Top design places in Stockholm and middle Sweden
Looking for places to explore Swedish design, arts and crafts on your holiday in Sweden? Svensk Form (the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design) has put together this list of the top design places to visit in Stockholm and central Sweden.
Svensk Form aims to demonstrate the benefits of good design to social development, to stimulate the development of design in Sweden, to increase respect for the value of design work and to expand and deepen attitudes towards issues of form and design.
A Pile of Art in Kumla
A Pile of Art ('Konst på Hög') is precisely what the name indicates. Beautifully located on a hill, this sculpture park showcases some 30 sculptures with widespread forest, meadow and lakes as backdrops.
Rising 100 meters above the plains outside the town of Kumla, the Kvarntorp Pile is hard to miss. The artificial hill consists of ash remains from the shale oil recovery that took place here from 1940 to 1966. It might sound like an unlikely place for art – nonetheless, this is one of Sweden’s most outstanding sculpture areas. Every year, new work is added to the 30 that are already spread out atop the pile.
ArkDes in Stockholm
The Modern Museum of Art in Stockholm is also the home of ArkDes, the Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.
With a heritage going back to the 1950s, Sweden’s national centre for architecture and design, ArkDes, is a museum, a study centre and an arena for debate that shares premises with The Modern Museum of Art ('Moderna Museet') on Skeppsholmen in Stockholm. Aside from the exhibitions do not miss the library, which boasts great glass windows and an appealing functionalist interior.
Staying true to Scandinavian values of inclusion and accessibility, the centre also arranges seminars and conferences around themes such as the future of the city and exhibitions often highlight young design talent. Spanish architect Rafael Moneo has designed the award-winning buildings at ArkDes, which include two exhibition halls, a library, an office and a café.
Nationalmuseum in Stockholm
The crown jewel of Sweden’s art museums is the iconic Nationalmuseum in the capital of Stockholm. Since its establishment in 1866, it has served as a premier setting for masterworks in painting, sculpture, art and design dating from the 1500s to the 1900s.
In addition to the extensive permanent collection, Nationalmuseum features regular and temporary exhibitions with top artists from around the globe.
The Nationalmuseum is a landmark building overlooking the water with stunning views of the Royal Palace. The museum reopened in 2018 after a five-year renovation project and enjoys the best of classic architecture combined with modern convenience.
The Museum of Spirits in Stockholm
A museum about Swedes’ relationship to spirits? Yes, but The Museum of Spirits is much more than that – there are interesting exhibitions throughout the year and a bar that lets you experience the taste of Sweden through their tasting trays.
The Museum of Spirits is situated on the island of Djurgården in central Stockholm. The exhibitions draw both from the history of drinking and art. The collections include some 850 commissioned works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Louise Bourgeois for Absolut Vodka, the vodka brand formerly owned by the Swedish state.
The Woodland Cemetery in Stockholm
A cemetery might not be on the top of the list when you travel, but The Woodland Cemetery ('Skogskyrkogården') in Stockholm offers a unique architectural experience and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Besides being a large green oasis, buildings such as the Chapel and Crematorium are designed by renowned Swedish architects Gunnar Asplund (1885-1940) and Sigurd Lewerentz (1885-1975) after winning an architect competition in 1915.
Details such as the pattern in the limestone floor inside the Holy Cross Chapel is for mourners to rest their eyes on during grief, and a glass wall can be lowered into the floor after the funeral so that the congregation can step right into the living landscape after the ceremony. Gunnar Asplund was famous for his typical Nordic Classicism and functionalist style – for other examples visit Stockholm Public Library, which is one of his most famous works.
The home of Carl and Karin Larsson in Dalarna
This colourful artist couple’s house is perhaps Sweden’s most famous home and has become an icon for Swedish interior design.
The artist couple Carl and Karin Larsson decorated their home Lilla Hyttnäs with a personal take on arts and crafts. Immortalized in the watercolour paintings by Carl Larsson, the artistic power couple’s light, colourful style has had an iconic impact on Swedish interior design and family life since the late 19th century. Lilla Hyttnäs, located in the idyllic village Sundborn, is open all year.
The Alma Löv Museum of Unexp. Art in Värmland
For a different art experience, visit the Alma Löv Museum, located outside the town of Sunne in Värmland.
The Alma Löv Museum is a contemporary art museum in the deep forests of Värmland, consisting of a central exhibition hall and some 20 surrounding pavilions. This low-budget project, with high artistic ambitions, was founded by artist Marc Broos in 1998 and is today run by his daughter Stella Broos. There is also a theatre and a café, open in the summertime.