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Author of text Jonna Dagliden Hunt in Bohuslän, Sweden
Author of text Jonna Dagliden Hunt in Bohuslän, Sweden
Photo credit: Christoffer Hunt

Why is Sweden a design travel destination?

While standing on the granite slabs on the island Rossö in Bohuslän on the west coast in Sweden and feeling the salty winds in my face and hair I could not wish to be anywhere else in the world.

In recent time Sweden has become a target for narrow-mindedness and fake news due to our long history as an open and democratic society. But if you look deeper than recent headlines, you will soon notice that our inclusive and tolerant culture has created possibilities for fostering a creative hub and made it a breeding ground for innovative ideas and solutions. Swedes are from a young age encouraged to take risks, defy norms, experiment and dare trying. 

Skype, co-founded by Swede Niklas Zennström in 2003, is one of many Swedish technological inventions. Photo: Lena Granefelt/

Big ideas and innovation

This has resulted in big ideas such as democratic companies including furniture for all by IKEA, free calls by Skype, music streams by Spotify and affordable fashion by H&M. But we are also seeing a range of start-ups all over the country that are launching new and innovate ideas: the app Karma reduces food waste by teaming up with restaurants and shops and Yepstr helps young people get work. The innovation is also popping up in the creative industries including fashion, design, food and architecture. 

Sustainability in focus

Sustainability is at the core of successful ideas being launched right now. Restaurant Garnisonen in Stockholm has just launched their urban gardening project Bee Urban Farmers and the new city hotel Hobo, also in Stockholm, is growing herbs and vegetables for their restaurant in a hydroponic system inside their lobby. Serving local produce is at the core of award-winning restaurants such as Upper House in Gothenburg which has beekeeping on its roof, PM & Vänner in Växjö, which sources local produce from Småland and Bloom in the park in Skåne, where the menu changes daily depending on what produce is available. 

This is also true for architecture – the housing project Oh Boy in Malmö by architect firm hauschild+siegel is an innovative project designed around bikes and humans, not cars. In Grenna visitors can unwind at the spectacular greenhouse Uppgrenna Naturhus, which is designed to create a breathing spot for city dwellers who need to unwind. 

Uppgrenna Naturhus by the lake
It might look like just another traditional red barn, but on a closer look it becomes evident that nothing is ordinary about this building. Photo: Christopher Hunt

The list is endless. In fashion designers are now trying to come up with the most innovative ideas using technology to solve sustainable issues. The project Smart Textiles at the University of Borås, is experimenting with garments that measure your health and movements as well as technology that makes it easier to recycle textile fibre. Filippa K Circle is an innovative initiative where the consumer can explore the full circle of their production, favouring a circular economy where we produce as little waste as possible. The brand even lets you rent garments instead of buying them. 

Modern craftsmanship

Swedish cutting edge innovation is also finding inspiration from age-old techniques and old values. We are seeing an appreciation of craftsmanship at places such as creative members club Alma in Stockholm. In order to celebrate its heritage, (it is located in the old premises of Beckmans College of Design) a dedicated curator is working with young designers and artists to decorate the space. At Gustavsberg’s old ceramic factory young designers and artists are setting up studios and breathing new life into a previously thriving industry. 

Skedvi Bröd makes Swedish crisp bread
Joel Lindblad makes traditional Swedish crisp bread in southern Dalarna. Photo: Christoffer Hunt

Thanks to hipster culture spreading in our cities, the love for genuine craft has been reborn and is flourishing all over the country. In Dalarna baker Joel Lindblad of Skedvi Bröd is making his sourdough crisp bread using traditional techniques, glassblower Ebba von Wachenfeldt makes beautiful glassware in a studio in Södermanland and Jobs Handtryck in Västanvik near Leksand is experiencing a new-found interest for hand made textile prints. This is also the case for interior design where for example Smålands Skinnmanufaktur is making beautiful furniture pieces by hand. 

So, what is the true reason for visiting Sweden? For me it is all about discovering our true values that can be linked back to that granite slab in Bohuslän. It is about being an open, democratic society. It is about creative ideas that are moving our country into the future. It’s all about you and me.     

The author Jonna Dagliden Hunt in Bohuslän, Sweden.
The author of text, Jonna Dagliden Hunt, in Bohuslän, Sweden. Photo: Christoffer Hunt

By Jonna Dagliden Hunt