Allure of Swedish Design

The Enduring Allure of Swedish Design

To find out more about one of our favorite decorative genres, Swedish antiques and more recent period pieces, we spoke to one of the most informed experts on the topic—Bill Gardner, owner of his namesake W. Gardner Ltd., based in Houston. Even before such furnishings and decorative items became appreciated for their aesthetics, Bill recognized their inherent appeal and applicability in homes. Many of the antiques that are featured in MILIEU and that are incorporated in personal interior design projects by both Pamela Pierce (Founder and Editor-in-Chief) and myself, come from Bill.

Bill emphasizes that the most enduring aspect of Swedish period pieces, whether they date from the eighteenth century or the 1950s and ’60s, is their inherent craftsmanship. “I like everything they do, from the most rustic to the most refined,” he says, “and I love the fact many Swedish examples incorporate a kind of quirkiness. The Swedes often express a sense of humor in their designs. Swedish furniture, from the Gustavian to mid-century Modern, is refined and exuberant. The pieces exhibit superb craftsmanship, whether they are fashioned by artisans in the country or in the workshops of Stockholm.”

When we asked about his favorite Swedish designers, he immediately cited two in particular. Ephraim Stahl (1768-1820) was one of the best practitioners of the Gustavian style, noted for its simple lines and painted surfaces, often in pale hues of gray, blue, and green. Bill also referenced Axel E. Hjorth (1888-1959), whose styles ranged from traditional to the decidedly Modern, and whose desks, tables, cabinets, dining sets, bureaus, chairs, benches, stools, and decorative accessories, such as mirrors, are among the most collectible and valuable items on the market.

“Swedish designs have never gone out of fashion because good design will always have its proper place in interiors,” Bill emphasizes. “Swedish designs, no matter what era they come from, blend with all other styles. They’re versatile.”

And one of the wonderful dynamics, too, is that good Swedish design is happening still.

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Images courtesy of Wright
Image of blue armoire courtesy of Uppsala Auktions Kammare