Oct 29, 2013
09:16 AMStyle & Design
Swedish Style in New Book By Connecticut Experts, and at Lillian August
(page 1 of 2)
“People think of Scandinavian rooms as all cold and white and stark,” said Edie van Breems, who with her partner, Rhonda Eleish, has established herself as an expert on Swedish style. The partners in Eleish van Breems Ltd., based in Washington Depot, have just brought out Reflections on Swedish Interiors, their third book on Swedish décor.
“That’s where people go wrong,” Ms. Van Breems continued. “Actually there is a lot going on in Swedish décor—but it is very subtle.”
In their handsomely illustrated new book, with its sumptuous photographs by Neil Landino. the Scandinavian design mavens look at rooms created by 11 homeowners using Swedish style and influences as their compass. These influences define life in a culture that fully appreciates beauty and durability.
Their previous interior design books, Swedish Interiors (2006) and Swedish Country Interiors (2009) “grew from a need to share the knowledge we have gathered from our Swedish heritage, teachers, mentors and travels, as well as a need to define a standard for great Scandinavian interiors and design in the United States,” Eleish said in a statement. “Our mission is to, wherever possible, introduce a clean, elegant, and fresh approach to interiors, all with a Scandinavian essence.”
At the end of Reflections on Swedish Interiors is a final chapter that encapsulates The Elements of Swedish Style—offering such tips as swing a chandelier, find a balance, use rich leather, mix old and new, and embrace floral motifs.
“I know it may sound trite to say that Swedish design follows Virtuvius’ three conditions of firmness, commodity and delight,” wrote Keith Granet, a licensing agent and management consultant for the design industry,
in his introduction to the book, “but when you look at a Swedish home or furnishing or a or a simple dish towel, it all carries the same level of care and comfort that makes you yearn for a home filled with these beautiful objects.”
In the book, the authors discuss the fundamentals of Swedish design, touching upon functionality, light, preservation, art, eclecticism, color, sense of place and a deep reverence for nature. They also explore how Swedish interior design expresses a community of ideas that is no longer bound by simple nationalistic borders and is being embraced in today's homes.
Van Breems says there is “definitely a movement” toward Scandinavian design in America. “I feel there is a huge change from when we started 15 years ago,” she said. “Some very cutting-edge American designers are gravitating toward Scandinavian design. They are using the good touch points—for one it is paint and paint colors, for someone else it is eco-consciousness—the Swedes are light years ahead of us in sustainability.
“The young Swedish designers are so jazzed and excited about finding solutions to problems with environment and energy,” she said. “They say, ‘Here’s a problem, and we’re going to solve it.’ In America, we have a much larger problem because we’re so big, but they have a can-do attitude. Here, we tend to think of ourselves first, but there, there is a sense of one for all—the Swedes think of themselves as part of a people, with no one better than anyone else. If you stand out, that is kind of frowned upon. The whole concept is one of trying to make things better for everyone.”
She noted that when she and Eleish started their Swedish antiques business in Woodbury in 1998 there was very little awareness of Swedish culture. She laughed when she recounted how they were painting their shop with hand-mixed Swedish paints to get just the right look when a woman dropped in. “She came in and said she couldn’t wait to see what Slavic design looked like,” she recounted. “Now, it is so well embraced; the look is global. The Swedish esthetic has bred like wildfire.” (Edie van Breems, left, and Rhonda Eleish.)
So, what is the Swedish esthetic? “I think it is ease of living, a life style that is family oriented—being able to live with beautiful items where nothing is too precious,” she said.