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Stockholm has a well-deserved reputation for a clean, modern aesthetic that runs through clothing, interior design, art and pretty much anything else you can think of. That said, it doesn’t mean everything is all neutral tones and pine furniture. There is plenty of whimsy and even more experimentation.
Forget men on wigs posing on top of a horse — Swedes love modern and contemporary art in all its forms and there are few better places to find inspiration than in Stockholm’s many galleries and museums. The permanent collection at Modern Museum (Moderna Museet) is filled with works from contemporary giants such as Rauschenberg and Warhol, as well as lesser known but equally powerful names. Known as one of the best modern museums in Europe, Moderna also hosts regular visiting exhibitions, as well as performance pieces from people like Marina Abramović. Once you’ve had your fill of art, head to the absolutely amazing gift shop, which is bursting with not just the obligatory art books but plenty of other items that are perfect to add to your bag of tricks, including, well, bags and other accessories.
Stockholm is filled with amazing art galleries and while the ones in Gamla Stan tend to lean towards sea- and cityscapes, if you dig a bit deeper you’ll find a slew of galleries that offer not just cutting-edge exhibitions but also a community devoted to aesthetic development. Färgfabriken and Magasin III Museum & Foundation for Contemporary Art are both forward-thinking creative spaces devoted to promoting not just contemporary art (both domestic and international) but also to pushing the thought processes behind creativity to its limits.
While Södermalm is a hipster spot, Hornstull, on the far western edge, is only just now coming into its own. This means, of course, that it still has a bit of an edge and while the obligatory cool cafés and shops are making their way here, there are still plenty of pokey old stores and markets where you will find the unexpected. One of the best places is Hornstull Marknad, the classic weekend flea market where you’ll find art, design and antiques, along with funky food trucks and one of Stockholm’s best fashion parades.
There is also plenty of old-school graffiti, which infiltrates the relatively new Hornhuset. This area houses a wide array of shops and restaurants, such as the fantastic Peruvian eatery Barranco — which is not just a feast for the tastebuds for also for the eyes.
For great clothing finds, look no further than Beyond Retro. There are several outlets throughout the city but the one at Hornstull is known to have a bit more of an edge, particularly when it comes to accessories. For interior design Dusty Deco is a massive space offering vintage items from around the world — and that can mean anything from a gorgeous leather chair to a giant ceramic rhino. Hats and bags from a variety of eras are also found here, for reasons no one can quite explain.
Tourists often overlook this neighbourhood and they do so at their peril. The area around Odenplan is a hotbed of great high-street brands mixed in with one-off boutiques. Icee Trend is a tiny shop that carries a mix of the expected and the much more unexpected. A Marchesan might carry vintage but you won’t find much tat here: it is dedicated to quality, particularly when it comes to menswear. Old Touch sells clothing and accessories from the 1800s to the 1970s, so you can find everything from a waist-narrowing corset to that perfect pair of elephant bell bottoms. They’re also big on accessories and you can rent the clothes as well.
Acne Archive carries out-of-stock items from this classic Swedish brand, while Plagg is known for stocking the best edit from top Swedish brands, such as Filippa K.
Vasastan is also where Stockholmers head when they’re looking for antiques. Domino Antik trades in mostly Art Deco and while the focus is on interior design there are also accessories to be found. And for simple inspiration visit Tennstopet, the old-school Swedish pub and restaurant that features Peter Dahl murals, traditional waiters, and sumptuous yet relaxed surroundings. And of course, there is the City Library, the architectural delight made up of clean, curved lines that will inspire you in more ways than you can imagine.
There are a number of Designtorget outlets around the city and each one carries its own stock. What makes this place special is that it highlights up-and-coming designers, which could mean anything from jewellery to clothing to bags to unusual little items that don’t have an obvious immediate use but that you know you just have to have. Even more interestingly, the stock, which is chosen by a jury, changes every week or month, so it’s worth poking your head in here regularly.
Nordiska Komanpiet — or NK, as it’s known locally — is Sweden’s premier department store and for good reason. While it carries all the top domestic and international brands, it is also a bit cutting edge, taking a chance on lesser known designers who are only just making their mark. Just walking through the seven floors will inspire you and it’s not just the clothing. The store itself is architecturally gorgeous and the window designers are renowned for their inventiveness and creativity. Fashion shows are also regularly held here, which is another great opportunity to suss out the best of what’s happening right now.
Use this map for the Stylist’s Essential Guide to Stockholm: