When the Radisson Strand Hotel opened in Stockholm, not long before the 1912 Summer Olympics, it was an undeniably glamorous hotspot, frequented as it was by film stars Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo and visitors from all over the world.
In fact, through the Roaring ’20s, the hotel’s revenue stemmed first from alcohol, followed by food, then cigars and cigarettes—before factoring in room rentals at all. It helped that its harborside location was just a stone’s throw from the Swedish capital’s Old Town.
Yet various additions made over the years stripped the hotel of much of its original charm. Recreating that feeling of glamour and Scandinavian hospitality with a modern twist was the aim of a recent renovation by Swedish architecture firm Wingårdhs, whose revamped Radisson Strand opened its doors to the public in August, and whose profile has been on the rise since completing a few projects across Stockholm.
While the firm’s name may be less well-known abroad, their work is ubiquitous at home and includes everything from private residences to shopping malls. Among these projects is the studiously soignée restaurant and bar Tak (but more on that later).
The commission to renovate the 170-room Radisson Strand, one of the city’s oldest, offered an opportunity to mix Scandinavian design elements with a more “southern European” flair, as lead architect Leila Atlassi described it.
The lush velvet fabrics and geometric designs present in the some of the flooring, paired with chic, minimalist furniture—including some Nordic classics by Fritz Hansen and Flos—aimed to make both international and Swedish guests feel at home.
Atlassi and her team were looking to “add layers” to the space that would make them more “lush,” she explains. So, around the hotel, the team used warm, natural materials like oak and walnut in both dark and light hues and mixed materials like wood, velvet, glass, and marble.
The architects also placed an emphasis on sprucing up the hotel’s brasserie and bar, “The Strand,” and adjacent, smaller bar, for which they added a separate entrance. “With the bar and restaurant, we wanted to create [spaces that were] inviting enough and happening enough to be a nighttime place, but not too much of a nightclub during breakfast,” explained Atlassi.
One of the features that fits into this philosophy is the restaurant’s atrium, which is lit by 360 LED lights suspended at different heights. By night, the lights evoke a starry night, illuminating the midnight blue sofas below.
In the restaurant, and in common areas and rooms, the designers specified Carrara and black Nero Marquina marble to create sideboards, counters, and custom furnishings that are very much in line with current interior design trends.
This interest in integrating Scandinavian design elements is also apparent in other of the firm’s projects, like Tak, a restaurant in central Stockholm by Swedish chef Frida Ronge that prepares local cuisine using Japanese techniques.
“We wanted to apply the same idea to the interior, using materials that were true to Scandinavian heritage and using some Japanese applications of [them],” said Atlassi.
Located on the 13th and 14th floors of an otherwise drab office building, the team transformed the space into a stunning restaurant and bar, highlighting its strongest element: spectacular city views. To frame those views, the team installed geometric partitions in the bar—some in gold and some in black—that call to mind traditional Japanese shoji screens, which are made of wood frames and inset with undyed paper.
The result is an elegant, contemporary space that seamlessly mixes Nordic-style furniture, like Jasper Morrison’s lightwood chair and custom-designed tables, screens, and banquettes.
Perhaps the restaurant’s most charming element is its origami-inspired pleated booth collars, each of which offers privacy to diners sitting at the heart of the restaurant.
Wingårdhs’s work at both Tak and the Radisson Strand Hotel showcase the studio’s ability to successfully mix classic Scandinavian elements with a wide variety of styles and design traditions to create unique interiors. When the firm makes its move away from its home turf, it won’t be a surprise if it takes the international design scene by storm.
Disclaimer: The writer was invited by Radisson for a one-night stay at the Strand Stockholm hotel. As per our ethics guidelines, coverage was not guaranteed, and all opinions expressed here are the writer’s own.