Wednesday, 1 October 2008

nord living








I love walking through the Tasmanian farm of my husband's grandparents. The family is Finnish and you can see the simple design philosophy of that country evident all over - from the sauna, which the whole family uses, including "mummo" (a funny concept for a prudish English person such as myself) to the simple wooden swing set out front. And while Scandinavian design has become quite fashionable, it's precept remains the same - good-quality design using natural materials with a simple aesthetic. That's why it's such a pleasure to live with. And these basic principles are celebrated in Nord Living - a gorgeous Melbourne shop that's the result of the creative know-how of Sofia Edstrom.



How and why did you start Nord Living? After working in both retail and wholesale for many years and having sustained a designer's love of form, craft and making in the somewhat hostile environment of commerce, I was looking for a way of combining designing, producing and retailing that went beyond the usual Saturday market and it all came together in an instant when I found a beautiful two-storey space in an old building in Hawthorn, while I was searching for a suitable showroom space for my wholesale agency called monochrome. Upstairs was perfect for monochrome and downstairs was a cosy space oozing character with high ceilings, lovely wooden floors and a beautiful big shop window - just right for an intimate retail experience - Nord Living was born.
What has been the response? I love to see peoples' faces light up when they come into the shop for the first time. People are so pleasantly surprised, supportive, appreciative, inspired and inspiring - in a nutshell- incredibly encouraging. The shop is an eclectic mixture of distinctly Scandinavian items, handmade items, jewellery, textiles, homewares, bags and a measure of vintage pieces so there is a lot to look at. It usually takes a couple of "laps" to take it all in and the visible pleasure and joy experienced by the customer in the process is incredibly rewarding. And from their response, and the chats that usually ensues, I sense a deep hunger for something original and authentic with the ability to engage visually, aesthetically and emotionally - so my aim is to offer that.
How is having your own business different to what you expected? I knew basically what to expect so I have not had too many surprises. Although I seriously underestimated the time book-keeping and administration takes for a small retail space…YUK! I suppose I never dreamt of Nord Living being as busy as it has turned out to be either - being situated at the quiet end of Glenferrie Rd. A wonderful surprise, for sure!
What has been a highlight? It is always a highlight and a very humbling experience for me when a customer, who has traveled far on the strength of a friend's recommendation, walks out happy after a visit to Nord Living. I have even had people stopping over in Melbourne to visit my shop. That is incredible! I love the "theatre" of a good shop window and get huge pleasure from doing them and a real kick from watching the response a new window is greeted with by passers by.

Where do you look to for inspiration? Very much to my Scandinavian roots growing up in the Swedish forest and from my involvement and experience in craft and design (both in Australia and Scandinavia) - rather than to external sources. I did (among other things) a pottery apprenticeship in Sweden and a BA in Ceramic and Glass once I got to Australia and I consider myself very lucky to have sprung from a creative family. To design and make from materials found around us was a natural part of life while I was growing up. That has given me the confidence and freedom to use tools, develop ideas, make, experiment and also to commission work. I find it very inspiring to work with other people who have a similar interest in craft, design and nature and lately in seeing the results of my work understood, appreciated and even encouraged by customers.
What's the best lesson you've learnt? YOU CAN DO IT! As a foot note to this I would add - trust your instincts and emotions, go with the flow, ignore specific trends and stick to ideas that have integrity and character.
What are you passionate about right now? Do more with less is a motto that seems to run like a red thread through my life... it works well on both a large and a small scale and can be applied to everything from global warming to my own designs. And like all parents I am passionate about our children's right to inherit a livable planet. Unfortunately, the forecast on that one is looking bleak at the moment, but I am the eternal optimist.
If you could meet one person, living or dead, who would it be? With history so full of inspirational and amazing people picking one is almost impossible - I'd love to be able to spend time and learn from all of them, but if I have to pick just one it might be Jane Austen - I just love her writing. Or maybe Queen Hatshepsut - for being such a formidable woman 3500 years ago... or actually - more than anyone - my grandfather who was my rock and inspiration throughout my life - while alive and since.

What are you reading? I am fascinated by Australian history (and history in general, actually) so right now I'm reading The Voyage Of Their Life by Diane Armstrong which is about the clapped out migrant ship, "The Derna", which docked in Australia in November 1948 with 500 displaced persons from 15 nations in Europe. An incredibly moving account of unimaginable hardships which makes one truly grateful for being born in times of peace and prosperity. As it happens my husband's family arrived from Italy the same month on another migrant ship so a lot of the experiences touched on in the book are ones shared by his family so in a way I'm collecting oral history to pass on to my own children.



Images courtesy of Nord Living

2 comments:

thetinylittlegirl said...

fantastic interview. nord living looks like an amazing store!

Natalie Walton said...

Tiny Little Girl - Yep, it's another place to visit in Melbourne, that's for sure!

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