And now for something from the Capital, we talk to the very charming (and very talented) Emma Hart. After living and working in Europe, she discovered Denmark and quite literally fell in love with all things Danish. We ask a few questions about how her new pop-up store Skandi, which is filled with Scandinavian clothing and furniture, settled into Island Bay in Wellington.
So what was it that started your obvious love affair with Scandinavian vintage?
I think I was born a treasure hunter. I see beauty in the process of discovering what isn’t yet realized.. finding where it fits in a modern setting and sometimes giving the chair, lamp or table a slight revamp. But for sure the things I find most disarming are in their original state… and they have had a life. We all have stories and furniture is no different.
Simple balanced beauty gets me every time and the Danes and Swedes get it a right. They don’t do bad lighting or bad furniture. Every piece needs to earn its keep in a room. I admire this hugely. I have dragged back a nine foot Chemists signs from France whilst on a work trip and biked through Italy with large religious icon strapped to my back on a mountain biking holiday.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My look changes with my mood, the country I am living in and the season. I treat my house like I would my wardrobe. Curtains change as do rugs and art, everything in the house has to earn it’s keep and I move things around a lot.
Having lived between London and Copenhagen for many of the 12 years I have been away from NZ means my style is totally off the scale. It is utterly eclectic, graphic, cosy but always calming. Right now it oscillates somewhere between a Danish winter cabin with masses of Skandi’s reindeer skins draped over sleek couches and a Georgian bordello with 300 year old oak tables and sideboards with way too many brass candelabra blazing away. All this is against the backdrop of the raging and moody South Coast of Wellington where I live.
How exactly did you end up opening a shop in Island Bay after living in Europe?
Island Bay has a very strong local community. A lot of people have moved back here from the UK, Europe or the US with Weta and have brought with them their Northern hemisphere understanding of style and design… they know what is cool, they read the magazines and have an appreciation for the less is more concept that the Danes and Swedes live by. They are also sympathetic towards sustainability and how Skandi’s furniture is quality made design inspired pieces that have lasted 50-60 years for a reason. The local grapevine here is very strong and 80% of our customers have been told about Skandi by a friend and are willing to travel the 12 mins out of the city to hunt for treasure themselves!
How much longer is the store open?
We have four weeks to run. We brought in three containers and are on the last container now.. the shop is full and we have just introduced fashion as well as that’s just another thing the Scandinavians do so well.
So what now what for Skandi?
At Skandi I have had people come into the shop and just thank me for opening.. and having he courage to bring something so different to the retail scene. An elderly man was near tears looking at the window of the shop as he was a Dane and had moved to the area 40 years ago after meeting a local Italian fisherman’s daughter and he had never returned home to Denmark. He said he was just so happy to be seeing his heritage again. Many customers have anxiously asked us this question as to what now… I am currently hunting affordable space in your neck of the woods (Auckland) to bring affordable, authentic and super slick Scandinavian furniture, lighting and fashion to a bigger marketplace. Watch this space. (YES!)
What is your favourite part of this particular adventure?
There has been a lot of learning on this journey but it is still the cool-hunting which causes my brain to fizz like a sherbet rush. Traipsing out into Jutland, Denmark, climbing over stacks of chairs, tables, couches piled three high in dark cold barns, warehouses and markets to see if the leg sticking out is an original Oxford chair or not.
Also coming to understand a country’s design aesthetic allows you to get into the mindset of it’s people and how they choose to live with design, form and function from the minute they wake.
What are YOUR favourite pieces in store?
It’s hard to hone in on my favourite pieces due to the fact that they are design inspired and all work so wonderfully well together, like an orchestra.. all different but they come together to create a harmonious 200sqm space!
Beauty is apparent in most of the pieces in Skandi but often it’s the story behind how I discovered it or hunted the piece out and the mission to get it to my warehouse in Copenhagen that causes the romantic attachment.
So I have an unhealthy attachment to the Czech room dividers, The Fantastik Chair, the little deer antlers which I use for coffee cup holders, the Icelandic Lamb skins and Swedish reindeer skins. I simply love the Copenhagen street lamps from the 70’s which up until 6 months ago were actually hanging outside my flat in Copenhagen. These are super hot in Denmark right now as they are industrial but with a real sense of history as they are currently being replaced by nasty energy-efficient lights. Lastly an incredible set of moulded Kai Kristiansen rosewood dining chairs which we have to wipe the customer dribble off every day.
What pieces have you found but haven’t been able to part with?
A Danish oversized Rococo from a manor house outside of Copenhagen, a Victorian freestanding jet black and silver fireplace/oven from Sweden which is a real centre piece.. oh and I will not be upset if the Fantastik chair has to come home with me at some point!
Opening dates and times are Wed-Fr 10-5 and Sat-Sun 10-4
Skandi 112 The Parade, Island Bay, Wellington skandi-skandi.com