Koncept Stockholm's concept of up-to-the-minute loft design embraces Italy and America, too
Aric Chen -- Interior Design, 6/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
When Koncept Stockholm was asked by a young entrepreneur and his wife to renovate their newly purchased apartment in Sweden's capital, the firm's members realized they'd basically have to start from scratch. "It was a studio and home for a painter, and it was in very bad condition, so we really didn't keep anything," says project architect Nils Nilsson, who—along with his wife, another couple, and a fifth partner—is a principal of the firm. Annexing an adjacent residence that his clients had also acquired, Nilsson set out to transform a 2,000-square-foot bohemian abode into an impressive 3,000-square-foot loft complex.
But first the space, the top floor of a late 19th-century six-story building, needed some rearranging. From the previous owners, Nilsson retained only a wall with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, behind which he created a formal entryway with a guest bedroom overhead. Above the other side of the main living area is a loft for a home office; a few steps up from this mezzanine level is the master bedroom. Here, the apartment's Habitrail-like character takes its truest form with a sleek untreated-steel stair and glass platform providing access to the view through an elevated porthole window. "The window's a nice size, so you can actually crawl through. The roof becomes like a terrace," explains Nilsson.
Downstairs, Koncept Stockholm enlarged the main bathroom and upgraded it with a sauna, concrete bathtub, and gas fireplace. In European fashion, the bathroom was left open. "It's possible to spot you there from several angles," warns Nilsson lightheartedly. "But there's also a guest toilet with a door in case there are Americans." Across from this ample bath stands the apartment's centerpiece, a double fireplace that, with its two perpendicular hearths and boldly projecting hoods, serves both the living area and the media lounge.
With structural concerns largely in order, the time came to tackle stylistic issues. Taking advantage of the generous, 18-foot ceiling height, Nilsson says he worked to fulfill his clients' wish to combine the sensibilities of a Swedish painting studio with Italian modernism and "American boldness." A black-walnut Boffi kitchen, Antonio Citterio and Antonello Mosca sofas in the living area and media lounge, respectively, and a Norman Foster dining table satisfied the Italian-modern request. And the American boldness? Explains Nilsson, "It's in some of the details and fixtures—we got a huge refrigerator."
Meanwhile, he devised clever ways to express the Scandinavian proclivities for natural light and wood finishes. The apartment already boasted over 50 windows and skylights, an amenity that he refined by tapering the skylight reveals to make the apertures bigger than the areas of glazing. This not only gives the skylights a larger appearance but also embellishes the geometry of the sloped ceiling and diffuses sunlight better. Meanwhile, an existing terrace was glazed to create a south-facing orangery (or winter garden) with a water-draining teak floor.
Floors in general received an equally rigorous treatment. Broad planks of Swedish pine, tinted a light gray, were installed over most of the main level. The loft office's rose-painted pine floor reflects a subtle glow. In the master bedroom, teak floorboards were softened with lemon juice. "Before we decided on lemon, we tried 20 or 30 things, like exposing the wood to the elements, to achieve the right bleached effect," says Nilsson.
Further expressing the Scandinavian penchant for nature—but with an almost Amazonian spin—artist Roger Andersson installed a verdant mural of magnified greenery in the media lounge. "We thought it would be nice to make something really big but not a landscape," says Nilsson. "What you see is grass blades 40 centimeters wide, as if you're an ant on someone's Sunday outing."