At first glance, a pair of vacant military barracks might not seem like a place where well-heeled travelers would be eager to pass the night. But the two 17th-century Stockholm buildings that Claesson Koivisto Rune was hired to help convert into a boutique hotel are historically protected designs by the Swedish architect Nicodemus Tessin the Younger, who is most famous for the city’s Royal Palace. They are also located on Skeppsholmen, a small island near the heart of the city. Nobis, a hospi-tality group that worked with CKR in 2005 to remodel Operakällaren, a popular Mich-elin one-star restaurant in another heritage building, felt that the hometown team was the obvious choice to bring a modern spin to the interiors of its latest site-sensitive endeavor.
“We wanted a Swedishness, if you will, of today,” says Joachim Olausson, the managing director of Hotel Skeppsholmen, which opened in October. “We are filling this old, historic venue with strong Swedish traditions along with the best of local contemporary art, fashion, music, scents, food, and design.” Accordingly, the hotel staff is outfitted by the fashion house Acne, the bathrooms are stocked with toiletries in a custom fragrance from Byredo Parfums, and the restaurant offers a traditional Swedish fika of coffee, lemonade, and baked goods.
But Ola Rune demurs when it’s suggested that this was the design theme. “Our goal was to do the best possible hotel,” he says. “If peo-ple want to call it Swedish, so be it.” Don’t, for example, make too much of the sparse furnishings and blond-wood floors. The designers simply felt that the rooms, as delivered by Peter Erséus & Gunhild Skoog Jägbeck, were complete. “The room already had everything,” Rune says. “A very Swedish thing is to be modest in the details but to do the details.”
It may, in other words, be a sensibility, but it’s not a style. Even a cursory review of the interiors turns up iconic Swedish pieces, including CKR’s own w081 task lamp for the upstart lighting company Wästberg and its Misura armchair for Tacchini Italia, the upholstery sporting an amalgam of 18 different city maps, including one of Stockholm. CKR mixed these with non-native products such as Flos’s Parentesi floor lamp, by Achille Castiglioni, and, in the dining room, a 26-foot-long communal table made from a single piece of oak. It was sourced from Botswana at a third of what it would have cost to make in Sweden. Ironically, the table is an unintentional allusion to the building’s historic dining hall, where soldiers once ate together.
“You can call it Swedish,” Rune says of the end result. “But I don’t think you have to. It’s simply good enough as it is.”