NYTT ROM new scandinavian rooms


I had not come across this magazine until moving to Denmark. It is actually produced in Oslo and is well-established here coming out every two months and about to publish edition 46. The new scandinavian rooms part of the heading is not my translation but part of the full title of the magazine - although none of the articles are in English (and why should they be?) but some adverts from the larger companies are in English and presumably are a stock version to aim at an international audience.

Graphics are clean and fresh - which again is appropriate - and the magazine is well printed on good paper with high-quality images. Most pieces are short - some four or more to a page in some cases - but there are longer articles with three or four or more double-page spreads. These seem to be generally the longer assessments of particular homes. 

There are short book reviews and exhibition notices, reviews of cafes and restaurants that have distinct or well-designed interiors … so that means almost all of the new places are potential candidates. There are clear profiles of shops and shop owners which is building up into a really useful register and there are announcements or assessments for the launch of new products and new pieces of furniture.

Almost all the furniture and household items are current and new designs … generally the only classic designs are in the adverts of the more established manufacturers or if an unusual historic design is relaunched particularly if it comes back into production in new colour ways or with original colours or original features that have been changed over a long period of production.

What I really like is that apart from the photographs taken close up in a studio for the best lighting for the shot or to show details, most photographs are taken in real settings. OK rooms are tidied up or things moved around because the photographer needs to get things in view or get them out of the foreground where they can look terribly distorted by the viewpoint. It’s actually quite interesting to take photographs in your own home where it might look fantastic as you walk in and look good from certain view points but however much you step forward or back or twist slightly then at least one thing left in its usual place gets cut in half in the photo or appears to be weirdly triangular on tapered legs because the camera is looking down at an odd angle.

Here the real value for an English reader is that although many of these pieces of furniture and the household items are available in the UK it is actually the context in real homes that makes them look most Nordic. English readers might even be curious to see some of the rooms with clearly expensive furniture but hand-painted floors, and hand painting clearly done some years ago, electric wiring ducts surface mounted and light fittings with the flex stretched across to a hook and knotted up. Maybe this is one of the major differences between English and Scandinavian interiors. In the UK very expensive furniture usually reflects wealth and status and goes with equally expensive carpets and certainly with expensive bathrooms. Obviously it is always dangerous to generalise about national attitudes and priorities but in Scandinavia good quality furniture is appreciated not because it is expensive but because it is more generally what is expected and what is the priority. Then the room is simply the place for the furniture and in turn the house and the furniture are merely the setting for the family and the friends and what they do together there and that is what is important.

Nytt Rom also has a good web site and publishes a monthly on-line version of the printed magazine through issuu.

the magazine and exhibitor list

The magazine and exhibitor list for northmodern was great. Produced by Oak publishing; edited by Marie Graunbøl of the magazine - Oak The Nordic Journal - and published by CIFF, it contained all the information needed for locating stands and with colour-coded pages for lists of designers and manufacturers in each space and information on talks and so on - all pretty obvious stuff I know but clearly presented in a calm understated way - you don’t need graphics shouting at you when you have lots of other things to think about. It also had good profiles of several designers and pen-portraits of places to see or eat or drink in the city … and it was a sensible size.



Cereal magazine on Helsinki

Cereal is a relatively new magazine about travel and lifestyle that it is produced in Bristol. It is published as a quarterly and the 5th edition is now available although they also have an active blog site under the url readcereal.

The latest issue opens with four pieces on Helsinki with a brief assessment of the work of Alvar Aalto; a review of the most important modern buildings in Helsinki; a short piece about the Finnish language and an interview and report on coffee drinking in the city. Through all four articles there are interesting comments and observations about the history of Finland and its culture. 

One clear theme of the magazines, and their online site as well, is the alternative city guide although they do not actually use the word alternative. So far they have covered Bristol, Bath, London, Paris, Copenhagen, Charleston, Manhattan, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Austin, Hong Kong and Seoul … an impressive list for a young team who have only been together - as a group of writers, photographers and editors - for just over a year. They promise to add 10 cities this year and presumably Helsinki will be one of the next. 

You have to subscribe for access to the city guides on line (I have) but don’t expect a definitive guide for the tourist in a hurry wanting to claim they have been there and done that … these guides, like the graphic style, are much gentler and much more subtle than that. These recommendations are for travellers who want to find quiet places to sit and watch and learn and want to find places away from the usual tourist circuit. In the Copenhagen guide they recommend a hotel that has just one room and among the sites they recommend is a church well away from the centre that no tourist would stumble across by accident but is an absolutely stunning building and there is nothing in England to match it. You will have to subscribe to the guides to find out which hotel and which church.

The layout online is a simple grid and basic information including background information, address and contact details drop down from clear prompts. Listed are one or two hotels, several pleasant restaurants, major but less obvious architectural sites and, of course, design stores. The graphics work well on an iPad but you would need a map as well but that is hardly a problem and, again, certainly not a criticism. A flag at the bottom of the guide now states that pdf versions are in preparation but I hope that, as they are using a subscription format, they will at least try to keep links and addresses and so on up to date.

Screen grab from the Copenhagen guide

Both the printed version of the magazine, on heavy matt stock, and the online site have a distinct graphic character with soft muted colours and images shading from sepia to grey. Again, that reads as a veiled criticism but it is not … I get tired of the brash and flash graphics of too many glossy magazines and the house style here is more grown up and subtle. One article on line is a series of photographs in soft greys and pine greens showing Bristol in fog but even for photo essays on Malta and LA they seek out soft evening light or a heat haze.