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Photo of Stockholm Public Library. Photo from ArkDes Collection.

“Beauty should be in all people’s everyday life and that is the reason why Siragêr exists.”

The jewelry brand Siragêr takes inspiration from Swedish architecture and design. By making jewelry inspired by our past, we can start to explore our surroundings and its beauty. Below is a story about the beautiful Swedish architecture and design with a focus on Swedish Grace. Can the art period let us all experience the beauty in everyday life?

What is beautiful architecture and design?

Architecture is more than just the built environment, it is also a part of our culture. It stands as a representation of how we see ourselves, as well as how we see the world. Older architecture and design can teach us how society has evolved and our behavior during that time. It can also teach us about beauty and its different shapes and forms. Beautiful architecture is beauty that many people can experience and beautiful design is in the eye of the beholder. 

Swedish architecture and design


One of Sweden’s most beautiful art periods is called Swedish Grace which was a stylistic trend within Swedish design and handicrafts from the 1920s. The art period had its beginning in architecture where several lavish public buildings were built during the 1920s in Sweden. These 1920s buildings like City Hall, Stockholm Public Library and Stockholm Concert Hall needed to be furnished. It created a demand for new interior designs to match the building's style. What were the characteristics of Swedish Grace and how did the architects and designers of that time create beauty?

Swedish architects from the beginning of the 20th century

Stockholm City Hall & Ragnar Östberg

The beautiful City Hall was designed by the architect Ragnar Östberg (1866-1945). The characteristic of Östberg's architecture is the interest in movement through the building and the shifts of room characters (Bedoire 2015, 198-201). This can be seen in the design of City Hall where rooms lead to the Blue Hall (Ivanov 2017, 45) and where Östberg worked with the brick’s possibilities to capture the light (Bedoire 2015, 202). 

The inspiration for the Stockholm City Hall came from among other things from Ragnar Östberg's travels to Italy, especially when he designed the Golden Hall. He took inspiration from the floor of the Pantheon in Rome with its circles and squares. The mosaic on the walls was designed by the artist Einar Forseth and he also traveled to Italy to find inspiration. The furniture was partly designed by Carl Malmsten and Gunnar Asplund. The sculptures in the garden were made by Carl Eldh (Ivanov 2017, 45-48) . The City Hall in Stockholm took several years to build. It was inaugurated on midsummer eve 1923 and it says that it took over 20 years to build from first sketch to until the building was completed (Ivanov 2017, 44).

Östberg’s architectural style with the room’s open spaces and the playfulness with the geometric forms creates a beautiful balance between the symmetric and asymmetrical beauty. 


Photo of the Golden Hall.

Photo from ArkDes Collections.


Photo of City Hall. Photo from ArkDes Collections.

Stockholm City Library & Gunnar Asplund

When visiting Stockholm City Library by the architect Gunnar Asplund (1885-1940) the visitor will see symbols from the history of the world. When opening the doors to the library the visitor will push a handle with the motif of Adam and Eve, the denizens of the Garden of Eden.

The story continues with the entrance showing scenes from the Iliad.(Elmlund, Mårtelius 2015, 88) Stairs lead the visitor from the entrance to the upper floor where the visitor will be met by a room full of books. The floor has a pattern of circles and squares. 

Gunnar Asplund’s trips around the mediterranean and Tunis affected his design language. He experienced the large architectural space, the sky over the wide landscape, the light, proximity and distance. (Ivanov 2017, 61) Asplund became obsessed with the architectural space and how the inner roof should “disappear” and to build a room without any limits or without distance. (Elmlund, Mårtelius 2020, 73) This can be seen in the design of the Stockholm City Library but also in his other designs such as the Skandia cinema. The City Library was inaugurated in 1928. Stockholm City Library is a modern building but designed with classical principles. (Elmlund, Mårtelius 2015, 152).


Photo of Gunnar Asplund.

Photo from ArkDes Collections.


Photo of City Library in Stockholm.

Photo from ArkDes Collections. 

Stockholm Concert Hall & Ivar Tengbom

The Concert Hall in Stockholm was inaugurated in 1926. The building was designed by the architect Ivar Tengbom (1878-1968). (Ivanov 2017, 49) The building has its facade with pillars towards the market place and contains two halls. Ivar Tengbom took inspiration from an ancient Greek theater when designing the Concert Hall. (Elmlund, Mårtelius 2015, 80) The building's theme was “the room under the open sky” where the halls became like a roman place where the people in the city waited for the game to begin. The building became a monument of the interest in the arts and crafts but also over the modern society’s ambition of focusing more on culture and education (Ivanov 2017, 49-50)

Tengbom became in 1916 the professor at the Royal Institute of Art and was the architect who was hired for most of the manifestations in Stockholm (Bedoire 2015, 234). He kept antiquity as a model in pursuit of simplicity and objectivity (Ivanov 2017, 54).  During Ivar Tengbom’s career he wondered about how long it would take before the good craft tradition was destroyed. The “machine culture” had taken hold in time and all decor was scaled down. (Ivanov 2017, 53) Was the beauty in our society really threatened?


Photo of Ivar Tengbom.

Photo from ArkDes Collections.


Photo of Stockholm Concert Hall.

Photo from ArkDes Collections. 

Photo of City Library in Stockholm.

Photo from ArkDes Collections. 

Photo of Ragnar Östberg.

Photo from ArkDes Collections.

Some aesthetic tricks of Swedish Grace

Mix Scandinavian, Greek, Roman and Egyptian style features


The City Library in Stockholm has several different style features. On the facade of the building you can see that Gunnar Asplund has been inspired by Egypt by having a decor with Egyptian features. When entering the building you can see the history of the Iliad. 


Photo of City Library's facade. 


Photo of the entrance to the City Library. 


Columns can also be seen on many Swedish Grace buildings. For example at the Concert Hall in Stockholm. This might have been inspired from the columns of Pantheon in Rome.


Photos of columns at the Concert Hall.


Photo of columns at the Pantheon in Rome.

Geometric forms such as the circle and square

The floor in the City Library is designed with circles and squares. This can have been inspired by the floor of the Pantheon in Rome.


Photo of the floor of City Library in Stockholm. Photo from ArkDes Collections.


Photo of the floor of the Pantheon in Rome.

Symmetry without hierarchy 

This means that the objects are symmetrical but none of them are bigger than the other. For example at the Concert Hall in Stockholm where the columns are all of the same height. 


Symmetry without hierarchy also means that the periphery is just as important as the center of the building which contributes to that the whole building gets the focus. 


Photo of the Concert Hall in Stockholm. 

Elements that are used as independent ornaments.

The ornaments don’t need to be there. They don’t fulfill a function, they’re mostly for decoration. The photo shows an entrance to a building in Vasastan, Stockholm, where the ornaments don’t fulfill a function. They’re just beautiful decorations.


Photo of an entrance  in Vasastan, Stockholm.

From architecture to the art of interior

It was not only architects that believed the beauty in our society was threatened. Swedish Grace was a period between older craftsmanship and modern industrial production. The critics of mass production believed that industry should develop its products together with artists but realized that producers would only change if there were economic incentives. More “beautiful everyday goods'' and “beauty for all” were concepts that meant that beauty can improve individuals' lives in a longer perspective and elevate society at large. (Elmlund, Mårtelius 2020, 112)


The association “The Swedish Society of Crafts and Design”, today called Svensk Form, was founded to safeguard the quality of Swedish handicraft products. The threats came from the mass production and the poorly manufactured goods produced by untrained craftsmen. (Svensk Form 2021) The association mediated assignments to connect artists with the industry.


Photo from Anna Danielsson / Nationalmuseum

The first public assignment was “Hemutställningen” that was held at Liljevalchs in Stockholm, year 1917. A movement to bring artists into the industry coincided with a renewed interest in antiquity and classical forms. (Elmlund, Mårtelius 2020, 113). The classical motifs on buildings in Sweden can also be seen on interior pieces such as glass bowls, cast iron urns and furniture.

The Swedish design had its great international breakthrough at the world exhibition in Paris 1925. The engraved glass got the most attention. (Elmlund, Mårtelius 2020, 119)


Photo from Näfvekvarns bruk. Photographer: Unknown.

Photo from Hälsinglands auktionsverk

Paris 1925

“Beauty should be in all people’s everyday life”

On the 28th of April 1925 the French president Gaston Doumergue opened up “Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes” in front of 4000 invited people. The idea behind the exhibition was to highlight that beauty wasn’t only for luxury environments, beauty should be in all people’s everyday life. The objects should also have an artistic and modern character. (Ivanov 2017, 26-35) 


Photo of the Swedish pavilion. Photo from Svensk Form.

The Swedish pavilion was designed by Carl Bergsten.

He was inspired by Gustav III’s pavilion on Haga castle in Sweden. (Bedoire 2015, 233) 

In the Swedish pavilion there was furniture designed by Carl Malmsten, Simon Gate’s engraved glass, sculptures by Carl Milles and Erik Grate’s cast iron urn etc. (Ivanov 2017, 26-27) Sweden's contribution gave Sweden 35 grand prix, 46 gold medals, 31 honorary diplomas, 39 silver medals, thirteen bronze medals and thirteen honorary mentions. The exhibition gave Sweden a name on the map. (Ivanov 2017, 33)

French luxury

Even though the idea was to create beauty for all, the objects that were shown on the exhibition became popular for the wealthy. Maybe due to the craftsmanship behind the objects. For example gave Sweden a trophy to Paris in 1922 that took 600 hours to make. It was the largest engraved piece in Orrefors history and was 85 centimeters high. The trophy was during the world exhibition in Paris 1925 placed in the Swedish pavilion. (Ivanov 2017, 33) 

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Photo of  "Bacchanalia bowl" from Jörgen Ludwigsson, Kulturparken Småland

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Photo of  "Bacchanalia bowl" from Jörgen Ludwigsson, Kulturparken Småland

Other examples of hours of making is the crystal bowl engraved with the “Bacchanalia Frieze”, designed by Simon Gate and manufactured by Orrefors. It took 300 hours to engrave. The object was also shown at the world exhibition in Paris 1925. The bowl was only made in 13 copies and became a collectors item. (Elmlund, Mårtelius 2015, 121) The small number of copies contributed to the Swedish Grace object became a luxury item. In summary, the Swedish Grace objects that should stand for “beauty for all” became instead the french avant-garde’s collective items. Maybe due to that everything from Sweden was so graceful.

Today’s beauty for all and how we can achieve it 

It is all clear - the beauty in our surroundings is out there to explore but why don’t we? In today’s society we look more at our phones than on the building’s beautiful facade filled with flower decors. It is time we rediscover our surroundings and behavior. 

The architecture of Swedish Grace can teach us how we explore and experience the room with its time and space. All three architects mentioned above played with the open room. Did they know something before their time? Is it the open room with its beautiful sky that makes us see the details? The design language of Swedish Grace with its austere elegance, created by surface decoration on simple forms with smooth surfaces plays with the symmetrical asymmetric. Maybe we need some details in life to disturb our minds and to start to look up more. It is the details in life that makes us experience the beauty. 

Who are we when we start to look up? When exploring the room we are in we can be in the present and find a calm. We can start to analyze our behavior and maybe start to question things. For example, why are we in the place we are today? In today’s society it seems that we have forgotten what beauty is. 


The architects and designers of the twenties in Sweden knew something. They knew how to play with time and space. They knew what beauty was. What if the building's beauty continued on to the people walking inside so they felt beautiful? By wearing designs inspired by Swedish Grace we will feel the past time’s feelings and the luxury of everyday exploring architecture and design. Beauty should be in all people’s everyday life and that is the reason why Siragêr exists. 

"By wearing designs inspired by Swedish Grace we will feel the past time’s feelings and the luxury of everyday exploring architecture and design."


Bedoire, F. (2015). Den svenska arkitekturens historia. Stockholm: Norstedts.


Elmlund, P. & Mårtelius, J. (2015). Swedish Grace - The forgotten modern. Stockholm: Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation. 


Elmlund, P. & Mårtelius, J. (2020). Swedish Grace - En bortglömd modernism. Stockholm: Bokförlaget Stolpe & Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation. 


Ivanov, G. (2017). Swedish Grace. Stockholm: Orosdi-Back.


Svensk Form (2021). History. [2021-12-23]

ArkDes Collections Photos

ARKM-nr: 1962-101-1036b

ARKM-nr: 2006-104-015-01

ARKM-nr: 1962-102-180

ARKM-nr: 1994-112-2122

ARKM-nr: 1985-109-443

ARKM-nr: 1962-101-0843

ARKM-nr: 1984-102-1747-1

ARKM-nr: 1984-102-0075

ARKM-nr: 1985-218-01

ARKM-nr: 1985-109-151

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