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Stockholm: Design in the City of the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By Mary Alice Kellogg

This crisp city built on 14 islands, each with its own personality, is steeped in tradition with a contemporary sensibility anchored in design. Stockholm these days is all agog preparing for the royal wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Daniel Westling on June 19th but, while the city promises it will be flourishing "with love and flowers" for the occasion, you don't have to be a royal watcher to enjoy.


For one thing, if you're a fan of Stieg Larsson's "Millenium" trilogy — and who isn't, with his books best-sellers around the world and the movie of the first, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage),
set to launch in the U.S. this year — Stockholm's where it's at (see the movie trailer below). Literally. A walking tour of the city's chic Sodermalm district, where much of the action and filming took place, not only gives a glimpse into the books, but a feel of what the Stockholm Good Life is all about: historic buildings, artist ateliers, chic coffee bars, smart boutiques and great views.


Clarion Hotel Sign.

Known for its sleek hosteleries, Stockholm's latest — the Clarion Hotel Sign — pays homage to Scandanavian design with rooms inspired by the greats: Arne Jacobsen, Bruno Mathsson and Alvar Aalto. Its popular Aquavit restaurant, chef Marcus Samuelsson's first foray into his hometown after triumphs in New York City, offers a carefully-edited contemporary menu with museum-quality presentations.

Not far from that nabe is the city's historic Old Town, replete with the requisite cobbled streets, the singular Nobel Prize Museum (upstairs is where the judges for the Literature prize meet), and ending with the country's Royal Palace, one of the largest in Europe. Worth a stroll.


A couch in Svenst Tenn.

But this is Stockholm, after all, the city where design rules and both Ikea and uber-chic ACNE fashion was born. Pilgrimages to the Moderna Museet and Nationalmuseum will get you up to date on art and design. But the Mother Ship of design (unlimited funds recommended) is Svenskt Tenn. The store where Swedish Modern was launched 85 years ago is in itself worth a ticket to Stockholm. Browse for a couple of hours and realize that resisting redecorating your entire home is futile.

In cultural news, the new Fotografiska Museum will open this May to great fanfare. Housed in an historic former Customs building on the water, its three cavernous floors are devoted to exhibitions of contemporary photography, an Academy offering courses from beginner to expert, a commercial gallery and museum shop, and, on the top floor, a restaurant and bar with spectacular views of the city. This is Sweden's first photography museum and is generating major buzz.

My Stockholm caveat is to take the subway or bus, as taxis here are mercenary. Check with your concierge to discover the companies that won't take tourists for a ride; alas, I didn't and a 10-minute, two-mile voyage from the Vasa Museum to the Stockholm Hilton (the city's best Sunday brunch spot, by the way) cost a princely $60 US. The driver, however, was charming and the Mercedes immaculate.

For more info, go to Visit Sweden.

MARY ALICE KELLOGG, a New York-based writer and editor, is a
recipient of the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Award for Consumer Reporting. A
contributor to many national publications, including Travel + Leisure, Conde
Nast Traveler, Bon Appetit and GQ, she has reported from 120 countries and five
of the seven seas to date… and counting.

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