My words, thoughts and photos from a Swedish perspective

A walk in a functionalistic environment

As I told you before I took a walk on Stora Essingen yesterday. There are many well preserved houses representing the functionalistic ideas there and of course the camera kept me company.

The functionalistic style originally came from Germany and was introduced in Sweden on the Stockholm Exhibition in 1930 where the visitors were either charmed or horrified by this entirely new style. Besides, it was more than a design style – it was more like a concept that also affected the interior design.

Away with the heavy, dark and pompous furniture that people liked to fill their living rooms with “showing off wealth that wasn’t there”. The idea was that the living room should be as big as possible and full of light and air and the whole family should use it, instead of keeping it the traditional way – a room used only when having guests or for “special occasions”. This meant that the living rooms often got larger windows.

A separate bedroom for every member of the family was another idea the architects and interior designers had. Unfortunately, their ideas and the reality didn’t always match each other – simply because people used to live in smaller flats then than they do today. A flat of about 50 square metres was regarded as sufficient space for 3-4 persons which meant that sofa-beds and box-beds were still much in use and the huge living rooms took a lot of space which made the separate bedrooms rather small and more cell like than room like.

The kitchens were often regarded as another miscalculation. They were often small and without any direct light through a window. Why? The designers thought that we would all soon catch up with the future and this meant that the household work would be rationalised and that we would therefore no longer cook in our kitchens – all we would do was to heat up ready made meals.

Designers and scientists have believed that for ages but it hasn’t happened yet. Despite a couple of miscalculations, I think it was a style that worked well and saved lots of work for the housewives thanks to its plain and simple surfaces. It may sometimes give a strict impression, but I find a special kind of beauty in it. Functionalism isn’t just functional – there is elegance in it too.


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