Swedish Simplicity Reigns at Alma
A shared workspace in Stockholm embraces the social-club-as-office model—plus fine dining for all.
By Kate Donnelly
March 24, 2017
As shared environments overtake cubicle culture in major urban centers, each newcomer seems to up the ante on souped-up amenities and event programming. At Alma, a five-story members club and collaborative workspace in Stockholm, founder and creative director Fredrik Carlström distilled that recipe down to something more elemental. “My job is to make it hard,” says Carlström. “Hire the best architects. Really work on the experience. Push for great materials and design. Insist that we work with the best in each discipline.”
Like his native Nordic city, Carlström’s approach smacks of the less-is-more ideology—a notion he introduced stateside with the multibrand shop Austere, in L.A., and the popular East Hampton boutique hotel the Maidstone. That pared-down style washes over Alma, a renovated gymnasium and sewing factory in the affluent Östermalm neighborhood. Designed by Carlström and Swedish architects Tham & Videgård, it’s kitted out with custom furniture and objects such as solid-ash tables and benches, and a mobile light installation by Danish artist Kasper Friis Kjeldgaard. Beige, green, and gray finishes align with classic herringbone floors to set a subdued mood befitting its location on a northern Baltic Sea archipelago.
In the kitchen, chefs Martin Brag and Leo Frodell of the Ett Hem hotel, a favorite of international travel magazines, conceived a seasonal rotation of dishes that take a produce-driven approach to traditional Swedish cuisine. “It’s more of an ever-changing family meal based around a few vegetables and proteins prepared in different ways,” says Frodell. Served in the the airy atrium dining room and elegantly plated on ceramist Rikard Palmquist’s earthy brown- and pink-toned tableware, the spring menu features dry-aged lamb, west coast Swedish mackerel, and stinging nettles with ramps and rhubarb.
Meanwhile, Alma’s breadth of offerings includes the requisite work areas, a music and editing room, and an outdoor terrace. On the ground floor, a café is supplied with Järna Rosteri coffee beans, and Austere’s storefront carries its own furniture line along with covetable labels PP Mobler and Wästberg, whose wavy, razor-thin “w171 Alma” won Lighting of the Year at this year’s esteemed Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair. The blueprint is familiar, but the outcome has a touch of inimitable Swedish simplicity.