The environmentally conscious accessories brand has become synonymous with forward-thinking design, and the newly revamped outpost in Soho, London, is no exception
Photography courtesy of Sandqvist featuring Emmely Elgersma
Words by Jessica-Christin Hametner
In the heart of London’s hip-and-happening neighbourhood of Soho, just a stone’s throw away from Oxford Circus on 79 Berwick Street, lies a minimalist retail shrine dedicated to one brand’s love of the great Swedish outdoors.
Occupying a compact 85sq m space since 2016, it is here that Stockholm-based luggage and accessories brand Sandqvist, revered for its timeless classics and unisex bags, brings together understated pieces, thoughtful Scandinavian design, as well as a hidden knack for art.
Curated by co-founders Daniel Sandqvist and Sebastian Westin, the duo has relaunched their iconic London flagship store this spring, and with it, created a perfectly formed design destination in collaboration with sculptor, ceramist and football coach Emmely Elgersma.
Photography courtesy of Sandqvist
Bringing a unique appreciation for contemporary papier-mâché sculpture through her experience and formal training as a ceramicist, Elgersma – who likens her studio to a surreal kitchen, concocting quirky sculptures and objects that look good enough to eat – has worked with the likes of IKEA and Adidas since graduating from Chelsea College of Arts in 2017.
Recognised for her deep-rooted commitment to sustainability and desire to build a greener future, Sandqvist shares Elgersma’s eco-conscious approach and ethos of reducing and repurposing waste, a meeting of minds that laid the groundwork for the pair’s collaboration in London.
When Sandqvist first approached Elgersma, the project brief was short and simple – 99% of the material she would use to make her bespoke pieces needed to be old material, preferably from the former, demolished store. Elgersma got to work and for the next few years, sourced materials on the streets of London and in local recycling bins.
Photography courtesy of Sandqvist
The resulting objects, which are all custom-made for the Sandqvist Soho store, are a perfect blend of sustainability and inventiveness. Defined by flowing curves, a strong colour palette and organic materials that find new life as one-of-a-kind decor pieces, Elgersma’s designs are joyous and bold.
Her colourful designs, such as a striking blue lamp and Elgersma’s first ever chair which takes its design cues from the mountains and forests of Scandinavia, stand out against the interior’s all-white backdrop and ash furniture like the modular display units realised by Swedish architecture practice Wingårdhs Arkitektkontor.
While the Nordic landscape is the grounding philosophy behind the revamped space, emphasis was also placed on creating a reconfigurable interior that supports choice, flexibility and a platform for local makers, all forming a part of Sandqvist’s new store strategy that has been rolled out across other territories already such as Berlin.
Photography courtesy of Sandqvist featuring Emmely Elgersma’s first ever chair
‘The more digital our world becomes and the more technical products we produce, our stores become even more important,’ says Sandqvist cofounder Sebastian Westin. ‘We want our customers to make conscious choices and our products to stay relevant for as long as possible.’
The shop’s fuss-free interior features forms, materials and colours that are intentionally simplistic, with a design that’s rooted in Scandinavian minimalism, staying true to the Swedish bag-makers design DNA. Yet the store is just as firmly rooted in its place by paying homage to London-based artists like Elgersma, providing a platform to showcase the talent of local creatives.
A vision of minimalistic, uncomplicated style, what makes the space so intriguing is the juxtaposition found throughout. From exposed brick walls to Elgersma’s handmade objects to the label’s covetable collection, Sandqvist’s Soho flagship beautifully balances timeless appeal with unexpected contrasts and a distinct hint of adventure.