isak & malin.

34. sailor. likes blue.
29. pisces. prefers yellow.

Do you have any house rules?

Isak It sounds like something I should come up with.
Malin Like making the bed or not having crumbs in the bed.
Isak I’m probably more fascist! But a rule we have is to do things you feel good about.

There’s so much natural light in this place.

Isak I think it’s important where you wake up in the morning and what you are surrounded by. Not just the light, but the sounds as well, like outdoor noise. Our previous apartment was by a schoolyard, but here there are mostly birds chirping.
Malin I remember our first night in the apartment, we slept to the sounds of a bird symphony.

Have you become birdwatchers by living here?

Malin No, not quite. Isak is better at hearing the differences between birds, but I can spot a blackbird.

didn’t you live on a boat at some point?

Isak Yeah, I like the sea very much and I lived on a boat on Skeppsholmen. I went to a boat building school and wanted to become a craftsman. I started taking photos after that, when I realized I was not that gifted, and that photography could be a profession. The boat was orange, the same colour as the towel on the wall.

i made our table
myself, out of necessity.

So, it was sort of fate that you would stay on the boat. What was the feeling and sound of waking up on a boat?

Isak Living on Skeppsholmen was probably the best. It was very cozy to stay there together. Skeppsholmen is a special place. It’s a small commmunity of around 20 people living on boats and maybe ten people living in their studios at the Royal Institute of Art. It felt a bit like being on a permanent holiday.
      It was a moment of sorrow when the owner said he was going to sell it and we understood that we had to live on land. There are also benefits to living on land, but the practical benefits do not really surpass the romance of living on the sea. When you’re on a boat you have to clean every day, you have to be ready to leave. It’s a feeling of freedom. You disconnect from society.

So you’ve become nomadic in a way. In that case, what is home to you?

Malin Security. A place to relax. I probably have quite the need to rest, so I appreciate that it’s a peaceful zone away from the rest of the world.
Isak Now that I have my own office, but I also think that the home is a place where you should be able to create something. It’s important that there is a table where you can write, not that I write that much, but there should be. I made our table myself, out of necessity. But it is inspired by Klara Granstam who makes similar furniture and uses orange straps and buckles. That was what I had on hand when we were hosting a dinner party and I had to solve a table for our guests, who were ten minutes away.

malin, What do you focus on most when working with architecture?

Malin Houses, buildings, apartments and some interior.

What part of the practice are you drawn to?

Malin I enjoy doing projects in existing environments, such as attics or extensions. You have to relate to the conditions that exist and take into account the heritage of the building.

What is more important in your opinion, to honour the heritage or to create a new context?

Malin A little bit of both but mostly heritage. It can be nice to have limitations. With new buildings it can be difficult in that there are so many different ways to create something contemporary, which stands the test of time.

Is that one of the reasons why modern buildings have become somewhat soulless?

Malin I think so, but an architect is just one consultant amongst many, so there’s no one who properly holds the vision or project together. It’s usually the builder and the client who has the final say—that’s why you sometimes find this lack of cohesion.

When you have a client there is compromise, what is it like at home, do you get to decide?

Malin No, I can’t decide on my own. We both have strong and sometimes differing opinions on what is ugly.

we both have strong opinions
on what is ugly.

What would you want to do with the apartment if you had an unlimited budget?

Isak We already have an ongoing project, we thought of redoing a room in the kitchen that has been a maid’s room. We considered either getting a maid or creating a larger kitchen. [Laughs]

The kitchen cupboards have a very subtle hint of purple to them, was that here from before or something you added?

Isak I’ve only bought apartments twice. And have always bought from older women and in this apartment lived an old Finnish woman who was very fond of the colour of the cupboards. It is the mildest purple and I was so happy when I discovered it.

How are you with colour, you both work a lot with it. Do you have a favourite?

Isak We’re both interested in colour—I really like blue. Malin likes yellow, which I had a hard time with when we met, but I’ve begun to understand the charm.

our main source of culture is
law & order: special victims unit.

What’s a hard no as far as interiors go?

Malin When it’s impersonal or too polished, it’s a little sad.

What else rubs you the wrong way?

Isak I have difficulty with design objects. I love design, but I don’t like when it communicates too much, I like when it’s more subtle.

Are there any designers you like?

Isak I like things that don’t have a designer, things that have been made by the army, that have unknown designers.
Malin It’s probably a bit cliché but I enjoy Japanese handicraft tradition very much.

What are you watching at the moment?

Isak Our main source of culture is Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Malin We have a penchant for 90s and 00s detective stories on film. This is a TV series, but still a bit similar.
Isak There are 24 seasons too! It started with us having a TV and we could watch cable TV. It was like entering a world I hadn’t seen since my teens.
Malin We used to watch Law & Order after we’d been out. I like the environments a lot. The fact that it is on film makes it more nostalgic and feels more everyday.
Isak I think it’s a loving and empathetic series. Good script. We do not watch an episode without each other.

Do you feel that you influence each other creatively?

Isak I feel that I am influenced by Malin a lot. Malin is so good at seeing when something is good. And she is very good at choosing. When I work as a photographer, the selection is important, and perhaps what I think is most difficult. Malin is very good at it. And it is an ability that one uses in life.
Malin I’m also influenced by Isak. He is very free in his creativity, I can feel quite locked in my discipline, so that is inspiring to me. What you do also becomes something. You really are a do-er! And is very proactive.

Speaking about proactiveness, you made a book, with your friend Baba Stiltz, how did that come about?

Isak We worked together on an Our Legacy thing and became friends. And then he was recording a record in Helsinki and asked if I would come and say hello. He has a relationship with the city and he introduced me to its best bars, but more importantly its best Russian food.

where do you like to hang out in stockholm?

Isak After ten years and countless attempts, I have succeeded in becoming a regular at Kaffe on St Paulsgatan—now they greet me when I’m there. I hope that in three to four years they may also know my name. I like that there are exactly the same people there every day, both visitors and staff. It’s been a place of security for me since I moved to Stockholm.
      We had dinner at Giffi the other day—we actually had our first date there. It’s a diner that’s open early in the morning. There are two in Stockholm: Café Giffi and Café 91, both have yellow signs that say: breakfast, sandwich, coffee, porridge, filet, cream.

How come it was the place for the first date?

Isak It was after a party, after an after party, and after another party, a third after party. It was maybe eight in the morning and they open at five. So, for practical reasons we went there.

Did you already know each other?

Isak No, we met through friends at a party on a summer evening that was very long. It didn’t take long—we met each other and then we were just with each other. ✺