Financial Times’ Cult Shop: Modernity

Modernity is proud be chosen as the Cult Shop in the Financial Times How To Spend It, November 4, 2017.

THE CULT SHOP

MODERNITY

A bounteous collection of vintage Nordic furnishings – and a sprinkling of
contemporary delights – put this Stockholm boutique firmly on the style map

Stockholm’s gallery-centric Ostermalm area
abounds with antiques dealers and design
purveyors, but real aficionados of vintage
Nordic design all know one name by heart:
Modernity. The exquisitely curated shop was
opened in 1998 by Andrew Duncanson, a Scot with a
design retail background (who was later joined by Isaac
Pineus, pictured above, on left, with Duncanson), and
is anything but a typically spare Scandi-chic setting. “I
wanted to get away from the 50-shades-of-white Swedish
norm,” says Duncanson, “so I opted for grey walls.”
Within those walls you’ll find a bounty of furniture,
lighting, jewellery and decorative objects by the greats
of 20th-century design, including Hans Wegner, Finn
Juhl, Georg Jensen, Arne Jacobsen, Poul Hennigsen and
Alvar Aalto, as well as works by lesser-known but equally
accomplished artisans.

While 99 per cent of the pieces
are by midcentury Nordic designers, there are a few
contemporary items – and Isamu Noguchi’s famous
Akari paper lamps (£630) as “the Japanese aesthetic
works well with the Swedish sensibility”.
Each space features an eclectic mix, but the abundant
jewellery and ceramics section is especially eyecatching.
Custom shelves and glass vitrines highlight
dramatic pieces, such as 1960s silver
collar necklaces (from £1,000) by Ibe
Dahlquist for Georg Jensen, and a gold
and moonstone ring (£1,889) by
Swedish maker Sigurd Persson, to
dazzling effect. Delicate ceramic and
porcelain objects are a particular
passion for Duncanson, whose own
Wilhelm Kåge ceramic sculpture and a
glass vessel by Tapio Wirkkala were
among the store’s first sales. Current
highlights include ethereal, organic
vases (from £3,500) by sought-after contemporary
Italian maker Sandra Davolio; a 1980s celadon-glazed
teapot (£598, pictured below) by Signe Persson Melin
for Rörstrand; and a rare, signed Axel Salto for Royal
Copenhagen vessel (£50,000) dating from the 1950s.


Duncanson specialises in provenance: a 1949 Finn
Juhl for Niels Vodder sculptural Chieftain armchair
(£165,000) in teak and leather is “in mint condition,
which is almost impossible to find”; and an iconic Poul
Hennigsen Question Mark floor lamp (£22,000) from
the 1930s. Among Modernity’s most prized offerings is
a one-of-a-kind Brazilian rosewood and brass sideboard
(£35,000) designed by Ernst Kühn in 1935; it contrasts
beautifully with a sleek, customisable bar cabinet (to
order, from £30,000) by Ilse Crawford.
An array of 1930s textiles – hand-knotted kilims
(from £15,000) by Märta Måås-Fjetterström; a leather
and fabric 1950s tapestry (£2,917) by Sten Kauppi –
lend the showroom a homely feel. Candlesticks (£533)
by Swedish maker Stig Lindberg; a Finnish leaded-glass
vase (£2,917) by Gunnel Nyman for Nuutajärvi Notsjö;
and sculptural wooden bowls (from £300) by Jonny
Mattsson from the 1950s round out the design delights.


With a client base that ranges from MoMA and the
Los Angeles County Museum of Art to
“people who just come in and want
to buy something small and beautiful,”
Duncanson buys with a breadth of
products in mind. “With pieces ranging
from £1,000 to £250,000, the whole
concept is to offer an experience. Every
object has a story to tell, and I really
feel like each one ultimately finds its
right home.”

CHRISTINA OHLY EVANS
Sibyllegatan 6, 11442 Stockholm (+468-
208 025; modernity.se).