We met up with the founders of Stockholm-based bedware and furniture brand Magniberg, Bengt Thornefors and Nina Norgren. With contrasting materials such as poplin, satin, lace and jersey, they bring energy to the bedroom. Their goal? To create their very own universe.
Your background spans from fashion, at brands such as Acne, Saint Laurent, Hope and Ganni, to graphic and floral design, how does this inform what you do with Magniberg?
The fashion industry has always managed to add emotions to products. It’s like when you buy a shirt – you don’t just buy the shirt but rather the energy and emotions that are tied into it. That’s something we bring with us, and try to translate to the home. We live in an Ikea country, but at the same time our generation wants more than just a product. Quality is not just about how long it lasts, but what emotions that are linked to it. Of course we offer fine Egyptian cotton bed linen, but we do it with a passion.
If you go back to my time at Acne, I was surrounded by lots of talented people who had this vision. Interior design is lacking that.
Nina has brought an organic feeling from her time as a florist, something that’s essential to Magniberg’s DNA. Building the brand through social media, influencers and so on, brings quick fixes. But building substance organically, takes time. If you have something to say, not everyone will understand it immediately.
What is luxury to you?
As a consumer you want more in the bag than the product itself. It’s all about the emotional values. For Magniberg it’s not enough to say we’re organic. The fact that we meet our seamstresses and suppliers are built in our core values. That’s luxury, you don’t have to tell everything to people’s faces.
What hides inside four corners of a pillowcase? A shirt from Comme des Garçons is filled with emotional values that you bring with you on your body. That label is essential, it may be superficial, but the world we live in needs to be filled with superficial emotional things. That’s how we work as humans.
To us, luxury can be washed jersey together with white fine Egyptian cotton poplin and mother of pearl buttons. It is a contrast between the bold and the beautiful. A washed black t-shirt may not have been considered luxury, but to us it is. We often draw parallels with the wardrobe, it doesn’t just include everything that glimmers. You want the tie, the shirt and the fancy trousers. But also, the worn in t-shirt.
In our current times, our time is precious, as a result experiences are luxury. It is as part of the privileges we have in this part of the world. We try to teach our children that if you buy something – appreciate it. We sell that energy through Magniberg.
You also produce furniture inspired by your (Bengt’s) upbringing in the Stockholm suburb Högdalen in the 1980s. Is there anything you miss from this time and place?
It seems stereotypical to talk about growing up in a suburb, but that has formed everything I have achieved. It was the typical ABC architecture, it was quite square. But there was an energy. I had friends living in villas in the same area, to visit them was like being on a discovery trip. You had a bit of both worlds in Högdalen and that made me kind of dream of living in a villa as well. Aesthetically, it has formed me so much more than I thought, in everything I do. I bring with me all the good things from growing up here. The not so good parts I try to turn into something beautiful.
My family and I lived in the centre, just by the sports hall, with the big parking lot in front of us. I often spent time in the laundry room and folded bed sheets with my mother. I grew up in a home where there was an emotional idea about a chair. We had a summer house, a typical red cottage – that aesthetic together with a pair of Adidas tracksuits, is something I grew up with. The clash between Swedish allmoge [see description below] and Adidas, there is something beautiful in that.
We love your take on high and low culture when it comes to envisioning Magniberg. You make as much reference to a pair of Adidas tracksuits to Swedish design history, describe that meeting! And how can it translate in Magniberg looks, both bedware and furniture?
Something that’s always lingering in the back of our minds is allmoge – a traditional Swedish peasantry genre of architecture that was seen up until the 20th century. It had a focal emphasis on natural wooden materials and honest craftsmanship – I was surrounded by that aesthetic growing up and today it is a part of our inspiration. Designing furniture just made sense to us because it’s something that we’ve always been into and we felt that it helps us to present the Magniberg universe.
We are also inspired by the energy of neoclassicism, a name given to Western movements in the decorative and visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture that draw inspiration from the ‘classical’ art and culture of classical antiquity. We want to take the conservative, turn it around, and recreate it again. Neoclassicism is like a beating pulse in our brand. We want to create an aesthetic, a universe, with Magniberg.
I guess mixing Adidas, furniture from architects like Axel Einar Hjort, Carl Westman, allmoge and our view on flowers create a context that is a part of the Magniberg aesthetics.
Some of your heroes are Robert Mapplethorpe, Wolfgang Tillmans, Bram Bogart and Bettina Rheims, how do they influence you?
Robert Mapplethorpe’s artistry is about balance for us. We are interested in how to move between high and low culture. Conservative elements with the imperfect. With Wolfgang Tillmans, the imperfect is extremely interesting to us. We are free enough to add this when we work on our visual identity.
We stand for beauty. It’s interesting. What is beauty? Bettina Rheims puts her finger on it. Bram Bogart’s way to work with colours against each other brings me back to my childhood. My mother had a red and black pillow combined with a yellow duvet cover. What the hell? Who has that? Bogart prays an open mind.
What is your favourite city in the world and why?
Berlin, it’s sums up our ideas about high and low culture and finding balance. It brings dynamics to what we do. Hopefully we move back there again one day, at least partly.
Who should we meet next and why?
Our talented friends. Christopher Lundman, creative director of Tiger of Sweden and the Nordic region’s most intellectual designer. Frida Bard, the best women’s wear designer in the Nordic region and Christopher Nying, designer and the creative force of Our Legacy,