Retail Designer’s Guide to Oslo
Overshadowed by iconic product design and cutting-edge architecture of Stockholm, Copenhagen and Helsinki; Oslo feels like a bit of an underdog. But don’t let that fool you as the city has plenty in store for every design fanatic.
Without the pressure of expectations and very much under the radar of the creative world, the Norwegian design scene had the opportunity to be very experimental and off-piste (cue skiing reference) both with materials and forms. This certainly shows when walking around the city.
Aker Brygge wharf, the most modern district of Oslo built on the side of the old shipbuilding yard, is just one area worth mentioning. Defining itself as more than just a shopping centre but rather a city within a city and a melting pot of both locals and visitors, this area includes a mixture of shops, restaurants, and the jewel in its crown – the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art designed by Renzo Piano (the architect behind The Shard in London). The stream of people flows seamlessly between outdoor and indoor areas and you barely register the change as you open the door to enter yet another section full of shops. One of my personal favourites is the H&M store which features an illuminated, sparkly tiled façade that together with the feature mall ceiling creates a true sensory extravaganza.
On Karl Johans Gate, a pedestrianised boulevard in the city centre, you can find Paleet shopping mall. What is truly unique about this luxury retail destination is the choice of textures and materials throughout the shared. It creates an environment which is swanky and opulent yet still cosy and not at all intimidating. The ceiling features a suspended transparent metal grid with exposed soffit tinted with a deep copper hue. The warm light bounces off reflective surfaces animating the space in a theatrical fashion. The warm and golden palette of coppers and cedar cladding feature throughout.
As can be expected from a Scandinavian country, there is a huge number of décor and interior boutiques dotted around the city. Majority of them can be found around the neighbourhoods of Grünerløkka and Sentrum. Norwegian product design is characterised by minimalist, organic forms and its focus on functionality and durability. Here form and function work in unison creating items which are both practical and stylish.
When you need a break from exploring all that Oslo design scene has to offer, head to Tim Wendelboe intimate café where the finest beans in the world are served in specific shaped ceramic ware to be enjoyed in a minimalist Nordic style interior. Then head across to the banks of Akerselva River to enjoy the natural environment, scenic waterfalls and picturesque bridges which inspired many local artists (including Edvard Munch no less!) over the years and let Oslo inspire you too.