matsalen and matbaren by Ilse Crawford


Leading British interior designer Ilse Crawford has just completed the interiors for two new restaurants at the Grand Hotel Stockholm in Sweden. The two restaurants, dining room Matsalen and food bar Matbaren, are run by Mathias Dahlgren, a leading chef who is reinventing Swedish regional cuisine. The restaurants are offering two different dining experiences and therefore needed two very different interiors to complement the restaurants’ atmospheres.


Designer Ilse Crawford about the project: Mathias Dahlgren’s food philosophy was our starting point: “There is a gastronomic philosophy behind this project, where we see it from both a local and a global perspective,” he says. “The local side of it wants to be proud of its heritage, environment, people and of course its products. The global side of it wants to be open to new experiences, new meetings between people, new ideas and foreign products. We would like to be a part of creating the new Swedish identity.”

Matbaren, the food bar, which is a quicker eating experience, and the Matsalen, the slower, more sensual restaurant, we have made two spaces that can be smelt, heard and felt in very different ways. In the Matbaren it is a brisk atmosphere, with the solid feel of a station, made in robust and resonant materials, such as wood panelling, encaustic tile and zinc. The furniture here reflects the menu. There are tables in natural wood, and raw Swedish primitive pieces from the 1700s. There is a mix of Swedish, Scandinavian and global pieces, such as Pyra chairs by Marten Cyren, lights by Jorn Utzen, and chairs by Vico Magistretti. Also some tables in cast iron – a reference to the fact that this was once the showroom of the cast iron kings the Bolinder brothers. Here the food bar and kitchen are a part of the room.

Meanwhile in the Matsalen the atmosphere is more tantalising, intimate and rarified, a place to spend time. The door is a discreet entrance off the bar. This is private space and the materials and furniture reflect this. There is parquet floor in Hungarian Point, Chesterfield sofas in velvet, and golden metals glint softly. The lighting is a mix of beautiful pieces with Swedish classics; a chandelier by Carlo Scarpa and the classic Swedish kitchen lamp, in brass. This is comfortable, sensual, about a more extended relationship with food. In a nod to the history of the Grand Hotel many of the chairs have been rescued from around the hotel and revitalised in soft naturally dyed yellow leather and partnered with chairs by Josef Frank from Svenskt Tenn while the tables have burlesque curvaceous bases designed by Studioilse. In the bar, the walls have been painted a dark indigo to show off its historic floor and the gilded screen from Studio Job. This is a narrative of kitchen implements, Swedish rustic tools and Viking long boats and was specially commissioned for the Mathias Dahlgren restaurant.

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