When one thinks of Modernism, one’s mind might conjure images of Le Corbusier chairs, Mies van der Rohe floor plans, Braun stereos, and wide ribbon windows. One typically wouldn’t think of 19th century Neoclassical apartments, their detailed moldings and accommodations perhaps a little too ornate to read as “modern.” The thing about these seemingly disparate styles, though, is that they are informed by remarkably similar impulses and objectives — simplicity, symmetry, harmony, functionality — and when paired together, often yield beautiful results. Just ask graphic designer Steffen Olsen.
Olsen and his partner, Erlend Tårnesvik Dreiås, share a taste for pared-down Modernist furnishings and fashions, their furniture a mixture of industrial materials, simple forms, and mid-century influences. When they first moved in together seven years ago, they rented a flat in a new-construction building. While the clean lines and nondescript styling of new buildings might seem perfectly suited to a couple with Modernist leanings, the two felt that something was sorely missing. “It lacked both soul and personality,” Steffen notes, “just blank walls and a generic layout.” After three years, the couple decided it was time to make the leap to a home of their own. They ended up purchasing a centrally-located apartment in an old, 1897 building — a space that their realtor had described as “charmingly off-level.”
Paired with Steffen and Erland’s contemporary style, the apartment’s details are able to shine. Beautiful moldings that, by another hand, might recede to the background, are allowed to come to the fore, a subtly cool monochrome palette accentuating their details. Simultaneously, individual pieces of design — a yellow floor lamp, a Componibili nightstand, an Eames hang-it-all — are able to act as beautiful punctuations, accents that complement and contrast against the overarching schema. It is a home that is at once elegant and whimsical, minimal and effortlessly warm. —Max