Perfect fit - Issue 173 - Magazine | Monocle

thumbnail text

In an industry as fast-paced as fashion, the value of long-term collaboration can easily be forgotten. But some creative relationships deserve to be more than just flings. Stockholm-based luxury fashion label Toteme has called on design and architecture studio Halleroed for 10 years to help create a visual identity for its offices and shops. What started as a commission to design the label’s first office in New York has flourished into a global partnership. Toteme’s co-founder Karl Lindman and Christian Halleröd, his counterpart at Halleroed, have worked together to design shops in London, New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Seoul, establishing a design language that is as recognisable as the brand’s signature outerwear and contrast-stitch knits. They have proven that architecture and good interior design can help to define a label. “Our shops have become the physical expression of Toteme as we develop into a global business,” says Lindman.

When monocle visits Toteme’s Stockholm headquarters in the Stureplan neighbourhood, we find Halleröd sitting across from Lindman – a position you’ll find him in whether the duo are sharing design references or plotting their next project. “With every new shop, we’re getting closer to what Toteme stands for,” says Halleröd. “As interior architects, we try to align with the brands that we partner with by following their work and putting in the research.” When the pair envision a new space, they try to capture Toteme’s aesthetic with neutral palettes and playful antique finds that add warmth and signal that this is far from your average Scandinavian minimalist label. “We want to be generous to our customers,” says Lindman (pictured, on left, with Halleröd). “Their time is important.”


The first design reference that Lindman and Elin Kling, his partner and Toteme co-founder, shared with Halleröd was the work of Donald Judd, the US artist known for his clean colour palettes. “Looking back, I think that it was the first hint of what we would develop together,” says Lindman. A sense of restraint has come to define every boutique that they have since worked on, starting with the brand’s flagship on Stockholm’s Biblioteksgatan 5, designed to resemble a townhouse, complete with a lounge, a walk-in wardrobe and a bedroom. In New York, they went on to design an even more distinctive space in which metal shelving is placed next to striking patterned sofas by Austrian architect and artist Josef Frank. Customers come to replenish their denim and silk shirts but equally to see the vibrant patterns on Frank’s sofas up close and take in the interiors. “The design always remains pure and minimal to reflect Toteme,” says Halleröd.

More recently, the pair worked on the brand’s first London opening. In a Queen Anne revival building on Mayfair’s Mount Street, you’ll find a marble statue from the 1900s by Swedish sculptor Carl Milles, a steel sofa by Australian industrial designer Marc Newson and various items by designers from the 1930s Swedish Grace aesthetic movement, including a coffee table by Otto Schulz and a couch by Olle Engkvist. “Every new project starts with a site visit and broad conversations about the city and Toteme’s place in it,” says Lindman. “The physical space that we work on needs to reflect where the brand is at that given moment. I’m not interested in applying a formula. Every city and neighbourhood is unique and should be treated accordingly.” For Totême’s co-founder, this process of applying the brand’s design values and Swedish heritage in different contexts is the most exciting part of the retail-expansion process.

Toteme’s next and biggest outpost will open this spring on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the original Stockholm flagship is currently under renovation and doubling in size. You can expect more Marc Newson pieces; the designer is a fixture in all of the brand’s flagships. For Stockholm’s, Lindman bought a sleek silver cashier desk from the 1990s that was designed for the Skoda boutique in Berlin. And he has become fond of a little ceramic statue of leaping zebras; so far, he has acquired two of these at auction and they are now installed in Stockholm and London. “If you come across another one, please get it for me,” he says.


Halleröd nods, understanding what types of objects appeal to Lindman. “That’s the beauty of our collaboration,” he says. “We have built a common understanding of what we like. We share memories and references so, if I mention a zebra, for example, Christian immediately knows which one I mean.”

As in any long-term relationship, the key to their success seems to be communication. “It’s our job to move different ideas forward, be it materials, techniques or architectural elements,” says Halleröd. “We’re always in dialogue.” According to Lindman, this type of open exchange between trusted partners is “part of evolving the brand while retaining our dna”. “Sometimes the best way to move forward is to be consistent,” he says.

Totême and the Halleroed studio also share a sense of pride about their Swedish roots, which, in typical Scandinavian fashion, their joint design projects express discreetly. “Eight years ago we found a sofa by functional designer Bruno Mathsson for the first Totême flagship in Stockholm,” says Halleröd. “We are still finding new pieces from Scandinavian design history. Stockholm is quite clean in terms of lines and colour palettes. It’s not like Paris, where there are decorative layers to the interiors.” 

Further nods to their homeland can be found in details such as pewter railings made by Swedish ironmongers or the Milles statue in the London boutique. “We want to bring a minimalist Swedish aesthetic to different parts of the world and highlight the country’s design and art whenever we can,” says Lindman. “These shops are like embassies for us. We put our hearts into these spaces to leave room for emotions and discovery.” — L

Share on:






Go back: Contents

Monocle Design Awards


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio


  • The Continental Shift