The Skandium Story
We are the leading company in the UK supplying modern contemporary Scandinavian lifestyle products for the home, outdoor, soft contract and hospitality.
Our position has strength but with it comes responsibility.
Our aim is to be pioneering, curious, constantly challenging how we act, think, communicate and design.
All our communication, shops, online sales, staff, PR, advertising, events, social media etc. shall have one voice and reflect our beliefs, our attitude and play and highlight to our strength in the position of being the number one in Scandinavian lifestyle.
The values that support our brand are:
First and foremost.
Seeking constant improvement in everything we do, never standing still.
Our focus and interest are on now and the future, while we represent the best in Scandinavian design heritage.
Skandium is a British company, founded in 1999 by three Scandinavians. With the aim of being the best retailer of Scandinavian design & furniture in the world, giving customers a wide product choice while being served by knowledgeable staff in a well-presented environment. The family of stores in London consists of two Skandium stores, a Republic of Fritz Hansen store and an online store. Skandium also does wholesale to other retailers, contract sales for commercial projects and interior design for private clients.
Skandium is exclusive agent in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland for the brands Marimekko, Skagerak and Woodnotes.
About the founders: Magnus Englund is Swedish with a background in fashion wholesale and retailing. He's the author of two best-selling books on Scandinavian design. Christina Schmidt is Finnish and previously worked as a fashion and life style photographer through her own studio. She is a product designer and interior designer as well as art consultant, advising on art for clients to all budgets.
Magnus and Christina founded Skandium in 1998, since summer 2016, both Magnus and Christina are no longer active within the company.
Christopher Seidenfaden is Danish with a background in business journalism and finances. His family built the Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen, famous for the PH lamps.
Jan Vejsholt joined as Managing Director in the summer 2014 and has a long career history from some of Scandinavia’s biggest design companies such as Kvadrat and Fritz Hansen amongst others.
Skandium employs 50 talented staff in the shops, warehouse and office.
The first Skandium store opened on the 15th September 1999 at 72 Wigmore Street, London W1
From left to right: founders Christopher Seidenfaden, Christina Schmidt and Magnus Englund in 1999
Welcome to Skandium: your one-stop-shop for all things Nordic, from lighting to vases, to fabrics and toys. Mr. Wolf sits down for a chat with Christina Schmidt, the mastermind behind this design wonderland, to talk bank managers, pots, and Studio Skandium.
Design store Skandium is best described as the ‘United Nations of Scandinavian Design’, in the words of co-founder Christina Schmidt. The store showcases the best of Scandinavian modernism in different forms; furniture and textiles are found alongside toys and kitchenware, including mugs with the loveable Moomin characters.
Schmidt and Englund had the idea to open a store whilst holidaying back in Finland during the summer of 1998. Coincidently, it was the centenary year of Alvar Aalto’s birth, the Finnish architect so imminently setting standards for the modern Finnish identity. The work of Alvar Aalto was celebrated everywhere, from buildings, over interiors to a special release of wine. When visiting Stockman’s, a local department store, they came across a display of sleek cooking pots as part of the newly introduced range Iittala Tools by the Finnish brand Iittala. The pots as they recall, were so simple, they could have been drawn by a child. Nevertheless, they represented both in looks and quality a contemporary continuation of the modernist idea. These pots, together with the design by Alavar Aalto led the pair to bring Scandinavian design to London, summarising the achievements of all the great architects and designers from the entire Scandinavian market under one roof, naming the idea ‘The United Nations of Scandinavian Design’ in short, Skandium.
Gaining the initial funding to start the store was not simple, armed with their business plan and a copy of Wallpaper* Magazine, which had just been released with a supplement on Stockholm, it felt like perfect timing so they pitched the idea to a bank. After finishing the pitch the bank manager replied ‘I don’t quite get it… What wallpaper do you want to sell?’
However, a chance meeting with Danish Investor Christopher Seidenfaden at a party provided the opportunity they were looking for. Seidenfaden loved the idea; his own family having built Danish lighting manufacturer Louis Poulsen, he understood what the pair were trying to do and provided the capital. This was enough to get Skandium off the ground and into their first shop in Marylebone, London.
The success of the first shop was shortly followed by a Selfridges concession and a shop in the affluent Brompton district. Adding to that the brand now also produces its own products under the label Studio Skandium, with some pieces created in-house whilst others are made in collaboration with emerging designers, such as fabrics made with Emma Lonsdale illustrations.
Walking into the shop now it is easy to see why it has grown from strength to strength. Fritz Hansen chairs, Örsjö Belysning lamps, and Iitttala glassware are able to shine like never before. Objects are no longer over-shadowed by complicated chunky design with impractical features that can make the simplistic nature of Scandinavian design seem almost too simple. Schmidt explains ‘Scandinavian design is perceived by many people as rather boring if they don’t understand it, because it is not made to impress you, it is made to live with you like an old friend. It’s just comfortable and easy.’
Words: Jameson Kergozou