Thursday, 14 February 2013

Stockholm Design Week 2013 - Lost in Södermalm

As this is a blog about my design adventures as someone new to Sweden, I'll be honest.  I didn't make it to my desired destination that day.  Well, I did, but..I didn't.

I intended to check out the Knitted House exhibit at the Architecture Museum.  According to the app that I had downloaded, the museum is found in Södermalm.  What a great way to start design week and I could wander around the museum exploring my other love, architecture.

I had researched the route in advance.  There were two ways I could go and both I had taken previously.  I chose to cross over Gamla Stan (the old town) and was careful not to veer off my route for any reason.  I reached the bridge but the sign said "Nacka", so I went in the other direction to find another bridge.

Did I mention it was snowing?  A lot.

After approximately ten minutes of looking for another bridge and at zero visibility, I decided to turn back.

This is a sliding doors moment for me because had I been able to see more than three metres in front of me, I would have been able to see another bridge and by pure accident I would have ended up in Skeppsholmen, which is where the Modern Museum is and where the signature exhibit for Design Week, Glass Elephant, was being held and well, where I was actually supposed to be going.

But I turned back and crossed that Nacka bridge and yes, I got to Södermalm.  Once over the bridge, I took a quick peek at the Google map on my tablet - for good measure.  I climbed up the stairs in front of me and thereby to Södermalm proper.  I had accidentally found my way to the main drag, Götgatan.  With a self satisfied chuckle, I headed up the street.  That was easy!

Did I mention the snow?  Not the fluffy light-hearted stuff people write songs about.  This is the stuff the breaks a gal's spirit, heavy and wet.

I made it to the intersection, I was there, or so I thought.  As I walk along the street to the museum I am already a little worried.  I think to myself, maybe it's just my North American mentality but why is the street so small?  And, I don't know, but why aren't there any signs?  Hmm, maybe Swedes aren't that interested in architecture museums and that's why it's so remote.  As I travel farther along the street I begin to feel more and more uneasy.  And people seem to be looking at me as though I'm trespassing on their turf.  Perhaps these people could have helped me find my way on their turf.  Perhaps.  I didn't ask.  No, this was personal.  Me vs. Södermalm, me vs. Sweden!

Back I go to Götgatan.  But here is a bustling city centre.  The culture school, signs (yes, signs!) for an exhibit at the aforementioned modern museum, a market and a subway station...this must be it.  I try again... and back.  Up some stairs... and back.  I decide I need a coffee break. The snow was seeping through my wool coat.  I didn't think I needed a thicker coat as I was supposed to be inside most of the day.  That was clearly becoming an unattainable dream.  I didn't ask for directions at the coffee shop.  They didn't speak English anyway.  Everyone in Stockholm speaks English!  I decide to cancel the trip and go home.

Ugh.  The snow.  It seems that in Södermalm the wind blows in a circle and no matter which direction you turn, snow attacks your face. One aggressive snowflake stabbing you in the eyeball is unpleasant, two, irritating, nämen*...all day long!?!

You get the picture.


I remained lost on a street very annoyingly called Ringvagen, like an insidious reminder that I may never get off this merry-go-round.   I did eventually get off but not before another bridge dilemma, which I will spare you and another coffee shop with no English...and a lot more snow.

I didn't see the Knitted House.  The Knitted House is not on Södermalm. Remember that bridge I would have crossed had I seen it, the one to Skeppsholmen?  Ja, the Knitted House is there. 


Nämen – A colloquialism meaning “no but".  The Swedes say this a lot.  Both when they are happy or surprised (running into a good friend on the street – “Nämen, hej!") or in times of great irritation (this is the context used here).

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