Swedish Storytelling – Midsummer

At Rowen & Wren, we have long looked up to, respected and admired the Swedish way. Not solely their seemingly effortless eye for simple, beautiful design but indeed many aspects to their daily rituals – their belief in slowing down, savouring, and putting first rest, play and family ahead of work. 

It is fitting then that we find ourselves habitually scrolling through the enviable feeds of Swedish Instagrammers and visual storytellers such as Catarina Skoglund’s. Her depictions of island life – home for her is gloriously on one of Sweden’s car-free islands – captured so heroically from her lens, inspire us daily.

In time for the Swedish tradition of Midsummer, she invited to her family’s garden, a small selection of pieces from our garden collection to lay the table fit for a feast. Here, we share her photojournalism story and the conversation we enjoyed together once the celebrations had been and gone…

Describe your setting – where is home and what is the land like that surrounds you?

“We live on a car-free island in the archipelago, just outside the city of Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast. I love the nature here, living in a way so closely connected to the cycle of the seasons with the sea just around the corner. We are surrounded by greenery. Even now, I still find it hard to believe that the city is just fifteen minutes away by ferry.”

Is outdoor living something that comes quite naturally to you and your family?

“Oh yes, we spend a lot of time in our garden, and often make small excursions on the island as well. I grew up in the Dalarna countryside, so nature has always been an important part of my life. I want my children to grow up close to nature and to experience the freedom that comes with it, just like I did.”

Tell us the story behind this imagery and was it taken over the course of a single evening?

“Actually, the images were taken over the course of two days, in time with the Midsummer celebration. I began shooting one sunny morning when my youngest daughter Penny and I were picking flowers in the garden. Other images were taken when the children had gone to bed with the garden there to enjoy with my husband. The day after, the rain was pouring down. It’s fascinating how quick the weather can change around here. At times you can actually see bad weather coming in from the mainland. We love to look from the window and observe the change.”

What did you serve for your family’s feast?

“We celebrate Midsummer in Sweden in mid-June – a time when it feels like the sun never sets. Normally, people gather around a maypole that is raised, but this year has been different due to the pandemic, but we can still enjoy many of the other traditions. We often begin the day by picking wildflowers and making wreaths to put in our hair. Then, in the evening, we have a big feast and eat dishes such as pickled herring and boiled new potatoes with fresh dill, soured cream and chives. For dessert, we serve strawberries with cream, even though I prefer to eat them with goat’s milk.”

What is summertime to you?

“It is warm breezes and bright evenings. In June, I love the feeling that a long summer lies ahead of us with sleep-ins, taking the day as it comes and an evening dip in the ocean to always look forward to. And there is no summer without travelling home to Dalarna as well – that’s a must!”

We would so love to know, what do your Rowen & Wren pieces say to you? What feeling, what tone do they stir?

“Classic and elegant. Everything feels handpicked out of love.”

Was there a particular piece that spoke to you most?

“The Anker Outdoor String Lights. I really like their vintage look and the warm setting they create in the garden.”

How would you describe the Swedish approach to interiors and decorative detail?

“People talk about Swedish minimalism, but I don’t see much of that anymore. Swedes tend to use more colour, patterns and textiles, in fact inspired by the British interior, or at least I am!”

We love supporting like-minded communities, so who are our favourite other accounts to follow on Instagram?

“I find a lot of inspiration from fellow Swedish accounts like @babes_in_boyland, @hannahperssons and @elsabillgren. All three of them have an eye for beautiful details, mixed with interiors and nature – three of my greatest motivations.”

 

See the full story on Instagram and visit Catarina’s feed here.