• Personal at Norrgavel

    Two years ago, the Norrgavel store moved to a new address at Stora Torget in Uppsala. A beautiful and inviting space that welcomes both regular customers and spontaneous passers-by. As soon as you step over the threshold, you are greeted by the unique atmosphere of the premises. The scents of Scandinavian wood, linseed oil, soap, tempera paints, linen and wool textiles - an overall experience that evokes a feeling of having come home. There is a harmonious calm beyond the hustle and bustle, and the furniture, which is made from pure natural materials throughout, inspires and arouses curiosity. Sandra Engström is the store manager at Norrgavel and welcomes customers together with her dedicated team of interior design salespeople.

    – I'm really proud of the store and our way of working. Having grown up in an entrepreneurial family, I can wholeheartedly relate to the Norrgavel family business. It becomes very personal and I'm really passionate about it. It's more than a job, more like a lifestyle," says Sandra.

    With the move, the store premises became 200 square metres smaller than at the previous address in Uppsala. This meant a new store concept with more focus on furniture and crafts and fewer small items. The feeling is more like a studio or exhibition, where everything is clear and coherent. The spaciousness and feel of the premises is unique and really interacts with Norrgavel's range.

    – There is such a calm here, beyond the hustle and bustle, even though the shop is right in the centre. Most visitors stay for a long time, thinking and feeling their way around. Every day we meet people who come in and get to know Norrgavel for the first time. It's great fun to show them our world. And of course, it's an honour to have so many regular customers. Those who started decorating with Norrgavel often return, says Sandra.

    “Natural materials are a common thread running through the entire range”.

    Most companies talk about sustainability today, but for Norrgavel, sustainability was the very reason the company was founded in the early 1990s. The company's founder and designer, Nirvan Richter, was a newly graduated architect who was tired of products that didn't measure up. Instead, he started to create what he felt was missing from the market - functional and beautiful furniture that is designed to really stand the test of time. And natural materials are a common thread that runs through the entire range. Textiles in pure wool and linen, sofa cushions made from natural latex, seabird feathers and rubber tiles, Scandinavian woods with open finishes that are healthy and smell good - soap, oil, egg oil tempera. Healthy materials and tactile textures that provide a cosy and subdued soundscape in the home.

    “We are consistent in what we do. You know that there is a genuine and long-term thought behind each piece of furniture”.

    – This creates a sense of security among customers that Norrgavel does not sell short-term trends. We are consistent in what we do. You know that there is a genuine and long-term thought behind each piece of furniture. We offer something completely unique and even though I surround myself with the furniture every day, both at work and at home, I am constantly discovering new details or functions, says Sandra.

    When decorating your first home together or moving to a larger home as your family grows, it's easy to opt for quick and cheap solutions. We have become accustomed to a mentality characterised by disposable items and fast-moving trends that come and go. But it's usually cheaper in the long run to shop thoughtfully and choose furnishings that you can live with for a long time. Waiting and buying Norrgavel furniture only when the children are older is not something Sandra advocates:

    “It's usually cheaper in the long run to shop wisely and choose furnishings that you can live with for a long time”.

    – I think it's the opposite, because our furniture is made to be used and can be easily maintained and restored to new condition. You are so careful about what you feed your children, but you don't always think about surrounding yourself with clean and good materials in the home, where you spend so much time when your children are young. My children grew up with Norrgavel furniture and it has worked really well. For me, it feels completely natural to opt out of synthetics and plastics in the home. The children appreciate beautiful things and tactile materials. You don't have to buy everything at once and instead let it take its time. There is also a joy in longing, saving and buying as you go along.

    “You are so careful about what you feed your children, but you don't always think about surrounding yourself with clean and good materials in your home”.

    And when it comes to decorating children's rooms, the furniture doesn't have to be from a children's collection that needs to be replaced after a few years. There are more long-term ways to decorate children's rooms wisely. Norrgavels furniture is general in its design and it's a nice idea that the furniture from the children's room can stay with the child for all the years they live at home and then follow them when they move to their first home.

    –Both my children have bookshelves in their rooms. It will accompany them in their first student accommodation and can follow them all the way to the retirement home. Perfect for children's books now, student literature in their first flat and maybe they want to add more shelves for their adult home. Console with carrying strip is great for toys, as a desk Sparring with writing board works perfectly and is easy to restore to new condition. Solid wood with an open surface treatment is perfect for the children's room, just sand it down and it's like new again. A large woollen rug is great for the children's room - soft and warm to sit and play on, but also naturally dirt-repellent. The bag shelf and hook strip offer smart storage in the children's room. And Pinnpall can be a bedside table and used as an extra chair when you have guests, says Sandra.

    “Solid wood with an open finish is perfect for children's rooms, just sand it down and it's as good as new again”.

    Many regular customers are familiar with the three-part core values that permeate all processes at Norrgavel. But it is usually only when they have lived with the furniture for some time that the values become interesting. Talking about ecological, humanistic and existential issues in connection with an interior design purchase is not usually a common occurrence, but at Norrgavel it's a big deal. They encourage reflection and really let a purchase take time. To see the purchase of furnishings as something solemn where you may have to give up something else to be able to afford it. Sandra sees the fact that the furniture also requires some time in the form of care and maintenance only as something positive, as a sensible counterpoint to the "maintenance-free" ideal that otherwise prevails in society:

    – It's a satisfying feeling to redecorate your furniture and the joy of making it look new every time. It's a positive ritual where you respect what you have in your home. Many first-time customers are afraid of getting it wrong, but it takes a lot to mess up a solid wood table. It's all about testing and learning how wood works, the most natural material you can choose to decorate with. Of course, you can strive to keep it looking new, but if you live in a family, there will be marks and nicks. That kind of wear and tear can always be restored, says Sandra.

    “You just have to test and learn how wood works, the most natural material you can choose to decorate with”.

    But how do you know what you really want and what your style is? How big should the carpet at the sofa corner be and how can you organise all the things in the hallway? Sometimes it can be difficult to put your finger on what you really want or need. A good way to identify needs and present different possibilities is to gather inspiration through an interior design service. A service that has become increasingly popular at Norrgavel in recent years.

    – Most commonly, we help decorate a dining area, for example, or perhaps give advice on the size of a carpet or choice of sofa model. But sometimes entire homes need to be decorated. Usually we meet once to analyse your needs and then we make suggestions and meet again. We discuss and debate until we arrive at something that feels really good. It is important to find a harmonious rhythm with nice transitions in the rooms. We work with mood boards where wooden materials are combined with textiles and colours, says Sandra.

    “It is important to find a harmonious rhythm with nice transitions in the rooms”.

    How do you decorate your own home when you are surrounded by interior design and talk about interior design at work all day - and what is your personal favourite? Sandra finds it hard to pick just one favourite candidate from the range:

    – Sofa 100 is a big favourite, where I spend the most time when I'm at home. The Länstol armchair is more than a piece of furniture, it's also a work of art. And the kids love to sit in it. The Massiv furniture series is also fantastic and the Träsoffa rak. The new China-Windsor armchair is very special. But I can't think of a single product at Norrgavel that you could be disappointed with. You can be completely confident that it will be a good choice. In my home, I have decorated with a neutral and coherent colour scheme. It is easy to change small details such as cushions or throws if you want to update the look.

    “You can rest assured that it will be a good choice”.

    Sandra's passion and love for pure and solid materials is unmistakable. So is her fascination with a consistent and timeless design language, whether it's for furniture or utility items. A conviction that feels genuinely inspiring and heartfelt. It is easy to understand why customers continue to shop here, once they have started decorating with Norrgavel.

    Photo: Fanny Oldenburg

    September, 2022

    Also read UNT's other article on Norrgavel - "New start on smaller living space".