Stockholm apartment by Tekla Evelina Severin

Leave It To a Swedish Designer to Reinvent the White Box


You wouldn’t be alone if your first thought, upon seeing pictures of Daniel Heckscher’s Stockholm apartment, was: How can I reconfigure my life in order to live in a place just like this? For us, this was followed by a second, slightly more reasonable thought: We should repaint. It may come as no surprise to learn that Heckscher is an interior architect at Note Design Studio, the Swedish team that’s gained a reputation for perfect color palettes, well-proportioned products, and stunning spaces.

In the summer of 2014, Heckscher began renovating what was essentially a white box, taking an inventive, playful approach, including some input from his six-year-old son, Otis, and four-year-old daughter, India. “This project was like a workshop where I could try out ideas and materials.” In a way, that open, improvisational quality reflects Heckscher’s path as a designer. He didn’t fall into the profession immediately. With a background in economics, there was a time he thought he’d “end up like a Wall Street guy, doing finance. But I stayed clear of that, which in the end, turned out to be a wise choice.” It wasn’t until he was close to 30 that he started studying interior and spatial design formally, first as an undergraduate in Milan before returning to Stockholm and earning his MFA at the prestigious Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Not too long after that, he was creating interiors for clients at Note.

With this space, Heckscher changed what he could while making other constraints work for him. The apartment is in a “quite ugly building from 1988,” he says. “It has this pinkish-orange façade that was very common at the time in Sweden… it’s not the height of Swedish architecture, 1988. I was thinking, how do I deal with this exterior color, because it’s going to be present the whole time in the living room and kitchen area.” He decided to bring it into the design, using a similar shade for those rooms, along with a super-saturated, atmospheric blue he’d used in his previous home. That continuity was important to him. Heckscher moved here after a divorce, “so this was a fresh start,” he says. But along with the new, he wanted to incorporate some familiar elements to provide a sense of security for his kids.

While he tends to resist the more austere side of Swedish design, his sensibility seems distinctly Scandinavian in the way it manages to be comfortable and inviting but still cool and spare. It’s captured beautifully here by photographer Tekla Severin, who is also a Stockholm-based interior architect and the creator of one of our favorite Instagram feeds. When we reached Heckscher recently on the phone to learn more, he was as thoughtful, engaging, and unpretentious as his work would suggest.