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The Box in the Mountains

Hiking through the Dovrefjell Mountains, there is a chance that you will encounter a large box of steel and glass placed all by itself in the mountainside. It might seem a little misplaced at first. You may ask yourself why this steel box is placed in the middle of nowhere, but upon entering you instantly understand why it is there. The box is Viewpoint Snøhetta, a visitor centre featuring an impressive panoramic view of the Snøhetta mountain and the Dovrefjell National Park.

  Viewpoint Snøhetta was awarded the World Building of the Year Award in the Visitor Centre Category at the World Architecture Festival 2011.
Viewpoint Snøhetta was awarded the World Building of the Year Award in the Visitor Centre Category at the World Architecture Festival 2011.

Clean Design

The viewpoint features neither signs nor information about the building and the area. The architects decided that the spectacular view and architecture would be a sanctuary from everyday stress. Rather than a distraction, this is a place for peace and contemplation. A room for new thoughts. 

Thoughtful Design

The raw steel construction is no coincidence. It is a reference to the mining industry in the area, as well as a symbol of the mountain’s bedrock and the metals beneath the surface. As well as being a symbol, the metal is also chosen for the natural conditions of the mountains. Viewpoint Snøhetta is facing extreme weather conditions all year around. This is a majestical building built to withstand strong winds and snowstorms, but also hot and sunny days.

 The viewpoint is closed during the winter, but during the summer Viewpoint Snøhetta is open for visitors around the clock.
The viewpoint is closed during the winter season, but in the Summer Viewpoint Snøhetta is open for visitors around the clock.

A Boatbuilder’s Work

The viewpoint’s wooden core is designed to create a warm and welcoming seating area where visitors can admire the view for hours. Shaped like a rock eroded by wind and water, the core is a soft contrast to the rigid outer shell. The wooden construction is built by wooden boat builders in Norheimsund. Constructed with neither a single screw nor a drop of glue the structure is purely timber held together by wooden plugs.

“The interior’s shape creates a protected and warm gathering place, while still preserving visitor’s access to spectacular views.”

Snøhetta Design Office

Want to read more about unique Scandinavian architecture? Then we highly recommend our story on Fuglemyrhytta and the Normarka wilderness area in our post, Exploring the Oslo Wilderness. We also suggest following our Instagram profile @nuetaquavit to get instant updates on new blog posts straight to your feed.

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Resurgence of The Sámi Handicraft

Due to the industrialisation and modernization of society, many of these old crafts almost died out. Even though this hasn’t been a thriving industry for long there are still enthusiasts keeping the craft alive, and there is an increasing interest in the handicraft.

The Sámi people are an indigenous people inhabiting Sápmi, a large region encompassing large parts of northern Norway, Sweden and Finland, as well as a small part of Russia. The Sámis are mostly known for reindeer herding, music and food, as well as their traditional Sámi handicraft, duodji.

A new interest

In the past few years, the interest in Sámi culture has exploded. Sámi singers and artists have gained a lot of media attention and this has made people more engaged in the culture. As late as the ’60s Norway had strict policies suppressing and norwegianizing the Sámi people. As a result of these policies, many Sámis were forced to abandon their culture and language, and within a few generations many families with Sámi heritage had lost most or even all of the Sámi culture.
All the Sámi media attention in recent years have made people more interested in the traditional Sámi way of living. Youth with Sámi heritage want to learn about their culture, and many have started learning the language, wearing Sámi clothing and doing Sámi handicrafts.

Today the demand for the craft is high enough for people to earn a living producing it. One of the people dedicated to this craft is Hilde Lund from Nordreisa in Northern Norway. She is what’s called a duodjar, a professional duodji artist. For almost 25 years Hilde has been working with the craft, making traditional Sámi clothing, jewellery and accessories. Although there is enough demand to make a living, this is yet to be a trade for people that want to become rich.

“It doesn’t make me rich on money, but I get quite rich on creativity”

Hilde Lund
The Sámi handicraft, duodji is a reuccoring trend in Norwegian fashion.

Exclusive customers

Norwegians aren’t the only ones interested in the craft. Once Hilde had a visit by a Qatari royal family on holiday in Northern Norway. They were interested in buying gloves and hats made of reindeer leather and fox fur. Usually, she spends around a month making such a large order, but this time she had two weeks on completing the products for the royal family. It required a lot of hard work and ate a lot of free time, but she managed to finish it and the family was really satisfied with the result. In addition to the Qatari royals, Hilde has had visits from the Norwegian queen. The queen has an interest in Sámi handicraft and she’s visited her several times during the last decade.

“It was absolutely a unique experience to suddenly have a royal family ordering my craft”

Hilde Lund
Some people practicing doudji use fish skin in their Sámi handicraft.

Unconventional materials

Following hundreds of years of old traditions, many craftsmen make their craft almost exclusively with local natural resources. Before the mass-industrialization surrounding the second world war, the arctic people mostly made their own clothes from local resources. Wool from sheep and goats, leather from cows and pelt of reindeer were common materials. In coastal areas where households had access to little to no livestock many used fish skin for clothing and apparel. The fish was skinned, the meat cooked, and the skin was dried and processed to make boots, hats and gloves.

Less than a century ago, this was still used actively by arctic people. The fish skin was mostly used by working-class people that could not afford more expensive fabrics and material. It is quite interesting that the material historically used in a poor man’s clothing is now a growing exclusive trend.

No-waste production

As a result of people’s poor economy in the early 1900s, no materials could be wasted. Everything had to be used. A fish wasn’t just for food. Everything had its purpose. Hilde believes in the traditional no-waste philosophy. On the side of her handicraft, she works with catering, making food for events and gatherings. The meat is used for meals, the skin for jewellery and the bones for decorations.

Crafts dependent on natural resources often rely on season and weather. The process of gathering the materials to a purse may take as long as a year. Cod skin and reindeer pelt are acquired during the winter, goat willow bark is collected in the spring and salmon skin is a summertime resource. This is definitively a long and time-consuming process, but the quality and authenticity of the craft are worth it.

Hilde Lund is one of the women working with Sámi Handicraft, duodji.

Keeping the craft alive

Today Hilde arranges courses teaching people duodji. Enthusiasts and other interested individuals from all over the region attend her courses to learn about and practise duodji. She’s happy to see that it is such interest in the craft and that it will live on for the foreseeable future.

“It is always a pleasure doing these courses. It’s so fun meeting and teaching people interested in the craft.”

Hilde Lund

In later blog posts, we’ll come back to and learn more about Sámi handicraft and culture. We at Nuet publish weekly posts about Scandinavian culture. Follow us at @nuetaquavit for instant updates in your feed, and check out our other posts at

Sámi handicraft

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Contemporary Scandinavian Design with a classic look

Right next to one of Norway’s prize-winning pride examples of Norwegian architecture – the Norwegian Opera House in Oslo – you find another piece of art. The restaurant Edda in downtown Oslo is surrounded by architectural masterpieces, and the restaurant itself is no different from the surrounding neighbours.

The Norwegian Opera House
The Norwegian Opera House in Oslo is one of Norway’s most prestigious architectural masterpieces.

Designing an Experience

Although taste is key when it comes to food, the whole dining experience is equally important for a restaurant visit. The interior, atmosphere, noise, temperature and staff may be a dealbreaker for some, and it needs to have high standards to keep visitors returning. It doesn’t matter how good your food is if a negative atmosphere overshadows the exceptional taste of the food being served. This is definitely not an issue at Edda, with their stunning design and inviting atmosphere. Large windows let in lots of light during the daytime, and warm lighting around the restaurant makes for a cozy feel in the evenings.

The grandma pattern

You clearly see hints of Norwegian design around the restaurant. The sofas are covered in a flower pattern inspired by older Norwegian furniture design, predating this millennium. By some, this design is called “The Grandma Pattern” because of its widespread use in the homes of the grandparent generation. It is quite recognizable for most Norwegians, thus giving it a friendly and welcoming feel. This truely reflects classic Scandinavian design.

“The Grandma Pattern” is one of the most distinct Norwegian design features.

Maritime inspiration

Norway has a strong maritime tradition through oil and fishing. Fishing has been a part of Norwegian culture throughout our whole history, and you clearly see that the designers kept this in mind. The ocean blue chairs and the wooden, fish patterned accent design really emphasizes this naval culture. It certainly compliments the Lofoten cod and the Norwegian mackerel on the menu.

Poetic design

Looking at Edda’s bar, you instantly notice the wooden staves suspended in the air above. The staves are placed in a wavy pattern, mimicking the shape of the aurora borealis, the northern lights. This makes for a quite poetic experience when served reindeer that has roamed the Finnmarksvidda plateau under this exact natural phenomenon.

All these design features make for a comprehensive dining experience. The food and the classic Scandinavian design complete each other in a beautiful and artistic way. There is no doubt this is one of the finest restaurants in Scandinavia.

A restaurant is, of course, nothing without its food and therefore Edda has developed a unique menu focusing on Norwegian raw materials. With the use of arctic reindeer, cod from Lofoten and brown cheese, Edda is a well known gourmet restaurant. If you want to read more about Edda’s menu, check out our blog post about their reindeer dishes here. We post weekly articles about Scandinavian culture, food and design here at Nuet. Follow us at @nuetaquavit to see our newest updates in your feed! 

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Sweden’s Last Wooden Boat Builders

Entering the door you instantly feel the workshop vibe. You hear machinery in the background, see stacks of planks and other materials, and smell the odour of woodwork. A tall, bearded man in an orange sweater and black work trousers welcomes us. That man is Mattias Malmros, a Swedish boat builder and renovator. For two decades Mattias has been working with Swedish wooden boats. And for the last ten years, he’s been doing it with his friends in their workshop at Nya Djurgårdsvarvet in Stockholm. Båthandtverkarna, as they’re called do mostly renovation of old wooden boats. From time to time they make a few new ones from scratch as well.

Declining Demand

A century ago, this trade was thriving with demand. The Swedes were passionate about the craftsmanship, and the Baltic Sea was filled with wooden boats in all their splendour. But in the 1960s the availability of plastics advanced the boat building industry into a whole new direction, leaving the proud craft of wooden boat building behind. Plastics were way cheaper, easier to mass-produce and maintain. Therefore the requests for new wooden boats quickly diminished. And today the demand is at an all-time low. Most of the work being done today is the renovation of older boats from the mid-20th century.

“There isn’t quite enough demand to do this full-time, so we also do other crafts on the side, like making windows and other wooden products.”

Spare Time Well Spent

Most of Mattias’ time in the workshop goes to renovations and other projects for customers, and you may think that after a long day at work Mattias is tired of all the woodworking. If you think so you’re mistaken. On the second floor of the workshop, Mattias is using his spare time on his passion project; his own wooden racing sailboat. For four years he has spent his evenings, nights and weekends on the second floor, working tirelessly on this stunning design.

Mattias Malmros is a Swedish boat builder that builds wooden boats.

Devoted to traditional craftsmanship, the boat’s outer structure consists only of mahogany, in stark contrast to modern plastic boats. Mattias and his work partner already have a 9,5-metre sailboat of the same class and design from 1925, but in sports sailing size matters. The smaller boat is too light to reach the speed a boat in its class should be able to. The only solution was to make a new one. It takes time, but when the new boat is done, it’ll be worth both the work and the wait.

Whilst the profession of wooden boat building may be facing challenges, the passion for the craft lives on.

“I say that the boat will be done by next summer, but that I’ve said for
the last couple years, and I’ll probably say that for a few more.”

Interested in more stories about Scandinavian naval tradition? We’ll look into Swedish, Norwegian and Danish naval experiences in later blog posts!
Follow us at @nuetaquavit to get the latest updates on our blog! And if you want to read about our other topics, check them out here!