Elegance underpins award-winning Swedish designer Joanna Laven’s residential projects. Typifying time-honoured Nordic design, Joanna Laven’s approach to interiors lends itself particularly well to heritage homes and the kitchens within them. In this feature, we asked Joanna about her bespoke approach to kitchen design and why she never thinks twice about specifying natural materials, top-tier kitchen appliances and vintage objects.
At the heart of Stockholm-based Joanna Laven’s residential design portfolio is a sense of balance and timelessness – qualities she sites as hallmarks in her work.
Joanna describes interior design as being about a ‘fingertip feeling’; an understanding of what a client wants and being intuitive to this, without losing ‘your style compass’. True to the designer’s vision are her custom kitchens. Concentrating on this central hub of the home, we spoke with Joanna about her appreciation for antique objects, the need for a proper kitchen working bench and why appliances should be visible – in what she calls, ‘the jewels of the kitchen’.
Produced in partnership with La Cornue
Joanna designs projects both in Sweden and further abroad, reflected in her sources of inspiration. “My inspiration, like my projects, is international… and I like to travel to gather ideas and impressions,” she says. “It is true that, unlike many other Swedish interior designers, I am less ‘Scandinavian blonde’ and I have a preference for cozy environments with luxurious materials,” she adds.
When first briefed on a project, Joanna closely traces the style and history of a building, observing how a location interacts with the design. She looks for an equal balance of contrast and harmony in a building’s relationship with its context, but will always seek to preserve a home’s ‘beautiful details’.
The designer is partial to vintage objects; a desire that stems from her interest in design history and the unique story behind a pre-loved object. “Every object is carefully selected and there is a mix between bespoke, contemporary design and vintage,” Joanna says. “All of our interiors are created to reflect the building they are in and the clients’ personality,”she adds.
Natural materials make their way into Joanna Laven’s projects, mostly heritage apartments, in the form of wood and stone. “Stone for practical reasons as well as the function; a stone bench is perfect for baking for example because of its smooth surface,” Joanna says. The designer specifies wood in her projects to add warmth and an inviting softness to any space. When looking specifically at the kitchen, Joanna seeks to create a classical kitchen through hand-painted cabinets, letting the texture of the brushstrokes contribute to the story of artisanal intervention in Joanna’s projects.
“All elements that are in the kitchen must be there for a reason. We believe that functionality is just as important as aesthetics when designing a kitchen.”
– designer Joanna Laven
When designing a kitchen – whatever the size constraints may be – Joanna Laven maintains a proper working bench is essential. “Sometimes I see kitchen benches that are divided, by appliances and sinks into many small pieces; you should have at least one place with a longer piece of bench to be able to use the kitchen properly,” she attests.
Joanna is firm on all of the elements in the kitchen being there for a reason; functionality going hand-in-hand with aesthetics. Lighting is also an important consideration in Joanna’s projects – both working light and decorative light. She is quick to point out the value in a beautiful chandelier or wall sconce in the kitchen.
For Joanna, a poor quality cooker or kitchen tap affects the entire kitchen. That’s why she says she invests in top-tier fixtures and appliances that are always on display. “My recommendation is that you should invest in the visible appliances and save on things that you can hide behind a cabinet door; the visible details should be like the jewels of the kitchen,” she says. It’s a sentiment that has lead Joanna to specify La Cornue range cookers in a number of her projects. The French appliance brand known for its craftsmanship and heritage becomes a focal point in the kitchen while vowing culinary expertise.
Just like in Joanna Laven’s most recent project Apartment O, the Cornufe 110 is part of a smaller format series of freestanding models recently launched by La Cornue, including a central burner and two independent ovens. Smaller again, the Albertine 90 range cooker named after La Cornue’s founder Albert Dupuy and his wife Alexandrine, offers the same signature design and cooking performance with one oven cavity. While both comparatively petite in size, these luxurious range cookers exemplify the same passion for French heritage, culinary excellence and technological innovation.
Bespoke design, according to Joanna Laven, is what brings out the best in a space – ensuring the design is unique, down to the tap, the vintage light fitting, the kitchen hardware – and the range cooker that takes pride of place in her classically Swedish kitchens.
“My recommendation is that you should invest in the visible appliances and save on things that you can hide behind a cabinet door. The visible details should be like the jewels of the kitchen.”
– Joanna Laven