Today I want to share my discoveries from the remaining leg of my trip to Skåne with Visit Sweden and Visit Skåne. As well as Malmö and the Wanås Estate, our stay in this beautiful region of southern Sweden took in the pretty little city of Lund and a couple of gems further afield…
Our base for this part of the journey was Sweden’s second-oldest city, which is home to a renowned university, a lively arts scene and a peaceful old town. We spent a lovely couple of hours wandering its cobbled lanes, admiring cottages painted in ochre yellow and blush pink, and gazing up at brick townhouses covered in flame-red creepers.
We stayed at the century-old Grand Hotel, an imposing sandstone affair that looks like something from a Baz Lhurmann movie. It was a bit of a departure from the minimalist places that I normally opt for, but I secretly enjoyed swanning up and down sweeping staircases and dining beneath dripping glass chandeliers. What’s more, the food was delicious – a creamy artichoke soup with soya and almonds, roasted duck, and a zingy sea-buckthorn sorbet with frozen chocolate and crisp honeycomb.
The Grand Hotel, Bantorget 1, 222 29 Lund
Located in the heart of Lund, this museum was one of the highlights of the trip. Its full name, ‘The Museum of Artistic Process and Public Art’, may sound a little dull, but trust me: it’s well worth a visit. It features the world’s largest collection of sketches and preparatory work for international public art, including drawings and models by the likes of Henri Matisse, Henry Moore and Diego Rivera, as well as Swedish artists such as Sigrid Hjertén and Isaac Grünewald. They provide a fascinating insight into the creative process, and I loved getting a glimpse into the evolution of world-famous pieces. There’s also a programme of temporary installations, and our visit coincided with the first-ever Scandinavian exhibition by British artist Andy Goldsworthy.
Just as striking as the artwork on display is the architecture. Recently extended by Stockholm duo Elding Oscarson, the building features a weathered steel façade, a double-height entrance lobby punctuated by square windows, and a covered central courtyard with a soaring mural by American artist Swoon. There’s also a fantastic restaurant, which is about as far removed from the normal canteen-style museum café as you can get. The menu focuses on seasonal Scandinavian flavours, and the minimalist décor – plywood walls, contemporary oil lamps, tan leather chairs – is stunning.
Skissernas Museum, Finngatan 2, 223 62 Lund
Zimmerdahl Antiques & Design
Specialising in modern antiques from 1925 to 1975, this little shop is a treasure trove of design classics. We spent an hour browsing its extensive collection over coffee and cardamom buns, admiring everything from vintage glassware to sleek Art Deco jewellery. I was instantly smitten with the Scandinavian mid-century furniture, and somehow managed to resist the temptation to blow my entire savings on an original Gubi ‘Grasshopper’ lamp and a Hans J. Wegner ‘Wishbone’ chair.
Zimmerdahl Antiques & Design, Kraftstorg 2, 223 50 Lund
Lund Botanical Garden
This sprawling garden is home to more than 7,000 species of plant, and its shaded lawns and meandering pathways were showered with golden leaves during our October visit. My favourite bits were the glasshouses, which house tropical vines, twisted palm trees, delicately scented orange blossom and ponds dotted with giant lily pads. We even spied tiny white birds pottering around the roots to keep insects at bay.
Botaniska Trädgården, Östra Vallgatan, 223 61 Lund
Located in former factory buildings donated by ceramics manufacturer Ifö (who made the stylish bathroom suites found at Wanås), this cultural centre in the town of Bromölla is a wonderful example of how disused spaces can be opened up to the local community. The project was kick-started by artist Teresa Holmberg, who visited Ifö in 2011 to begin a design collaboration with the company. She discovered several empty floors and joined up with management to turn them into workshops for creatives. As well as studio spaces, the centre now encompasses exhibition halls, a brand-new sports’ venue and facilities for craft courses. There’s even an artist-in-residence programme, which sees international names invited to the site to create outdoor murals – my favourite was a giant dinosaur skeleton, painted by Belgian street artist ROA and inspired by Bromölla’s location on a fossil-filled lake.
Ifö Center, Fågel Fenix Väg 12, 295 31 Bromölla
Set deep in the Skåne countryside, this huge quarry – once the world’s biggest – provided the sought-after black diabase granite used for buildings and statues around the world, including the Empire State Building in New York. Operational from 1899 to 1901, it’s now a lake which can you float around by raft. It’s a beautiful if slightly haunting sight, with ramshackle old workers’ huts dotting the shore and water so deep and mirror-still that it looks almost black. The name ‘Svarta Bergen’ translates as ‘Black Mountains’ and refers to the spoil heaps dotted around the site; there are also sculptures made from the rock, many of them created by well-known artists from all over the world for a special exhibition in 1974. I was intrigued to find several pieces by Japanese sculptors, among them Masaru Takahashi’s striking ‘Suitcase’, perched atop a hill with sweeping views over the surrounding forest.
Svarta Bergen, Tranebodavägen 1, 280 70 Lönsboda
I visited Sweden as part of a hosted tour with Visit Sweden and Visit Skåne, but all words and opinions are my own. Huge thanks to both for an excellent trip!
All photography by Abi Dare