London has Soho, New York City has SoHo, and Stockholm has SoFo -- or South of Folkungagatan in non-abbreviated form. Once a blue-collar neighborhood, now a center for clothing boutiques, design stores, and cafes, SoFo is where the pretty people hang (and where cover star Alexander Skarsgård grew up). Celebrated Swedish labels like Acne and Cheap Monday have outlets here, but more interesting are the independent stores. We took an afternoon to explore what the area has to offer. Here are some of our favorite discoveries.
FLUXSHOP Tjärhovsgatan 14
This art gallery/store is part tribute to George Maciunas?s playful Fluxus art movement of the 1960s and ?70s, part pop-up store. Among other activities, the collective behind it stages elaborate dinner parties, inviting 12 random and unconnected people to eat dinner and discuss only subjects they have nominated in advance. Each guest must also suggest one ingredient, from which the menu is composed. ?If everyone chooses carrots, then it?s a carrot feast,? explains member Fredrik Kihlberg. When we visited in June, the featured brand was Swedish design label, 5Preview; a month earlier, the store showcased Finnish designer bikes from Helsinki; and for the following month, Kihlberg was planning to turn the space into a ?hard-core tea salon.? What?s hard-core about tea? ?Baking scones,? replied Kihlberg, unironically.
PIT STOP Åsögatan 136
The shop houses a small, well-curated collection of menswear, including Spalwart, a Swedish footwear label that uses 1950s molds and machinery from Eastern Europe to give their sneakers appealing imperfections.
AN IDEAL FOR LIVING Södermannagatan 19
It holds a fantastic collection of old vinyl records, heavy on new wave and post-punk. Also, find classic Swedish tableware from the 1940s and ?50s such as Rörstrand?s colorful Picknick range, designed by Marianne Westman (and recently revived by British design firm New House Textiles).
TALENT GALLERY Kocksgatan 23
Inspired by New York City, where she studied graphic design at Parsons, Sara Rosenquist opened her print shop and gallery in 2010, a rare showcase for some of Europe?s most interesting graphic artists, including Sweden?s Olle Eksell and London-based Lilit Asiryan. It?s also a great place to find unique cards and posters.
GRANDPA Södermannagatan 21
Opened in 2003, this SoFo stalwart displays work from Scandinavian designers, including Swedish collective Uniforms for the Dedicated and Denmark?s Norse Projects.