Opening a treasure trove of precious found objects may be the literature of fantasies and tall tales but by no means out of the realm of reach. Returning from travels, be it far or close, your luggage is the treasure chest dreams are made of. But what of the pieces too large or plenty to fit into your overhead bag? For creative director Fredrik Carlström, the solution was Austere.
The word “austere”, by definition, delineates an unadorned or simple style: an austere man walks into his atelier. He is refined and handsome. So it’s no surprise that these words can too, describe the eponymous concept store and its endeavor to carve out a Nordic outpost in America.
Taking 4,800-square-feet of an old department-store garage, sitting empty at 9th Avenue and Hill Street in the burgeoning downtown Los Angeles neighbourhood, owner Fredrik Carlström created Austere to bring a little piece of Scandinavia to the West Coast. A place for design and innovation, the cavernous studio and showroom is a platform for fresh brands as well as companies with deep heritage and forward thinking.
Working within the realms of design, fashion, and technology, it conducts itself in tune to a gallery importing Nordic names and European labels for the American market. Items with a timeless aesthetic and of lasting quality are carefully curated with consideration.
Home and kitchen wares are blended among a wardrobe of Stockholm based Our Legacy and Schnayderman. A BIKEID Step-Through bicycle parked inside the mezzanine—it is after all an old garage—next to beauty and scented candles from Bjork & Berries. On view until recently, skirting the merchandise was the Henzel Studio: Collaborations / Heritage exhibit of art rugs. And for the Scandophile Angelinos that seek out the store, classic Danish designer Fritz Hansen and Finnish Artek furniture is strewn out. All of this, an homage to Carlström’s Stockholm upbringing. Products which are ubiquitous there but were severely missed when he moved stateside.
Stepping inside Austere feels as one might expect, a model blend of two worlds. For everything Carlström has brought in, is a piece of insignia of a different sphere. Every one of the tens, if not hundred, examples of Scandinavian design deepens the knowledge of its LA customers of a different way of living. Incorporating beautiful and functional objects into the everyday with more purpose. It is decidedly, the austere way.
Written by Sheila Lam
Photographed by Esther Lee