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Where to shop, eat, and drink when you visit Gothenburg

Gothenburg is Sweden’s hidden design gem, with some of the best shopping available – plus dozens of hip cafés, restaurants, and bars. Local creative Ali Davoodi shares his insider tips for how to get the most out of a visit.

Where to shop, eat, and drink when you visit Gothenburg
Artilleriet at Magasinsgatan in Gothenburg is top interior design shop. Photo: Kim Svensson/Göteborg & Co

Stockholm may be Sweden’s bustling capital, while Malmö is the country’s diverse and delightful food hub. But what about Sweden’s second-largest city – Gothenburg?

“Gothenburg is less showy,” admits Ali Davoodi, who grew up in Gothenburg and now owns a design shop there.

 

A post shared by Ali رضا Davoodi (@alidavoodi) on Jul 2, 2015 at 8:44am PDT

“It’s less about image. Stockholm brands are great at PR, whereas people might not know about all the brands that come from Gothenburg – and yet they’re thriving.”

Gothenburg is bursting with Sweden’s best-kept design secrets… and Ali has his thumb on the pulse of the city’s creative community.

He's the founder of Fresh Fish, an annual fashion fair and contest that puts the spotlight on upcoming Swedish designers. He's co-owner of Miksaĵo, a little design shop that packs a punch with its blend of Swedish and international design. And he's the brains behind ArtMadeThis, an urban art project which gave female artists the chance to paint on buildings in Sweden's four largest cities. 

Inside Ali Davoodi's Miksaĵo design shop. Photo: Miksaĵo

So where does he hang out – and what places should be at the top of your list when you visit “Sweden’s coolest city”?

Shopping

Compared to the glitzy, bloated Grand Old Brands of French and Italian design, Swedish design is a lean, clean creative machine. Its profile may be more understated, but Swedish design is slowly but surely taking over the world.

Have you noticed how Fjällräven backpacks have suddenly appeared on the backs of hipsters all over the world? Or how everyone on Instagram is sporting Daniel Wellington watches, Tom Hope bracelets, and phone cases from Ideal of Sweden or Richmond & Finch?

Yeah, they’re all Swedish.

“Swedish design is about being nice without shouting,” Ali explains. “It’s a whisper, not a scream. It’s calm, almost melancholic – and it’s also practical.”

And Gothenburg has more than its fair share of this laid-back, open-minded creativity.

“Nudie Jeans, Twist & Tango, shoe brand Axel Arigato, Velour, Maska, Bow Club…”

For many Gothenburg brands, Ali jokes, the only people who know they’re from the city are the residents themselves. But the quality speaks for itself.

Dr Denim is doing very exciting things right now,” Ali adds. “Their products are amazing. Axel Arigato is a rising star in the sneaker world – they sell more on the web, but they’re designed here.”

 

A post shared by Dr. Denim OFFICIAL (@drdenim) on Jun 16, 2017 at 5:33am PDT

Ali describes his own shop, Miksaĵo, as an eclectic mix of “unestablished Swedish brands and big international names”.

“I also recommend Linnégatan 2 – the shop that that shows the modern man the importance of quality,” he says.

Östling Schedin is an interior design shop with a unique hand-picked selection in a fantastic environment – and Artilleriet has very quickly become a given destination for anyone who loves interior design.”

Norrgavel for unique, handpicked and sustainable furniture, or Bebop Antik in the Haga neighbourhood, specialising in 20th century Scandinavian design.

And don't forget to pay a visit to Emma & Malena, for gorgeous Swedish clothing inspired by the Gothenburg archipelago and the fantastic ‘50s!

 

A post shared by emma och malena (@emmaochmalena) on May 26, 2017 at 2:18am PDT

Dining

But after you’ve shopped ‘til you’ve dropped in the lighthearted city by the sea, where do you recharge?

Fatima is my favourite Moroccan restaurant,” Ali says. ”It offers warm Moroccan food in an inviting, cosy little living room. There’s a lot of love in the food, even though it’s simple.”

Besides offering plenty of local delicacies like seafood and traditional Swedish fare, Gothenburg also has a budding food truck scene, and one of the first you should try out is Jinx, which sells Asian fusion food with flair – or, as the chefs themselves call it, “bastardized Asian street food with influences from the whole world”.

Little Meats is another local favourite, full of equal parts love and spice,” Ali says. The South American restaurant is known in Göteborg for its “luxurious tacos”, organic tortillas, homemade lemonade, and touch of “magic” – no seriously, it’s a word that pops up in quite a few reviews.

And if it’s time for a drink to wash it all down, there are plenty of bars which will welcome the curious visitor.

“The best bar in my opinion is probably Studio HPKSM,” says Ali. “It’s an incredible place – an experience unlike anything else, from the service to the environment.”

 

A post shared by StudioHPKSM (@studiohpksm) on Mar 6, 2017 at 11:10pm PST

He also recommends Aperitivo, a popular coffee bar which transforms into Bar Centro at night. “They have fantastic coffee too – but when night comes they show they’re more than that!”

Where to hang out

There are plenty of other great spots to get a taste of creative Gothenburg – but we asked Ali just to give us the highlights from each area. So if you’re visiting for a few days or more, here are a few others to add to your list…

”You’ve got to visit a gallery. Galleri Thomasen and Galleri Box are simply magical, and really put thought into their exhibits,” Ali says.

Need a place to have a quick meeting or get some work done?

Tony’s Coffee Bar, Bar Centro, and Gridelli all have great character. These are truly inspiring places you can sit all day,” says Ali. “Another great meeting spot is Hotel Flora – and Hotel Dorsia.”

Inside the Hotel Dorsia – one of Ali's favaourite Gothenburg hangouts. Photo: Hotel Dorsia

And finally – don’t miss the incredible islands of Gothenburg’s archipelago. It has its own unique character, with a much different atmosphere than that of Stockholm.

Taking a dip on Amundön. Photo: Steampipe Production Studio AB/Göteborg & Co Fri användarrätt av GBG&Co

”I especially recommend the islands of Amundön and Brännö,” Ali says. “You just have to experience them – no words can do them justice.”

Read also: The Stockholm design hot-spots you have to see

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Visit Sweden.

FASHION

Danish designer joins Paris fashion elite a year after getting the sack

It was the fairytale ending to a fortnight of Paris fashion shows. A year ago Danish designer Christine Hyun Mi Nielsen was fired from her high-pressure job as the director of the studio of one of the world's top brands.

Danish designer joins Paris fashion elite a year after getting the sack
South-Korean-born Danish fashion designer Christine Hyun Mi Nielsen poses after her 2017 spring/summer Haute Couture collection on Thursday in Paris. Photo: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/SCANPIX
Fourteen months on she has her own label — Hyun Mi Nielsen — with a show on the haute couture catwalk Thursday, the very pinnacle of the fashion tree.
 
The creator, who was born in Korea and adopted by a Danish couple, said her first solo Paris collection wasn't just about climbing the career ladder, it was also deeply “personal”.
 
“It was a way to find myself after I was dismissed from my job,” she told AFP. “For someone like me who puts so much effort into my work which I love so much, it was so painful.”
 
“This is about finding my own voice to get over the grief,” said the 40-year-old, who had led the Givenchy studio and Alexander McQueen womenswear before being sacked from Balenciaga last October after the arrival of Vetements wunderkind Demna Gvasalia.
 
Punk princesses
All her models wore army-surplus boots — punk princesses off to a ball — with the collection kicked off by a spectacular figure-hugging white dress with intricate frills of organza on tulle.
 
She also put a ruff of starched frills on an eye-catching three-piece leather biker outfit — and cut a long back leather dress as if it had been frilly tulle.
 
The contrasts of hard and soft, darkness and light, frivolous and serious clearly a metaphor of what Nielsen has been through. One model even had a thunderously blacked-up face.
 
Nielsen was helped to set up on her own in Paris by a “subtle and sophisticated” female investor, she said, but did not name her.
 
Haute couture is a purely Parisian institution limited to 15 labels, and the designer said she was thrilled to have been invited as a guest member into its elite ranks.
 
All clothes have to be made to measure by hand, meaning couture can usually only be afforded by the richest women.
 
“My love of fashion is not just the (visual) image but also the technique and the craft,” Nielsen said.
 
“So it's especially exciting for me to start my own company in France — this is the home of (fashion) savoir faire (know-how).”
 
The Dane began her rise at Max Mara in Italy before returning to London, where she studied at the Royal College of Art, to join Burberry before she moved on to McQueen, whose edgy poetry she has clearly inherited.
 
The Dutch-Vietnamese designer Xuan-Thu Nguyen also made her Paris couture debut Thursday as nearly two weeks of menswear and couture shows drew to a close.
 
Her Xuan label, which she founded 12 years ago, is best known for its “surprise and fragility” and her spring summer collection had avalanches of frills on otherwise plain and pure pale pastel mousseline and tulle outfits.
 
By AFP's Anna Pelegri and Fiachra Gibbons