A sleek home for a dysfunctional family

Charlotte West
Charlotte West - [email protected]

A pretty unconventional family is occupying an appropriately peculiar house in a posh part of Stockholm. Charlotte West has been to snoop around the colourful Casa Cor.


The fictitious assembly of 13 Stockholmers living in a turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau house, designed by Swedish architect Erik Lallerstedt, is not the average Swedish family. Nor is Casa Cor a typical example of minimalist Swedish design.

Casa Cor, which means “house of colours” in Portuguese, is an exhibition concept imported from Brazil, where it was launched in 1987. The venue, known as “T-House,” is open until October 14th, after which the rooms will be dismantled and the objects auctioned off for charity on

The idea is to give visitors the chance to experience the latest and greatest in design and architecture in an authentic home environment. By giving 35 design and architecture teams free rein in decorating one room each in the almost 1,500 square meter space, the exhibition’s curators captured a cross-section of styles, trends and materials – everything from ribbons and ruffles to rippable foam and g-strings.

The theme of the exhibition is “The Passionate Home” and each room reflects the personality of one member a multigenerational family of 13. The menagerie of characters – including both the ex-wife and her younger replacement – smells of dysfunction and the tension is evident in the contrasts between rooms, each of which represents a different family member’s private retreat. Some, such as Henrik Schulz’ “player’s crib,” with its sleek black glass walls and hidden storage, are impressive but cold, while Indori’s high-tech-yet-homey living room invites visitors to plop down on the couch and stay for awhile.

The man’s rock-and-graffiti-inspired garage is fairly underwhelming, filled with miscellaneous tools and tyres, until closer inspection; a red tricycle sitting below a dog-eared Jimi Hendrix calendar speaks to the multiple generations who live there. The current missus’s garage is full of bling and diamonds, and Madonna’s “Material Girl” hums in the background, but the real feat there was getting the Audi A5 in by crane through a hole in the roof of the six-storey building.

It’s Grandpa’s architectural atelier that really captures the essence of the man who works there. Perhaps because it was created by a man who is himself a grandfather of design, Åke Axelsson. He has been a furniture designer for 58 years, with projects including Stockholm Stadsmuseet and the Riksdag under his belt, and the studio features his new range of furniture called “ÅkeA.” You leave with a feeling of centrality of the creative process to this elderly gentleman’s existence.

Grandpa’s studio leads into “The Guest Room for the Bedless,” designed by Emilia Öster, a student at the Swedish University College of Arts Crafts and Design, and Wåhlin architecture firm. A pile of used chairs and other household objects raises questions about the function of a room and ponders the human tendency to accumulate. It not only looks at how the user shapes the space, but also reflects on how the space shapes its user.

The next room, designed by WIS, belongs to the ex-wife. The seventies-inspired blue-and-white décor reflects a blend between her previous married life with her new life as a single, independent woman. Lots of baubles and bling, but it’s clear she’s from a different generation to the new lady of the house, and is trying to reinvent herself.

Upstairs, you’ll find the children’s playroom, the breakfast nook, the wine room and the teenagers’ room. The mainstay of the latter is Narrativ’s RIP OFF furniture, biodegradable foam blocks covered in a cut away dotted pattern of varying shapes and sizes to allow the user to create his or her own furniture ranging from couches to bookcases.

But perhaps the most memorable space was the tropical solarium, designed by Brazilian architect Jordão e Sobrino. “This is definitely not Swedish!” exclaimed one visitor when he entered the room. Pink and gaudy with sand-cover floors, the solarium’s focal points are various metallic interpretations of the female form, complete with diamond nipples. Chaise longues resembling a reclining woman, wearing nothing but a tiger-print g-string, invite visitors to rest their heads between her legs.

The assortment of fictive characters living at Casa Cor is certainly a long way off from the Johanssons, the “typical” Swedish nuclear family composed of mamma, pappa and two children. They have provided playful and colorful inspiration for some of Sweden’s leading designers and architects in their creation of an unusual exhibition space. While the lack of continuity between the rooms sometimes makes the experience disjointed for the visitor, the personalities of the family members are captured in the individual rooms. You will leave both amused, and with a few new ideas for your own home.

The Casa Cor exhibition runs from Sept 1-Oct 14 at T-House at Engelbrektsplan 1 in Stockholm. Opening hours: Tues-Wed 11-19, Thurs-Fri 11-20, Sat-Sun 11-19, Closed Mon. Admission: Adults 150 kronor, Pensioners and students 50 kronor. The objects from the exhibition will be auctioned off on Bidster and proceeds will go to the Childhood Foundation charity.

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