Stockholm design district: SoFo no good?

Stockholm design district: SoFo no good?
In the first of a series of regular columns, David Bartal searches high and low for Stockholm's design district. Eventually he finds it -- in Finland.

London has one, as does Miami and Milan. Even Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — best known for its steelmaking — is host to a specific zone which has been officially designated as Pittsburgh’s design district.

Sweden’s largest city, which bills itself worldwide as the “Capital of Scandinavia” (much to the annoyance of the Danes), must surely also have a special design district. But where is it exactly?

The Stockholm Design District is located –- at least according to the Internet– on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, in Finland.

That’s the conclusion one is forced to draw if you do a search for the Stockholm Design District on the Google search engine.

Design District Helsinki, which exists on the Internet and in the real world, consists of 25 specific streets and 170 spots on a map, where design and fashion shops, art galleries, design studios and design hotels are all concentrated.

The situation is not as crystal clear in the Swedish capital, where there is no officially designated design district.

Many would argue that Stockholm’s design district is in SoFo, that is to say, on the streets south of Folkungagatan (hence SoFo) and east of Götgatan on Södermalm. This is a young and hip area, with many cool independent fashion and design stores, cosy cafes where one can laze about all afternoon, and good record stores.

Many people who live in this trendy neighborhood aren’t thrilled with the “SoFo” designation. Therefore, it’s hard to imagine they would be happy to see their home turf labeled as the official design district.

The ambivalent feeling people living on the south side of town have to the SoFo idea is reflected in a newspaper story titled “Sofo- the name everyone loves to hate,” which recently ran in the local weekly, Södermalmsnytt.

Several residents consulted by the paper feel that the SoFo name is just silly, while others blame it for driving up the price of real estate.

Next week: Why I ended my love affair with a dental technician.