Stockholm gallery makes art of al fresco dining

After mustering the courage to venture out of Stockholm's inner city, Emy Gelb found Färgfabriken's new eco-inspired artsy outside space, complete with super plant-infused drinks, well worth the trip.

Stockholm gallery makes art of al fresco dining
Photo: Emy Gelb

On a sun-soaked evening in Stockholm, an attractive group of young, creative types gathered to celebrate the opening of Färgfabriken’s newest art installation – an environmentally inspired outdoor space that will feature music, food, and drinks every Wednesday throughout the summer.

Färgfabriken has in its relatively short life established itself as something of a cultural gem; it is a gallery founded upon creativity and cooperation. Their mission is to bring people together over contemporary art in an unexpected and unique space. The gallery, which also doubles as a café, nightclub, and bar, has been praised by international sources like New York’s respected art journal Art Forum for its cutting edge exhibitions.

On the surface, Färgfabriken is nothing spectacular and is nestled slightly off the beaten path in a city which is very concentrated, at least when it comes to culture and the arts. Despite being in a gritty part of Liljeholmen and hidden behind chain iron fences and old warehouses marked by graffiti and broken glass, visitors will find the trip over the bridge from the island of Södermalm well worth their while.

The location is in fact part of the gallery’s unique appeal.

“What I think is the most exciting is that it’s hard to get to, it takes a little ambition to come here,” Love Lagerberg, who helped to organize Wednesday’s event, told The Local. “You need to know that something is happening, you have to want to go. I think that lets the guests have more fun.”

Wednesday’s inauguration was no exception. The new patio was packed with people cheerfully sipping a cool beer and admiring the art on show. Michel Bussien designed the wooden furniture that fills the space with the feel of a fairy-tale forest.

“It feels wonderful, really great that people are truly using my work,” he told The Local as he relaxed at one of his tables, enjoying the golden rays and bright indie beats.

Tasty, fresh drinks were being made with Azolla, the super plant that was being grown on the patio as a part Erik Sjödin’s Super Meal experiment. Sjödin and the crew at the Färgfabriken café plan to use Azolla, an extremely sustainable and fast-growing plant, to create new recipes for the café and bar to serve throughout the summer.

As the sun set lower, the music pumped louder. Some danced. Others sat, relaxing and catching up with friends.

“We are having a great time tonight, we are going to try this Azolla stuff in the drinks too,” Jobe Bail, an Australian who has lived in Sweden for three years, told The Local. “I think that this is one of the best alternative galleries and places to have a drink. There is a really good vibe.”

A good vibe and great art seems to be the general consensus at Färgfabriken. Other guests described it as being “chill,” “a ton of fun” and “worth the trip.”

The patio area will be open every Wednesday from 7pm to 2am. Each week, a different nightclub will host the party, featuring an array of different local bands and DJs.

Artsy patio installation and super plant drinks aside, the gallery is also currently showing Building Blocks, a light-hearted and playful architecture exhibit. If you can’t make it during the week, check out the show during the weekend and enjoy the all you can eat pancake brunch.

Färgfabriken can be reached by metro or bus to Liljeholmen and a short walk from there down the hill to the left.

Emy Gelb

View The Local’s Färgfabriken gallery here.

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‘Don’t wear bright colours’: Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Swedes have an international reputation for dressing well, with Scandi style a popular trend outside Sweden. The Local asked Swedes and foreigners living in Sweden to try and figure out the best tips and tricks for how to dress like a Swede.

'Don't wear bright colours': Eight tips on how to dress like a Swede

Black is best

When asking several Swedes their top-tips on how to dress like a Swede, many agreed – wear black.

Young professional Tove advises to keep it “all black, minimalist”. Uppsala newspaper columnist Moa agrees: “Wear a lot of black clothes and DON’T wear sneakers or ‘comfortable’ shoes, like running shoes, with dresses.”

Black is a neutral colour and, in general, if you get the neutral colours right you have got a long way in following the Swedish style. 

Neutral colours and a lot of knitwear is a good starting point. Photo: FilippaK/

Stay neutral 

Sweden might be saying goodbye to hundreds of years of neutrality by joining Nato, but Swedish fashion maintains its strong neutral stance when it comes to colour combinations.

Generally speaking, in autumn and winter Swedes tend to wear darker colours, as Sharon put it: “lots of beige, grey, black and ivory knits or wool. Jeans black or any shade of blue. Black tights with white sneakers for skirts and dresses”.

“Swedes in general will wear black and navy together which I’ve not seen before,” she added.

However, as the weather gets warmer, things change, as half-British half-Swedish Erik explained: “in summer/late spring Swedes change shape and personality,” adding a bit more colour to their wardrobe.

“Lots of colours yet still somewhat monochrome,” he said.

Most Swedes don’t wear a tie at work. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Follow the news trend, drop the tie

Nils, a reporter and presenter for public broadcaster SVT in western Sweden, does not always wear a tie in front of the camera – and he said his colleagues on national news don’t wear ties either.

“It’s not a must,” he said.

A blue shirt, no tie, top button open, beige chinos and a grey dinner jacket is the look he chose when presenting the evening news a few weeks ago.

Nils Arnell presenting the news on SVT Nyheter Väst. Photo: Nils Arnell/SVT

On a day to day basis Nils, who stressed that he’s “not a fashion expert”, gave the following advice: “As long as you manage to dress in a neat style, you can get away with quite a lot.”

“A white t-shirt and an overshirt work well in most situations and look stylish.”

Stay classy, even in class

Engineering student Erik (not the same Erik quoted previously) recently returned to Sweden from a one-year exchange at Birmingham University, where he noticed a big difference in student style between the two countries.

“The first thing that comes to mind is that on university campus there are so many people wearing work-out clothes, at least where I was”, he said.

“In Sweden, it’s more common to wear jeans than tracksuit bottoms, compared to the UK”. 

It’s also common to see a difference in styles even between departments at Swedish universities. The law and economics departments, for example, tend to wear more formal attire with a higher number of students wearing shirts and polos than, say, social sciences or engineering students.

Many students seem to wear a toned-down version of what they might be expected to wear in their future workplace.

When in doubt, think Jantelagen!

Equality and conformity are important concepts when it comes to many aspects of day-to-day life in Sweden, including the clothes you wear.

This doesn’t mean you have to do exactly the same as everyone else, but more that being too flashy or over-the-top can be frowned upon.

This can be traced back to Jantelagen, “the law of Jante”, a set of 10 rules taken from a satirical novel written by Danish author Aksel Sandemose in the 1930s, which spells out the unwritten cultural codes that have long defined Scandinavia.

Jantelagen discourages individual success and sets average as the goal. It manifests itself in Swedish culture not only with a ‘we are all equal’ ethos but even more so a ‘don’t think you are better than anyone, ever’ mindset.

And this is seen in Swedes’ attitude to clothing, too. Flashy, expensive clothing with obvious logos or brands designed to show off your wealth breaks the first rule of Jantelagen: “You’re not to think you are anything special”.

‘Stealth wealth’

This doesn’t mean that Swedes don’t wear expensive clothes, though. They’re just not in-your-face expensive.

Felix, a podcaster from Stockholm describes it as “stealth wealth”, saying that Swedes would have no problem buying and wearing “a black jacket without any tags for 10,000kr”. 

Despite living in Sweden his whole life, he said that it’s not always easy to get the style right.

“I’m struggling myself,” he admitted.

He suggested taking a look at fashion blogger and journalist Martin Hansson for inspiration on how to dress. 

“Do NOT use bright colours,” Felix added.

Birkenstocks with socks. Photo: Carl-Olof Zimmerman/TT


Most of those we asked said that Swedes are a fan of white trainers, most commonly Stan Smiths or Vagabonds.

With the shoes being popular all year round for men and women, this can cause issues at house parties – as Swedes take off their shoes when they come inside.

This inevitably results in confused guests at the end of the night trying to figure out just which pair of white trainers belongs to them – and trying to find one missing shoe the next day because someone accidentally walked away with one of yours is more common than you might think. 

Vans trainers are also popular amongst more alternative crowds (black of course). At work, dress shoes are popular in the winter and loafers or ballerinas in the summer.

In the summer months, you’re likely to see Birkenstock sandals on men and women. Most Swedes wear Birkenstocks without socks – unless they’re off to do their laundry in their building’s tvättstuga.

Birkenstocks are also popular as indoor shoes all-year-round, both at home and at work. It is common to have a “no outdoor shoes” policy in gyms, schools and some offices. This is to avoid bringing a lot of dirt indoors, especially in the winter months when there is snow, rain, grit and salt on the streets.

H&M’s then-CEO Rolf Eriksen wears colourful socks at a press conference in 2006. Photo: Björn Larsson Ask/SvD/SCANPIX/TT

Don’t forget the socks!

As you often take your shoes off indoors in Sweden, your socks are visible.

This has led to an unexpected trend for colourful socks with interesting patterns, which are a great way to break the monotone of neutral colours and conformity by expressing your personality – in a lagom way, of course.

A pair of colourful socks or a playful pattern will get you noticed and likely be a conversation starter at a dinner party.

What’s your best advice for dressing like a Swede? Let us know!

This article is based on the responses we received from Swedes and foreigners in Sweden on what they think you should wear if you want to follow Swedish fashion trends.

If you have any tips of your own which you think we’ve left out, let us know! You can comment on this article, send us an email at [email protected], or get in touch with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @thelocalsweden