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'Your home is too important to let it look like a rat hole'

The Local · 28 Jan 2011, 17:46

Published: 28 Jan 2011 17:46 GMT+01:00

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Earlier this week, UK-native Davies and Swedish sidekick Tomas Cederlund announced they were set to star in a new interior design programme to be broadcast in the United States on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN).

The show, Home Takeover with Simon & Tomas, is set to premiere on March 28th, features the “Lords of Fabulousness” as they help US homeowners correct interior design faux pas.

In an interview with The Local, Davies explains how a Brit and a Swede ended up offering design tips in connection with one of the biggest names in television.

How long have plans for a US show been in the works?

Plans have quietly been in the making since last August but naturally lawyers were involved so things took a little time.

How did you settle on the Oprah Winfrey Network?

We came out to LA and pitched the idea to 11 networks and channels; four called us and said they were interested but OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) which was being launched four months in advance of our meetings called us up 30 minutes after the pitch and said they wanted us, no trial show, straight to screen.

It was a fantastic opportunity as everything she touches is a huge success and to have your show promoted by OWN is really very flattering.

The programme sounds a lot like the shows you’ve had in Sweden in recent years. How have you altered the concept for a US audience?

We have tried to make the show about the culture clash between the US and Europe.

We have just arrived in Shreveport, Louisiana and on the way from being collected at the airport for a little local colour we stopped off at a drive through margarita shop. All rather eye popping.

We are also able to be much ruder to American families as I do not think they are so sensitive and we get lots of feedback.

Why do you think this concept is suited for the United States?

Right now on US TV Swedes and the English are quite hot property and in my experience Americans love the English accent. I do think Americans like to get beaten up a bit by the English.......it makes them feel less guilty about the colonies.

How would you compare “ugly” American homes to the “ugly” homes you found in Sweden? Do Swedes and Americans make the same interior design mistakes? Are ugly US homes “uglier” than ugly Swedish homes?

The most obvious ugly mistake we have found in America as that people simply stuff their homes with cuddly toys with ghastly logos on them like, “Mom, you are the best and I love you more than cookies”.......someone take me out and shoot me.

I also think US homes are much more extreme in their ugliness. Swedish homes are often ugly in their boringness and every home having all the same things, vitrinskåp (glass cabinet), plastmatta (plastic floor coverings) etc., etc.

What sort of differences did you notice in the way that Swedes and Americans think about design and reacted to your efforts?

Americans are much noisier and are prepared to show their emotions in a different way. They really give you all they have and let you know just what they think. Swedes are a little reserved with their emotions.

Was it easier to work with Swedes or with Americans? Why?

Working here is easier as we have a crew of 30 people out on site whereas in Sweden we might perhaps have 5. You have to remember that the TV and film business here is simply huge and there are always tens of thousands of people who will do anything to break into the business. As an example, after our first days filming they fired the 3 camera men—not good enough—and they were replaced by day 2. It is pretty cut throat.

Do you plan to continue producing your shows and running your stores in Sweden?

We have decided to close the store as we would like to concentrate on our private clients and we do not need a store to do that. As we source furniture for clients so each home is individual and tailored to suit the client a 600 sqaure metre showroom is no longer necessary.

Being in LA is a good example of how we would like to continue working, we find a wonderful pair of chairs that we know would suit a client so they get shipped back to Sweden, or perhaps it is a carpet, table or bureau. So long as we have a gorgeous office that reflects our style these pieces will fit in there, we want to have an office that feels like our home.

Any other projects abroad in the works?

Story continues below…

We have a project in the Caribbean designing and building a house in traditional Caribbean style with traditional materials and a contemporary interior. I do not think two projects in Skåne (in southern Sweden) count.

Is the United States in danger of being “Ikea-ized” in the way may Swedish homes have been?

Absolutely not.

How has Swedish design affected interior design in the United States? How might your programme play a role in raising the profile of Swedish and Scandinavian design in the US?

I suspect the US will pay no attention at all and that is not the message of our show. Our whole point has always been your home is too important to let it look like a rat hole.

When you come home after a stressful day, awful boss, kids screaming, run out of milk you should think of home as a sanctuary, somewhere where you can relax, let your cares drift away and feel your batteries can re-charge.

Living in Sweden we are consumed by the Swedish model and we rarely look beyond our own borders for inspiration; Americans embrace everything and every style and make it their own and I have huge respect for that.

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

20:13 January 29, 2011 by caradoc
this is news?

2nd rate ´clebrities` talking about a 2nd rate show from a 3rd rate T.V service going to a country who´s TV is entertainment (generaly) for those stuffed with prozac,

God help us and the Local
20:53 January 29, 2011 by dizzymoe33
As an American I do not enjoy getting "beat up" by the Brits. I don't know where they are getting their information but most of us Americans could care less that we beat them in the war and sent them home packing.
04:59 January 30, 2011 by caradoc

As your an American i am surprised that you know any history.

Secondly i was not attacking America , i was attacking 2nd rate entertainment and the cheek of The Local presenting this as news.

And you also seem to assume i am a Brit. Maybe i am a member of the minority, an inteligent Yank.
15:47 January 30, 2011 by Babe Soderbom
I have watch this show since coming to live in sweden and my swedish is very limited,as my mother tongue is English. I watch it and sometimes i go wow and sometimes that looks like s**t it would be nice to see the place you revamp revisited after six months,if it still good.u could call it Simon & Tomas returns.

what do u think. no i am not a interior either just someone a who has a beautiful house with my own individual taste.
22:49 January 30, 2011 by mkvgtired
caradoc, definitely not American, almost no Americans refer to themselves as Yanks. I dont know where the recent spat of British arrogance is coming from. I love the British version of Top Gear on BBC but with how arrogant they are as of late I have almost stopped watching it. With the lengths many Brits seem to go to insult Americans it seems that they are trying to mask a serious inferiority complex. As far as intelligent Americans being rare, only two countries have more college educated people per capita than the US: Canada and Japan. The UK trails by 8%.

Very odd considering during my travels I have found Brits and Americans to be the most fun people to meet and hang out with, closely followed by the Aussies, Irish, and Germans. I dont know where this online animosity comes from, maybe these closed minded online trolls dont travel? Etiher way, considering how similar our cultures are I dont know why so many Brits seem to think they are so superior.
09:41 January 31, 2011 by HYBRED
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
11:32 January 31, 2011 by flintis
Comment removed by The Local for breach of our terms.
22:46 January 31, 2011 by dizzymoe33

My comments were based upon the comments made within the story itself they were not directed at you. But yes I know my history quite well and I even have a college education not bad for a "Yank". By the way we don't refer to ourselves as Yanks we call ourselves Americans. I am thinking that you Brits are still a little upset that us Yanks kicked your butts out of America. Just a thought.
09:56 February 1, 2011 by Céitinn

If you knew your history then you would know it was mostly the French who fought in your war of independence as they wanted to kick us out of north America so they could have Canada for themselves.

Statue of Liberty ring any bells for you?

But don't worry, you can still carry on buying your history and culture which you so clearly lack in the hope that someone throws some class in for free!
10:04 February 1, 2011 by HYBRED
I thought 'culture' was something that grew in a perti dish.
15:41 February 1, 2011 by Streja
Or perhaps it would be good for some people to use the money they spend on interior design on something useful, like buying books that they can read or buy tickets for the opera.

Everyone's different. Some people like deisgn others care more about what knowledge and culture they can get from life.
17:57 February 1, 2011 by calebian22
I for one can't wait to see their program. They are hilarious.
19:32 February 1, 2011 by BobWas
Streja, I like to read literature and listen to opera in a beautiful room.
05:03 February 2, 2011 by mkvgtired
@Céitinn, It can hardly be said the France did "most" of the fighting. They did contribute, largely because they believed the British were tyrannical, and as you said wanted Canada. One of the biggest contributions was helping stabilize the financial situation during the war to make it possible to keep fighting. I am not minimizing their contribution but there were much more colonists fighting than French.
12:12 February 3, 2011 by thecraicer
We ain't got no guilt about whoppin' dem limeys. But we also don't have an air of superiority about it that so many limeys have. Why they need to have a dig at the "yanks" (btw we aint all yanks just like the Irish ain't Brits) at every turn shows a real insecurity complex. Plus must of their stereotypes have little basis in reality. Uneducated Americans? How about the fact that 95% of the people in any country are uneducated.
22:29 February 3, 2011 by mikewhite
"whoppin' dem limeys" ?

Sounds more like something out of Uncle Tom's Cabin - which century are we in ?
04:16 February 5, 2011 by repat_xpat
Just stay home in wonderful Sweden/UK. The US doesn't need your arrogant Swedish humility.
14:55 February 6, 2011 by thecraicer


It is so effin arrogant. I've seen it so many times and in so many contexts. They like to hide behind that they are just timid but they are really being concieted snobs.
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