Inspiration Profile - Emma Hart

Welcome to the end of another week and we have a great Inspiration Profile for you.
I have been sick and under the weather lately, which makes one feel rather uninspired - however, I am happy to feature Emma Hart and her Scandinavian furniture business, Skandi today. Her enthusiasm and passion just oozes from her profile and is a great read. So enjoy and have a relaxing weekend all.

Emma Hart

Skandi Store

Name:Emma Hart

What do you do: I do many things including running a media coaching agency in Europe which I set up 12 years ago and allows me to travel the world coaching extraordinary people and see amazing places and things whilst keeping a close eye on trends.
Now my focus is on Skandi which opened as a pop up last year (and sold out within 3 months) and is now back for the foreseeable future as I am just about to sign a permanent lease!
Skandi is the only store dedicated to sourcing, importing and selling authentic furniture and lighting from the 50’s, 60’s and early 70’s purely from Denmark, Sweden and Norway. This essentially means I am the one climbing through farmers’ barns in minus 5 degrees to see if the chair leg in the distance does in fact belong to Hans Wegner or Kai Kristiansen.  Good quality vintage pieces are getting harder to source which means that I have to travel into the small towns and countryside to find interesting one-offs which have design pedigree as this is what we specialise in.
I started collecting mid century Scandinavian furniture after moving to Copenhagen in 2008. My apartment got rapidly jammed with gorgeous pieces from Hans Wegner, Fritz Hansen, Børge Mogensen, Hay, Kai Kristiansen with lighting from Louis Poulsen, Sven Middleboe and Fog & Mørup.
My floors were painted black with far too many vintage rugs along with a small herd of reindeer skins scattered over chairs. Our apartments back in Denmark are big but it wasn’t long before I had to make a decision - stop buying or get a warehouse and do it properly. The former was never going to be an option.
Also this year we have a luscious range of interiors textiles from the UK including Designers Guild, Miss Print, Harlequin and gorgeous new European fashion including Danish and Swedish brands.


Danish three seater couch

Where do you live:  I moved back to my home town Wellington, New Zealand last year after 15 years away in Europe although I do travel back to Denmark, Finland and the UK 2-3 times a year for both media work and buying trips.
I currently live in a small soon to be renovated cottage on the rugged and currently very tumultuous south coast which on stormy days throws everything it has at you...and then some. It’s a lovely small still very Italian fishing community and I love seeing the fishing boats chug out at dawn on a sea of glass on the hunt for groper, but on stormy days you can be picking seaweed out of your garage and borrowing buckets from the neighbours. It can be totally dramatic.
I see a lot of similarities between Denmark and NZ, not only the coastline can be similar but they way we interact with our houses, our castles. The Danes and Swedes are very house proud with much of family life revolving around the home which mirror the change of the seasons.

What are you working on: The 1950’s house was a scientific triumph, designed in a laboratory and tested on inhabitants of all ages before being built for the masses. Never had homes been so thoroughly contemporary, with antiques and period styles entirely banished. Skandi  looks at this seminal decade and exhibits ways and ideas for taking the 1950’s look forward whilst mixing and matching it with existing pieces from our pasts (nana’s dresser, family tables etc) plus using modern textiles, period lighting and vibrant floor coverings to bring a strong and unique narrative to a room or home.
Because there is so much to look at upon entering the shop, people can get overwhelmed so I like to cluster pieces together in vignettes to show how a certain wood like a rosewood sideboard might interact with a Designers Guild fabric or how many of the lights that came out of Scandinavia in the 1950’s were designed to be hung really low over tables or cabinets. There is a lot of education that goes with introducing people to the designers we stock at Skandi and how they influenced generations of designers and furniture. If you take a look at Ikea’s latest catalogue you will see that so much of it is based off designs from the key designers of the 1940’s-1960’s.
One of the main aims of Skandi is to make people stop and think about what it is they like about design, the grain of the wood, the slight curvature of the armrests or the signature strong clean lines.
We display items with contrasting sometimes clashing textiles and colours to stop people and allow them to take a stance on what they like and dislike based on their own appreciation of colour and form.

Colour: Right now I am loving brass and copper colours and metallic contrasted with the dark and gritty grain of rosewood. Colours and textures that give off warmth, reflect light and give depth. At Skandi we have a great selection of original copper lights from the 50’s and 60’s. Some of them are the pull down ceiling lights which are great for creating and intimate space at dinnertime. Rosewood is not so common here and is an elegant dark hard wood from the mahogany family. It cannot be milled anymore due to it being on the endangered species list and therefore is becoming more of a coveted commodity. 


Copper light shades at Skandi

Food: After living in Denmark for so long I am a total convert to all things Scandinavian. Some of the best chiefs on the planet are Danish or Swedish and seeing what they do with food is awe inspiring.
I prefer simple clean food which is the cornerstone of the Danish diet. It is hard to beat an open rye bread sandwich with gravalax or pickled herring with dill sauce. My diet is still very Danish which means heaps of beetroot, salmon, dark bread, rucola, rye and very strong coffee.



Smell: Smell is so underrated. It has an emotional force that engages memories, comfort and sensory arousal. Many of our customers comment on the scent when they walk into Skandi which is a mix of teak oil and lemongrass which I burn constantly. It is a good motivator and has a lovely uplifting clean feel good aroma. 
On a personal note, for me right now Tom Ford’s White Patchouli scent is instant gratification albeit a slightly complicated but totally indulgent scent. Peony, night jasmine, coriander and bergamot created on a rose heart scent and then darkened with a patchouli base.

Flowers: Bright red Gladioli and lots of them!




Style: Totally eclectic but always warm, sumptuous and elegant and you can guarantee there will always be candles burning.

Who/what inspires me: Kelly Wearstler, design queen from furniture to necklaces anything this lady touches is gold. Tom Ford – he turns beauty into art and then into sales, Danish design icon Marlene Birger, young and super talented furniture and objects of desire designer Niels Christophersen, Alexander McQueen, Danish icons Kaare Klint, Finn Juhl who pioneered Danish design as we know it. Børge Mogensen who took things further and designed simple and robust objects of furniture for the average Danish family.  Nanna Ditzel who had a very individualistic approach and was successful in helping to renew Danish furniture design in the 1980s.
Lastly my good friends Glen and Arthur who remind me that it is not just about the things but where you are in yourself at any given time that create harmony and beauty in a space.

I work best: Mornings are for planning, function and for doing, evenings are for creativity, ideas and orchestration. I totally admire those creatives that are up at 5am to do emails, a class of Bikram and run their empires before getting the kids off to school but that is just not the way I roll.  More of a night owl with a glass of wine, candles burning and music playing to inspire and have the room to mull.


Borge Mogensen oak armchair



What I do when I’m stuck for inspiration: If I am stuck it is usually because of fear. The best ideas for me usually lie right under the fear. To drop the fear and make the move I know in my gut I should, I need to (and not necessarily in this order..) leave the house, walk, listen to Burial whilst in nature, read or watch the brilliant things other creatives are doing and why, ask questions, sit in a friends’ studio and observe their process, watch biographic documentaries from Ai Weiwei, Yves Saint Laurent, Georgia O’Keffe, to NYC Street photographer Bill Cunningham, Frances Hodgkins etc remember the bigger picture, have a boozy dinner with friends and have faith in ones abilities.

The best advice I have been given is: When I packed up my flat in Copenhagen last year and was have jitters preparing to move back to NZ and open Skandi a very good Norwegian friend and jewellery designer Annette Ravenhill printed this Steve Jobs quote off in A1.
Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. 
I majored in art and design but started off my professional career a print reporter and photographer, moving onto become a TV reporter and latterly founding a corporate media business in Europe. At the end of the day all of our lives are expression in motion of all the different parts of us and I like this quote for recognition of how we are never just one role, persona or ambition.
When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, I used everything you gave me. –Erma Bombeck
We may be chasing beauty, desire and comfort but surely it is how we interact with people every day that is the lasting and rarer treasure.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. –Maya Angelou

My latest discovery is: The crazy city of Helsinki, that everything tastes better with cardamom and that I cannot live without reindeer skins. The major design find are these lights from Swedish lighting master Sven Middleboe. I can’t tell you the amount of joy that I and nearly every single customer gets when looking at these giant gorgeous original ceiling lights.

Reindeer skins

Books that I get inspiration from: Northern Delights, Noma – Time and Place in Nordic Cuisine, A Day at el Bulli by Ferran Adrià who is the master at peeling back what we thought we knew to reinvent more of what we never thought could exist. The Sourcebook of Scandinavian Furniture: Designs for the Twenty-First Century which is the bible when it comes to learning and identifying mid century furniture from the five Nordic countries.

Magazines that inspire me: Eurowoman, Rum, Elle Interior, World of Interiors, Purple, Wallpaper, Times Style Magazine, Bolig,

My favourite room at home is: I prefer pieces and places rather than rooms... so if I had to choose it would be at the wee beach house in Waikanae nestled in my Danish 1950’s bear chair, Verner Panton white standing lamp at my side or back home in the city in my new (old and original) Hans Wegner Y chair.. which have to be the most extraordinarily comfortable dining chairs ever made.

My office is: Either my shop or my upholstery table inside my crazy upside down cottage by the sea which is a mixture of fabrics, paperwork and things of beauty in various states of readiness for the shop.

What am I looking forward to: Heading back to the summer next at the end of the month to catch summer in Copenhagen, Trondheim  and Helsinki, check out some reindeer farms, hunt out some more lighting and pack another container of goodies. I have also been asked to write 24 hours guides for Copenhagen and Helsinki.. a great excuse to catch up with friends for a fabulous day and night out!

Thank you Emma - such a great profile. Keep up to date with Emma and Skandi on their website or on Facebook




All photographs are used with permission from Emma Hart and Skandi.

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