February 17, 2011

Wallpaper in Lapland

Farmhouse Entrance in Swedish Lapland

I have just returned from Lapland and there is so much to share.  It has been hard to select a representative group of images.  The picture above says a lot.  It is a front door to a Swedish farmhouse north of the Arctic Circle.  The red color of the siding is a particular red that actually has a special Swedish name and is used on many rural dwellings. The key is in the door with a welcome sign adjacent.  What a sign of TRUST.  It is TRUST that permeates the Sami culture--a culture very dependent on the movement of reindeer.  Reindeer are a Laplanders 'bank savings'.  There is little exchange of money and much bartering of goods and services.  Aside from the open door policy, another example of TRUST is the commitment of a weaver to send me a hand loomed blanket and then have me pay for it at the Market next year.  WOW!    
Reindeer on the Move

Lapland is a territory that goes across 4 countries north of the Arctic Circle--Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.  There are 80,000 Laplanders, or Sami as they are better known--40,000 of whom live in Norway most of the time and 20,000 of whom live in Sweden most of the time.  I say most of the time because their lives are linked to their reindeer herds and they will sometimes cross over national borders while moving their herds to pasture.  Once a nomadic people, they now inhabit small villages and towns in the far north and once a year converge on Jokkmokk in Sweden for a market that has been in existence for 400 continous years.  

Per Leads a Reindeer Caravan to the Market

 It is cold in terms of temperature (-20 degrees F while I was there) but warm in terms of the hospitality and genuine kindness of the people. Just as the dwellings are painted red and sometimes yellow, the traditional dress of the Sami people is very colorful and quite elaborate in terms of the embroidery and the silver belts and ornaments. The traditional Sami hat has many red threads as above.  Some people jokingly say there is a red thread for each reindeer owned. Note the traditional costumes below.
Traditional Sami Man and Woman in Native Dress
Sami Wool Meets Down and Fur

Sami Family with Sleeping Child and Geometric Wallpaper Background
And, what a surprise, Wallpaper is popular in Lapland!  The middle photo above features a strong geometric pattern which serves as a perfect background for a display of functional design pieces.  In fact, every wall in this Sami home is covered with wallpaper purchased on-line.  Additional photos below feature other walls in local dwellings with a combination of soothing and exciting patterns.  We talk of how wallpaper is coming back in the USA.  Well, it never left Lapland where it has been appreciated for many years for its ability to soften a room and add interest and depth.  In their craft work and dress the Sami epitomize style and good design sense.  We can learn much from them, their way of life and their emphasis on TRUST.
A Sampler of Wallpaper and Border
Paintings Stand Out on Neutral Wallpaper

These patterns reflect a variety of colors and styles utilized in Sami homes in Northern Sweden.  I'll be sending my hosts some Peace Sign Decals, Hannah Montana Border and Train Decals for the young grandchildren.  U.S. Wallcovering comes to Jokkmokk.  Perhaps we can have a stall at next year's Market and sell some of our popular Disney decals and Borders.  When we considered market expansion, setting up a temporary sales showroom in sub-zero temperature was not part of the plan.  But, we are all about meeting customers' needs.  So, who knows?

In closing, the following pictures capture some of the natural beauty of Lapland as viewed inside a room at the world's largest Ice Hotel and from a frozen farmhouse window.

Art Room at the World Famous Ice Hotel

Inside Out--View from Farmhouse Window

Wallpaper in Lapland

Who would have thought
Of all the things sold and bought

In the far reaches of Sweden cold
That wallpaper would be edgy and bold

It is a commodity hot
Laplanders are truly besot

With the possibilities of a patterned paper
Featuring texture and many a geometric caper

So feast your eyes on the examples rare
Even as you beware of the moose and bear