Friday, July 2, 2010


I am trying...I am trying really hard to keep my Norway blogging to just one week. However, that seems to be an impossible task. We may be in the hinterlands again, but there is lots to cover. So today I will show you two extremely different buildings, and if anyone wants more, I will do another round of Norway pics next week...just let me know....or I may just decide to do it anyway.


Oslo, founded in 1048 by the Viking King Harald III, is a beautiful city that was once even more beautiful, that is, before the Germans destroyed much of it during WWII. Of course, many of you saw the city's great sculpture park a few weeks ago. Oslo is the business center of Norway, and often named the most expensive city in the world...sometimes fighting it out with Tokyo and London, often winning. There is quite a bit of building happening, especially on the water. Numerous new luxury apartment buildings are going up, next to slick new offices. Needless to say, the world economic downturn has not touched this little country much.
One of the newest additions to the waterfront is the new opera house completed in 2008. Looking to Sydney for the WOW factor, Oslo put out the call for all architects to submit proposals. Unlike the Aussies who hired someone half a world away, Norway decided on the local firm of Snohetta (check out their great website: This was likely a good choice to keep controversy to a minimum. However, no one in Norway was too happy when the Norwegian architecture firm chose to clad much of the building in Italian marble instead of Norwegian granite! Although I must say I think the granite would have been too gray....the marble is beautiful. Shhhh...don't tell anyone in Norway.....
Not only is this a beautiful place to see the national opera and ballet companies, the space is what the architects call an 'open house'. This means its open to the public essentially all the time. Go have a coffee in the lobby, walk up the ramp to the rooftop and enjoy the view, or sit literally at the waters edge. There are also outdoor concerts on the roof and in a floating stage.... rock, jazz, Shakespeare....everything.
Anyway, I think the WOW factor is definitely there... hope it comes across in my photos!

These shots courtesy of the Opera House:

And these courtesy of my camera:

(The Guggenheim done Nordic style...indoors and in wood!)

There are numerous elements that have been comissioned by artists, such as the stage curtain by Pae White (an American) which was woven to look like crumpled foil.  This is ACTUALLY all MATTE COTTON...:

And the 'Other Wall' by Olafur Eliasson from Iceland.  This pierced and lit wall clads the services areas (such as the cool bathrooms...sorry no pics, you have to visit!) in the lobby:
Here you can see the colored lights to greater effect, thanks Papafrezzo:

And the sculpture (which many Norwegians don't particularly care for) just outside the Opera House by Monica Bonvicini.  Must be left-over annoyance from the whole Italian marble thing...I kind of like this too, looks to me like an iceberg....don't tell the Norwegians I like this one either please:

Well, anyone who likes country charm, step right up. This amazing house is located on a small island in the Oslo fjord, belongs to a good friend of the family's who also happens to be the Queen's gardener. Needless to say I had to include some photos of the garden. He is a genius with dirt and bulbs, that’s for sure. But not too bad on the interior either. The thing that always strikes me in Norway, is the effortless charm that so many houses are able to conjure.  Nothing looks staged or dressed, just casual, easy and simply oozing charm.  After visiting his house this time around, I had my very first desire to move far from any large city and find a quite spot with an old farmhouse and well, hire a great gardener. Please enjoy:

The main house:

The guesthouse:
The garage!:

The garden (of Eden):

The Interiors: There is no formal living room, just a very large dining room, a working kitchen, a fabulous library, and a small enclosed porch, perfect for four.

Upstairs, two charming bedrooms:
With equally charming views:


  1. Agreed - both beautiful and charming. It's fun to see photos of your world in Norway. More Norway pictures next week too, please. :)

  2. I have known Christa for many years and survived most of them. Like most of us, Christa surprised parents, friends and certainly unsuspecting aquaintances of her charm, tenacity, and talent. Visiting our office (exporting decorative products) one evening, Christa stated she would never be involved in such a stressful small business. Eat those works you work-a-holic! Running an interior design business, a weekly blog, teaching design and appraising, not to mention being the valedictorian speaker at Sotheby's. Certainly a WOW life!

  3. What a neat country home, the landscaping and library are great!

  4. Both the opera house and the country home are amazing in totally different ways. There's definitely a wow factor (or several) in the opera house, but I'd almost rather spend my time sitting in one of the chairs on the front porch of the country home admiring the garden. Beautiful! Would love to see more posts and more photos of Norway!