Scandi vibes: The art of living simply

Mr and Mrs Clarke’s recent launch in Stratford-upon-Avon has awakened a love of Scandinavian living. Step into MOR Bakery for the sourdough then take a stroll home to reacquaint with the red thread through your home.

Mr and Mrs Clarke have made no secret of their passion and joy for Scandinavian living. Whenever there is an opportunity to delve a little deeper into the concepts that run through and revel in its impact on home vibes, we simply cannot resist. The very essence of its ethos, to live simply and beautifully, speaks to our souls. Our latest territory, Stratford-upon-Avon, is awash with great places for dining and living, and one such hot spot, MOR Bakery, brings about all sorts of delectable adjectives simply reading the menu. Plus, it has some serious Danish influence ‘kneaded’ into the fabric of its origins.

The bakery is a testament to the balanced, mindful joyfulness found in the every day. It’s owners, David and Danni, took some time from Viennoiserie prep to tell us how and why MOR (Danish for Mother) came about, what’s in store as you step over the threshold of this Stratford bakery, and how they’ve taken the art of Scandinavian living and brought it to Warwickshire.

It all started when former chef David was gifted a baking course by Danni followed by a trip to Mirabelle bakery in Copenhagen, as David tells us “it was their [Mirabelle’s] takeaway hatch that inspired the hatch that saved our business through lockdowns.” With this nifty design trick, a somewhat ‘old school’ house hack here in the UK, in mind, David and Danni were open for business and baking full steam ahead. “The name MOR is both a reference to the starter that feeds all of the sourdough bakes that we create and also to wanting the bakery to be a place that you come to to be nourished and cared for, much like our mothers!”

Emma da Silva, Stratford-upon-Avon Partner

A nourished community spirit

With the art of nourishment crafted to a tee, it was for the couple to take the Scandinavian art of living that one step further in the bakery design and flow, for an immersive, enriching and, let’s face it, delicious experience. David said “We take [it] to mean living simply and beautifully, and most importantly in finding joy in the moments that exist in everyday living. The interior has been designed by a friend of ours, Julie Tysseire, to be calming and nature inspired, it makes you feel relaxed to be in and therefore able to be in the moment.”

“We wanted to create a community atmosphere at the bakery where you could come to spend time connecting with others and yourself.” That idea of connecting to others and ones own space is integral to the art of living and it is exciting to know that Stratford’s streets have some fine feasting on offer and MOR, which considers its design and menu a connective experience, so that you use every sense on every level. “For our food it’s important that it sparks joy, not only the taste, but the smell and the sight. It’s so warming to see people’s faces light up when they see the chef and bakers at work, in the open kitchen, and then take their first bite.”

Danish Summer House on Fano (Photos courtesy of Tollgard Studio)

Out of the bakery and into the home

With MOR feeding our bellies and creating a thirst for more on the subject, we got to thinking about how the art of Scandinavian living continues to win out in the home. Monique and Staffan Tollgard are a design partnership, husband and wife and former filmmaking wonders, based in London, whose own Scandinavian heritage is at the heart of their work, on home design projects and in their curated furniture pieces on show in the Tollgard showroom. Who better to connect with over the beauty in designing using the Red Thread concept, a Northern European idea that forms their own design philosophy.

Monique says “It’s used to describe the unique DNA that characterises any piece of creative work. The ‘why’ at the heart of the piece – and indeed the ‘so what?’. For us, each design journey begins with establishing the Red Thread: why are we telling this story, of these people, in this place: environment, architecture, identity.

“Pulling together clues from the architecture, from the cultural history, from the building blocks of the landscape, from a client’s own personalities and the questions of living that need to be solved by the design, the Red Thread draws a protective framework around the project, linking architecture with interiors, homeowner with design.”

So, the Red Thread is not so much a style, as meditation of the landscape and an approach that pulls creative ideas together, allowing them to feed from one another. This approach is the home is both mindful and endlessly creative, allowing you to explore the richness of your own styles, while maintaining a harmony and balance. “The Red Thread keeps us centred throughout and provides a reference point for each decision, allowing us to weave stories into the fabric of the design. Imagine a set of balancing scales with each idea measured against the red thread. Eventually what begins to emerge is a distinct voice.”

Beaconsfield project, Monique and Staffan’s home

More than beauty

“This philosophy is about more than just the visual beauty of a wonderful home, it understands that homes are ever-evolving spaces, with a transformative quality that can positively impact the lives of the people living there. As we work with our clients using the red thread, we have often found it pushes them to question how they want their spaces to nurture their family rituals and personal growth. Our response is to create spaces that work as opportunities for connection: whether it’s music, reading, gardening, cooking, homework or games; a well-planned home can change how we live.”

Red Thread fully woven in, there are touchstones of Scandinavian living that provide a welcome refresh and reset on our otherwise cluttered lives, as Monique and Staffan attest to “Scandinavian design is founded on functionalism. It embraces the materials at hand and eschews excess. The Swedish concept of ‘lagom’ – ‘just enough’ –  is something else that has influenced our design values. We don’t add decorative elements for the sake of it; we aim not to ‘over-egg the pudding’ and try to use natural, locally sourced materials that bring us closer to the outside world.

“I find Scandinavia almost pagan in its attachment to seasonal rituals and to how we respond to the changing seasons. We bring the outside in during the summer, and when it’s cold and dark we all put lights into the window – a tradition that dates back to welcoming the weary traveller in from the desolate landscape. We celebrate connections seasonally with Christmas table and Easter buns (semla) but also daily with fika: coffee and a sweet treat. There is a red thread of togetherness founded in Swedish culture that has influenced every aspect of how we design homes for our clients and their families.”

Even taking a moment to take in Monique and Staffan’s words makes us more aware of our surroundings of our attachment to, not just pieces but traditions that occur around the rooms of our homes. Togetherness is a design philosophy that will never grow old.

Contemporary villa in Jordan (Design by Tollgard Studio)

A designer’s retreat

It’s wonderful to see how designers also see their own homes and lifestyles, with the common values running through, Staffan says “Interestingly, when Monique and I established the red thread for our own home, we saw how the values we voiced began to resonate in other choices we made. Choosing a hotel became a cinch: did it fit within its landscape and did it have a clear vision of how it contributed to the local community? A restaurant? Locally sourced ingredients and an innovative approach: essentially storytelling through food and we were hooked.

“Finding your red thread is a life-long journey and the thread will change through different chapters. Its emergence in interiors is just one very important iteration that we enjoy teasing out.”

How do you tease out your red thread in your home and lifestyle? Mr and Mrs Clarke and partners love nothing more than working with you to close a chapter on one home and step into the next exciting one, in the perfectly matched home.

If the Red Thread is a lifelong journey, we can’t wait to embark on it with you.

With thanks to David and Danni at MOR Bakery and the incomparable Monique and Staffan Tollgard for sharing in their love of the art of Scandinavian living.


Words by Jade Scott.

MOR Bakery images courtesy of Isobel Murphy and Rachel Ghent.

MOR bakery

If you, or anyone you know want to sell your home in Stratford-upon-Avon then give Emma a message. 

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