Alexander Lervik is a designer who talks the talk and walks the walk.
He’ll wax lyrical about his staircase design for the century-old Swedish manufacturer Drömtrappor, and you can trust he’s sincere because it greets you right inside the front door of his home in Saltsjöbaden, Sweden. There it is in all its bentwood splendour, right next to the home lift he designed for Aritco.
Alexander didn’t think a lift would make much of a difference in this three-storey midcentury home on the Stockholm archipelago, but it proved to be a game-changer when he was landscaping the upstairs terrace with 250-kilo chunks of granite. ‘It’s fantastic when you’ve designed something to be able to use it, but I was surprised how often we do actually use it.’
He and his wife, Elin, a communications strategist, moved in two years ago with four children and one on the way. Their former neighbourhood in central Stockholm had become, he says, unbearable, the nightlife having intensified during the pandemic.
After they lost a bid on a house down the street, Elin marched up and down the gracious winding road in the rain, heavily pregnant, putting leaflets through all the letterboxes. Alexander didn’t think anything would come of it, but a response arrived the following day from the old woman who owned this 1961 kit house. Elin’s note had convinced her to sell.
That turned out to be the easy part. The prefab house she sold them had no windows onto the forested garden. The roof was severely damaged and had to be replaced with specialist Dutch tiles. ‘The basement,’ says Alexander, ‘was a catastrophe.’ He and Elin took the structure back to its brick foundations and dug out the property to unearth the gloomy lower floor.
Then they opened it up with a pair of French doors, creating a library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves and Alexander’s Mr Jones sofa for Finnish company ADEA. His op-art Ratio chair sits in the opposite corner beneath a framed print by Hilma af Klint. A narrow hallway leads to the rear garden and three tidy children’s bedrooms (the two eldest have left home but live nearby).
The discovery of an even deeper foundation on the site made way for a new below-ground office level, where Elin runs her business and Alexander keeps a woodshop –and the renovation doubled the couple’s living space. Most of their family life, however, takes place on the top storey. The day they signed the deed to the house, Alexander got a call from the kitchen manufacturer Ballingslöv, and the nu-Shaker design that came out of that initial contact now takes up half the floor. The large breakfast island is topped by a brilliant glass range hood that has to be cleaned every week, and the dining table seats ten people on Alexander’s back-hugging Saga chairs for Johanson Design.
‘This upstairs floor is the reason we moved here,’ says Alexander, who installed wood-framed picture windows on all sides to take advantage of the natural views. ‘Every morning we wake up to scenery,’ he says. He gestures to the primary suite down the hall, with its vaulted wood ceiling and banks of glazing. The hillside property steps up all around them, past a veritable rabbit farm filled with pet bunnies.
When Alexander isn’t in town at his Södermalm studio and gallery, he can be found walking his dogs in the 20 kilometres of parkland spreading out from the house to the Baltic Sea coast. Or he’ll be right here, sketching away, acting as his own best client.