Det privata hemmet som offentlig scen


  • Anna Ingemark


The Private Home as a Public Scene The Private Home as a Public Scene discusses the homes of two of the most important Swedish authors at the turn of the century – Ellen Key’s Strand (built in 1910) and Verner von Heidenstam’s Övralid (built in 1925). Ellen Key (1849–1926) and Verner von Heidenstam (1859–1940) both spent many years abroad before returning to Sweden in search for their roots and a place which they could call their own. They each found a piece of ground on the shore of the magnificent lake Vättern. Though no architects themselves the two authors took an active part in designing their own houses. By following the building process closely from start to finish they each created a highly individual home reflecting their respective ideas and personalities. Their private dwellings became in a way a physical extension of their own selves and served as a public scene, where the leading actress/actor was surrounded by the cultural élite. The differences between Strand and Övralid are striking, although the two friends had similar background and experiences. Ellen Key was strongly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and the pioneer William Morris. She was one of the great advocates of the social aesthetic ideas in Sweden. Her writings and lectures were an important contribution to the current debate on the necessity of beauty in everyday life. She was mainly concerned about the need for improving the conditions of the working class, both by raising the general level of education and transforming housing in a way that combined beauty and function. Her own home is characterized by simplicity, informality and warmth. In creating his house Verner von Heidenstam in his turn managed to make this into his own image – a stringent, elegant home, worthy of a true aristocrat and Nobel laureate. Övralid soon became a monument of the famous author. In common with many of the authors and artists at the turn of the century Ellen Key and Verner von Heidenstam were aesthetically aware and eagerly participated in the public debate on architecture and design while manifesting themselves privately through their own homes.