Swede Johan Lindeberg, onetime designer for Diesel, set up his men’s wear line a decade ago; he’s since broadened into accessories, women’s wear, denim and a sports line. He lives with his Milanese wife, Marcella, creative director of his women’s line, and their young daughter, Blue, in London.
How many homes do you own?
I don’t own any at all right now. I took everything I owned and put it into my company, J. Lindeberg. We have been looking for a house in London and decided to rent in order to find the right location. We like Notting Hill. We’ve lived there now for four and a half years; our daughter is in school; it’s very calm and relaxing. I like to walk through Hyde Park to work every day in Covent Garden. And it’s a great location, very close to Heathrow airport, as I travel constantly. With no traffic, it takes me 25 minutes to get there.
I know you’re very international.
We’ve moved 19 times in the past
Wow – that’s quite a schedule.
We were constantly moving and never really knew where we wanted to live.
I used to live in Stockholm, then moved to New York and met my wife there. Then we decided we needed to be closer to the Stockholm office and moved to Milan. When you rent in Milan, there’s no kitchen, only pipes, so we got this beautiful kitchen and three months later I realised I had to move back to Stockholm . . . then we moved to the West Village in New York and my daughter was born there. Then back to Stockholm again.
Why London now?
We’re an international family. Sweden is too Swedish, Italy is too Italian. We decided to make our base in London.
Was that a difficult decision?
I don’t think it matters any longer where you are. In any city there’s an international community and we’re a true international couple. And at
J. Lindeberg we have no heritage to defend, unlike Burberry, Ralph Lauren or Prada; we are everywhere and nowhere.
But how Swedish do you consider yourself? You still have an accent.
When you’re from a very small country where no one understands your language – just like Holland – you get international very quickly. That’s why we have a lot of successful international companies out of Sweden.
Did you take your furniture with you when you moved those 19 times? That’s a lot of packing and shipping.
I have a white leather sofa that’s one of my favorite pieces. I wanted to have a Vladimir Kagan sofa at my apartment on Park Avenue in New York but I couldn’t get it up there – it didn’t fit into the freight elevators. So I decided to design one myself inspired by him. Then I shipped it to Milan, to Stockholm, back to New York and then Stockholm. It’s been all over the world. I have a few other things I really like that I’ve also shipped, like chairs by Warren Platner I bought at an auction in Chicago.
How do you decorate a new space?
I like it overall modern but it also needs to be very grounded. I am a big meditator – for the past 10 to 15 years, I meditate two hours a day. My home cannot be a spaceship; we’ve tried to balance between contemporary pieces and more low-key furniture.
What’s your favourite room at home?
I like to sit in what we call the living room. I go down in the early morning and there’s great light coming in. My wife is a photographer, all her photos are over the walls; there’s great energy in the room. The sofa is very white, white leather and there are black-and-white photos on the walls.
And the walls? Are they white too?
I like white walls – and white floors. I have white floors at home, in my showroom, in my office in Covent Garden, even white concrete floors. I just watched a DVD with John Lennon and Yoko Ono; you could see a big house in the countryside in England with a whole white room – it’s unbelievable. I’m from a student city in the south of Sweden and I was born during a very anarchistic era. We always painted the walls and roof gold and orange; it was very bohemian somehow. I still have a little of that but I like white more.
What can’t you live without in any home?
A beautiful bedroom where you can really close the curtains and sleep tight. I learned that from Italy; they close the windows and everything gets completely dark. In Sweden, during June, July and August, it’s so light it’s hard to keep the sun away from you.
What about entertaining?
We don’t invite too many people to our house, to be quite honest. I like to close the door, turn off the phones and just relax. We are very disciplined. Marcella and I decided that because we work together when we enter the house we don’t talk about J. Lindeberg. If we want to talk, we say “Can we take a meeting on Monday at 10am?” We are very disciplined.
Sweden’s produced the most famous furniture company in the world, Ikea. Do you have any plans to expand beyond fashion?
I’ve wanted to do furniture for many years and we’ll have it within two or three years. I like things modern but when I painted the floor white in our office I started jumping on it, trying to scratch it. If it’s too proper and new I get a little anxiety. I try to mess things up a little to look more real.
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