Architects, landscape architects and interior design consultancy SnÃ¸hetta is named after a mythical snow-capped mountain in central Norway and its fame is rising to international heights. SnÃ¸hetta works both on private and public commissions, most recently winning the competition to build the Oslo Opera House, scheduled to open in 2008. Recently completed projects include the interior design for The Royal Norwegian Embassy in Berlin, and those for Austrian light manufacturer Zumtobel showroom in Sandvika, Norway. For Zumtobel, ‘We followed the philosophy of the company, which is to promote an architecture of light,’ explains Linda Evensen, associate at SnÃ¸hetta. ‘The idea was not to exhibit all the light fittings, we showed only the new products and integrated the others in a multifunctional backwall, allowing for an undisturbed view.’ For Zumtobel, SnÃ¸hetta is working on a light design laboratory in their headquarters in Dornbirn, Austria, to open later this year.
SnÃ¸hetta’s most prestigious current project is the New Alexandria Library in Egypt, a 76 000m2 building due to open in 2001.
The project features a public exhibition and museum space, a planetarium, a school for information science, conference centre facilities and public and staff parking. Also included are an outdoor plaza with outdoor public furnishings. Linda Evenson designed the furniture for the library. ‘The aim was to reflect the simple and clean lines of the architecture,’ she says. The furnishing was conceived as a total package which can be seen from the entrance balcony and terraces overlooking the reading room. ‘The desks are quite geometric, while the chairs [look] more organic,’ says Evensen. The chairs’ graceful curves and ergonomic shapes are supposed to recall ‘the early artistic beauty’ found in historical Egyptian design. The Alex chair is on show at the Design Museum, with plans to put it into production.
Asked about SnÃ¸hetta’s style and approach, Evensen says it changes from time to time, although she acknowledges a ‘sense of Nordic design. We use materials such as wood, and tend to go for pure and clean shapes. We are minimalist in the sense of not adding details just for the sake of them.’ Although retaining their own Norwegian identity, she says that international trends and cultures influence the group’s work.