Elenore Snell and Alexandra Frandfors are the founders of Alex & Elle, a Scandinavian Art & Design business.

The company started with a conversation about dreams between two Swedish friends.

Architecture and Design spoke to the duo about Swedish interior design, trends in the design world, and common mistakes when it comes to interior design.

What are some of the top trends in Australia for interior design at the moment?

What really stands out is the use of wood and other natural materials in furniture, and products that are unique – handmade and not mass produced. Australia has so many outstanding designers.

The Scandinavian design influences seem to have come to Australia to stay. It is a timeless design where less is more, working with clean light surfaces and natural materials. Interior pieces, both furniture and decorative items, are not only about beauty but also practical uses. Form and function working together in harmony.

How does that compare to trends around the rest of the world?

Trends seem to have shorter and shorter life spans all over the world. For instance, the copper look and use of marble in interiors are already predicted to be on the way out. Design influences also spread faster and design ideas are quickly mass produced. Naturally, this makes design pieces more accessible to more people, but you also lose some of the authenticity and originality along the way.

In Scandinavia, as well as in Australia today, the base of interior design is natural wood and white clean spaces where you allow each piece of decoration within the space to shine. In other corners of the world, the use of darker wood, coloured walls and glamour are more common.

How does interior design in Sweden compare to that in Australia?

In Sweden, a dark and cold country most of the year, your home becomes even more important to you. So much time is spent indoors and most entertaining happens at home. Home d├ęcor to us is not only about making your home beautiful, but also cosy. This is where soft furnishings, lighting and candles have a big role to play.

What are some common mistakes people make when it comes to interior design?

In modern design most of us work with hard surfaces like wooden floors, concrete, tiles and metals often makes it hard to achieve a nice ambiance. The use of soft furnishings balances the hard surfaces and creates a home with the feeling you’re after. 

A common mistake when decorating a home, which often can be easily fixed, is the positioning of pendants and artwork. Often they are hung too high.

In the end, interior design should be personal – it should be a reflection of what people like and not what is the current trend.

What are three of your favourite items in your own homes?

Alex: My favourite items are a “Sky garden” pendant by designer Marcel Wanders and a candleholder called “The Friendship Knot” designed by Josef Frank for Svenskt Tenn. 

Elle: My favourite piece home is an old wooden cupboard from 1848 that I brought out to Australia from Sweden. It was a wedding gift to my great-great grandmother and has been in the family ever since.