Unlike its more flamboyant neighbors, Swiss style is traditionally unostentatious, somewhat reserved, and often more focussed on function than form. Swiss culture is famous for precision, honesty and equality, set against dramatic landscapes of huge mountains, elegant lakes and neat cities. In Switzerland the interior of a building has often been designed and furnished by the exterior architect, using the environment to add drama and create a cohesive design. This approach works well with a new-build property, but doesn’t easily adapt to changes in occupants, requirements of modern living or maturity in the surroundings.
The last few years have seen an emergence of a new style of Swiss interior design, sometimes labelled as Helvetic. It has grown from the desire to preserve the vision of the original architect while balancing this with the needs of the current occupants; a style that combines the best of functionality with subtle artistry to create something uniquely Swiss.
Where does Helvetic design come from?
The new Innenarchitektur trend began life in the city of Zürich around the start of the millennium, inspired by the legacy of Max Bill (1908-1994) the great architect, designer and artist. The prime Zürich Innenarchitekten design studios, such as Iria Degen, Ina Rinderknecht, Atelier Zürich, Studio Frey and Dyer-Smith, started developing themes in response to a rising demand for refurbishment of established homes in the municipalities of Meilen, along the eastern banks of Lake Zürich – often referred to as the Zürich Gold Coast. Rather than mimic French, German or Italian fashions, these interior architects and designers wanted to honour the existing architecture of the buildings and create something definitively Swiss.
What’s the trend?
Helvetic style is all about complementing the existing architecture of a building with clean, pure, high-quality design using color, shape and form. It’s about subtle, discerning design that adds personality and comfort to a space while respecting the original architectural intentions. Whether a building is Schweizerstil, Heimatstil or one of many modern styles, a Helvetic revamp retains the local traditional materials and features, blending them with contemporary living to create luxurious, functional spaces practical for modern life and gently reflecting the taste of the current occupant. It’s a trend that encompasses what came before and doesn’t try to obliterate it. Some of the best examples can be found in the municipalities of Küsnacht, Zollikon and Erlenbach, although Helvetic Innenarchitektur has spread along the coast to estates in Herrliberg, Meilen, Uetikon am See and Männedorf.
What’s the style?
The style has been described as Scandi meets Le Corbusier, but it’s much more complicated than that. There is a general purist feeling respecting simple designs created with natural sustainable materials. Expect to see stone and wood that draw nature in, and clever use of light and vistas to push living areas out towards the exquisite Swiss landscape. Above all, expect textures, colors and forms that fuse the charms of the building with the needs of the occupier, creating cohesive, subtle luxury whilst enhancing the original character of the building. The core of the style is about reimagining what exists to make it more Swiss – not overlaying an imported fashion! In essence, expect a style that reflects you and your building, whether it be a home, office, restaurant or hotel, it will be bespoke to you and the space around you.
How do I create the look?
The best way to refurbish anything from a single room to your entire building is to contact me or one of the Innenarchitekten design studios in Zürich and get professional inspiration on what could be achieved. We all have the education, skills and experience needed to understand your needs as well as what the building wants. We can save you from expensive mistakes, add value to the property and, most importantly, make you happy to be there!