A continental department store

When K M Lundberg, Stockholm’s most successful retailer in the later decades of the 1800s, decided to gather his operations under a single roof, the result was Stockholm’s first continental-style department store. The building was based on drawings by Erik Josephson, who was quickly becoming Stockholm’s most popular architect and was also responsible for the design of the Daneliuska Building on the other side of Stureplan, the Grand Hotel in Saltsjöbaden and Skandinaviska Kredit’s palatial bank premises on Stora Nygatan in Gamla Stan. The facade was adorned with an extravagant mixture of styles that did not conform with conventional rules and style ideals. The building was inspired by medieval castles along the Loire, renaissance palaces in Venice, baroque churches in Germany and department stores like Printemps and La Samaritaine in Paris – with a domed tower reaching 40 meters toward the sky. The building was inaugurated on September 25, 1898.

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The concept of gathering everything a well-to-do family could possibly need when it comes to clothing and design under a single roof was relatively new to Stockholm. This was a place where the growing middle class could buy clothing and decorate their homes according to the latest trends. The interior of the building was as modern as the exterior was historical, featuring customer and freight elevators, central heating and an internal phone system. The top three floors originally housed a hotel, which was soon moved to make way for the growing retail business.

The initial heyday of the department store at Stureplan was short-lived. In 1902, Lundberg joined forces with his main competitor, Joseph Sachs, who had recently taken over the retail business of his grandfather Joseph Leja. In a short time, Sachs transformed Leija’s sleepy, old-fashioned “dollar stores” into a modern business capable of attracting Stockholm’s new elite. The merged company was given the neutral name of Nordiska Kompaniet (NK).

The building at Stureplan underwent its first major renovations, turning K M Lundberg’s department store into NK. The renovations were overseen by the most popular architect of the time – Ferdinand Boberg.

After the merger, Lundberg eventually withdrew from the company and Sachs became the principal owner. He borrowed money and brought in new owners in order to build a new, grand department store. When the new NK on Hamngatan, designed by none other than Ferdinand Boberg, opened its doors in 1915, the department store on Stureplan was closed.

 

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