Conversation with Micha van Dinther and Magnus Wittbjer
Gentle on the earth and ourselves - that's the way of life imparted at Type O Loft, a kind of vacation rental that seems like it came into existence right along with the land around it - a calming swath of Swedish countryside. Located on the top floor of the home and workspace of creative duo Micha van Dinther and Magnus Wittbjer, the airy, angular space with breathtaking views of Skåne is not only a breath of fresh air, it even has its own signature scent: an Aoiro fragrance, diffused throughout the space and inspired by a Japanese forest.
Type O started as an e-commerce store, selling a tightly curated selection of goods, from probiotic-based cleaning products to books (aptly, The Monocle Book of Gentle Living) to glass cubes containing botanicals, i.e. a swatch of bunny tail grass.
Today, you can engage with some of the products from the store while staying in the shoppable loft; let’s say you fell in love with that Read the Label bedding and can't stop thinking about it once home, then no worries… you can order it on the website. It's a true lifestyle brand, with its own online journal that features recipes, interviews with makers and seasonal Spotify playlists.
We caught up with Micha and Magnus about slowing down, contemporizing farmhouse life, and staying true and humble all along the way.
HOW DID YOU TWO FIRST CROSS PATHS?
Micha van Dinther: "It all started with us working for different advertising agencies in Stockholm - we met at work. Magnus is a copywriter and I am an art director. We were first partners in life but then we wanted to be partners in business - to reach a level of freedom that you can't really have when you're employed traditionally. Our first business idea was a typographic poster – that’s how we ended up with the name Type O by the way – that we did for fun. It was a series of five cocktails with recipes and the stories behind them. We contacted a design department store in Stockholm to see if they’d be interested, and they bought the whole lot right then. At the time, businesses were coveting limited edition, handmade prints on high-quality paper for their walls. And because they kept wanting more and we had to reprint, in 2016, we decided to open an e-commerce store and curate a selection of items."
Magnus Wittbjer: "It started as a side-hustle, handpicking goods by different designers and craftsmen and niche brands, introducing them to our followers. We'd work at the agencies, commute to our home to Malmö by 8, have dinner, and start packing orders to be shipped out."
One of the first TypeO posters
WHAT ELSE MADE THE CUT TO BE IN THE STORE?
MW: "Our second brand was an American/Japanese brand, called Hasami Porcelain. We were the first to bring their line of dinnerware to the Scandinavian consciousness."
MVD: "We brought in a very small Belgium brand that makes linen tablecloths, bedding, some really beautiful wool and cashmere throws. We feature some handpicked books and vintage items as well. We have a beautiful circular light sculpture that is called Eclipse by Tilen Sepič, an artist based in Berlin.
"Basically, we come across goods in our travels that fit the aesthetic profile that we have, that aren't mass produced, and are made of high-quality materials that get better with time. And usually there's a sustainable approach to creating the work or the pieces, like for instance, the Boiida towels, which are made of organic linen, which has a longer life span than cotton, and uses less natural resources when growing the crops."
AT WHAT POINT DID IT CHANGE FROM SIDE HUSTLE TO FULL-TIME?
MW: "When brands started contacting us and hiring us to do the storytelling and the marketing that we do for our own store, but for them. There was a new kitchen manufacturer that launched at Stockholm design week called cupboards and goods. We did their branding, their websites and the whole package basically. A manufacturer of high-quality fabrics in Stockholm called Astrid - we do a lot of their content as well. And we helped launch relaunch a brand in Belgium called Domani, who does beautiful pots and planters."
WHAT MADE YOU LEAVE MALMÖ FOR SKÅNE?
MVD: "We were fed up with city life, exhausted mentally and physically. I was traveling 250 days out of the year."
MW: "We started looking for a place where we could land, regroup and reinvent ourselves in our life. We were looking for the right house more than the right place, and when Micha found the farmhouse, the very first image spoke to us."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE, SEEING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME?
MVD: It was like stepping into a church, all white, high ceilings, lot of light. It was built in 1842 and was a feudal farm and used to be part of a nearby castle. The family that lived here before us had to redo it from scratch, because the ground floor was where animals lived and it was mostly mud and clay."
WHAT ADDITIONS ARE YOU RESPONSIBLE FOR?
MW: "We spruced it up and added space to the entrance area, with the black and glass facade. Then we basically cut the space in half, making a loft floor and gaving it its own private entrance, kitchen and bathroom. We live and work on the bottom floor."
THE DESIGN PIECES HAVE AN ECLECTIC FEEL. WHAT'S IN THE MIX?
MVD: "The leather Togo sofa is vintage. There's a brass side table that's vintage from the sixties. A Noguchi coffee table. We were super glad to be working with a local lighting company called Rubn. The factory is in the middle of nowhere, but he is designing and selling them all over the world. And we also teamed up with a bed manufacturer called Dux. And we had a Western Swedish kitchen manufacturer called Nordiska Kok custom-make the kitchen for us. It's the smallest kitchen they have ever made. I think the common denominator is the earthy, neutral color scheme and the quality of materials."
WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOUR EXPERIENCE IN ADVERTISING INFORMED YOUR FORAY INTO THE VACATION RENTAL BUSINESS?
MVD: "In design school and advertising, it was always important to think about why you did things, not just do it. Since we've traveled a lot, we thought about what we appreciated from hospitality experiences and what we didn't, and tried to implement accordingly. For example, upon check-in, local produce is stocked in the kitchen for our guests to get going in the morning: fresh eggs from the farm around the corner, dairy products from a micro-dairy farm here, a sourdough, which we put in the fridge that they just bake when they wake up in the morning. That way, guests can get up whenever they want and they serve themselves whenever they feel like it. So that's basically, and people really love that because they can be completely on their own schedule. They don't have to go out or do much, and it's not like a breakfast room that is only open between 7-10am."
IT MUST HAVE REALLY ALL COME TOGETHER BY MAKING THE LOFT A RETAIL SPACE AS WELL. HOW DOES THAT WORK?
MVD: "We always emphasize that we're not trying to push products on people - there are no price tags on anything. We ourselves love simply love these things and we want to share all of it: this house, this location, all our favorite things. Our hope is that people will actually use the products and connect with them organically. Maybe find something that they too love and that they too want to bring back home to their place."
WHAT’S IT LIKE OUT THERE?
MW: "It’s quiet and rejuvenating. We go running and cycling. There’s a forest behind the house – you can go foraging for mushrooms, berries, and wild garlic. We watch the seasons change - something that we are now hyper-sensitive to."
To book a stay at Type O Loft, click here.