Swedish Photographer and journalist Ida Magntorn’s beautiful aesthetics is reflected in all her work. She captures the play of light in interiors, resulting in poetic images reminiscent of 19th century Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi’s paintings. In her book Home Style by City she profiles homes in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Copenhagen, and her latest book “Ett Hem med Omtanke” has a strong focus on sustainability and caring for our environment. Her work has also been featured in Swedish and international newspapers and magazines such as The Guardian and New York Magazine among others. With lots of projects on hand at the moment, let’s get to know this multi talented photographer a little better.
Photo of Ida Magntorn by Jenny Leyman.
How did you get into the field of photography? Why interiors?
I started as a journalist specializing in interiors and antiques with various assignments as an editor. I worked a lot with lifestyle magazines and newspapers, and I still do. I have always had the good fortune to work with very talented photographers, with the best I would say – and I learned a lot about photography, light and composition.
You have now published 5 books, how did the idea for the first one come about?
In 2010 I published my first book – it was all about antiques. I was interested in the stories behind the design of old pieces and furniture, like the painting on beautiful porcelain for example, who made them, what inspired them?
Then my interest grew towards interiors and decorating and the composition of a room. What makes a room personal and harmonious, beautiful and peaceful? What creates a good atmosphere?
So I brought my camera along and went to major metropolitan cities: Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles and Copenhagen. I met very interesting people and I had the privilege of being invited to their homes.
As I got to shoot very interesting homes, at the same time I examined the cities. The architecture, the atmosphere, the way the light played on the facades. Since then I have published four more books, one of them is translated into both English and German.
Your latest book Ett Hem med Omtanke, was released last year. Could you tell us what this book is about?
In my latest book I have added a new focus – which becomes more and more important, and it is all about how to relate to sustainability and environmental awareness while creating a beautiful home. I have done a lot of research and there are a lot of facts in the book but it is also filled with inspiration and beautiful pictures to attract people and to inspire them towards environmental thinking and to care about our planet.
Sustainability seems to be an important factor for you, how do you apply this to your own home?
My home is furnished with old pieces. Some things which I have inherited, and others which I have found at auctions or at second hand stores. And this is something everybody can do. You do not need to have a specific style to create a home with second hand furniture. Everything is already produced, even expensive Danish classics or an entire kitchen interior, just look at auctions or on the internet and you will find what you want.
What is most important when photographing homes and interiors?
I am interested in light. How the light falls. The change in a room when daylight breaks through. How the shadows play. Reflections. I am fascinated by classical painting and masters of light such as the Dutch painter Vermeer and the Danish Hammershøi. For me it is also important not to arrange too much, I love a documentary touch, and having the feeling that somebody has just left the room.
What in your opinion is the most important factor in a home interior?
Not to overload. Often it is better to put away things than to add. If you do add something let it be plants, they give a room life, energy and comfort. Try to have open areas to let air and energy circulate. Create a comfortable place where it is easy to meet, to sit down together.
You have spent the past months in Paris, what have you been working on there?
I am inspired by this beautiful and fantastic city. I love the architecture, and I always look for small hidden places, they trigger my fantasy and bring stories to life, and I love storytelling.
Right now I am working on an exhibition for L’Association Artistique Suédoise opening on the 15th of November here in Paris. And I am also working with an artistic mission with a Parisian theme for a big Swedish company, which will have to be a secret until the end of this year!
You were recently in South Korea, tell us about that.
I had the honour to be invited to the Swedish embassy in Seoul, South Korea for an exhibition together with sculptor Karin Wiberg. It was a fantastic experience.We had the opportunity to show our artwork at the Swedish residence, a beautiful house with a big garden in the northern part of Seoul. We had the most inspiring presentation and an Art Talk for about 50 guests. This led to an excellent contact with gallery Atelier Aki for future exhibitions in Seoul.
In Seoul we were also working with the newly established Korean + Sweden Young Design Award. An award where sustainability is one of the main criteria. A very creative collaboration with the Korean Institute for Design Promotion, Svensk Form, the Swedish Institute and Ikea. I am very much looking forward to the continuing process.
If there was a dream project, what would it be?
The project in my dreams right now is that I would love to write and illustrate a book of secret Paris. All the hidden treasures that I have found and examined during the last six months. Letting my mind flow, giving people poetic dreams. At the same time giving good ideas for sustainability – as I think in some ways, not all, Parisians are ahead of us. In brief the mix that I love – poetical, inspirational, and at the same time good advice for the planet and our future. This can be discussed both by my art and by inspiring books.
What are you working on now?
Apart from the exhibition in Paris in November and the collaboration with a big Swedish company that I am not able to reveal yet, I am working on an exhibition and Art Walk for an upcoming new city district. It is built around Technical and International Institutions like ESS and MAX Lab in Lund. 40,000 new residents are expected to settle here. The walk explores the encounter between people and nature and art when cities develop. The aim is to create questions and initiate dialogues about who we are and where we are heading. Main subject: how do we want to develop our future society? This is a collaboration between Lund University, Lund municipality, Karin Wiberg and me. I have also been invited to do the interior of an experimental eco-cycle shelter, a refugee residence that is ecologically sustainable both in material choice and operation. This is part of a zero carbon research project done by Professor Marwa Dabaieh. Both of these will open on the 15th of September in Brunnshög in Lund.
Photo of Ida Magntorn by Jenny Leyman.