In summer me and my family went for a day out to one of our favourite seaside destination – Whitstable. I always try and get a moment to myself so I could have a quick run around the local shops. This is where I have found a gem that is Scandinavian Touch, run by Marianne Ofstad. It was actually only their second day since opening but the shop looked very enticing and full of interesting brands, some of them I haven’t seen before.
Scandinavian Touch stocks a variety of Norwegian brands such as ceramics by Ment, Kristin Antonsen and Goform, lighting by a Norwegian brand Northern, furniture by Ygg & Lyng, as well as other Scandinavian brands – Danish glassware by Holme Gaard, Art tiles – Danish hand printed tiles, handmade rugs by Danish Linie Design, handsoap and cleaning products by Danish brand Humdakin, Danish handknits by Stinne Gorell, frames and shelving by Moebe and Swedish tiles by Marrakech!
I was keen to learn more from Marianne about her business, so I asked her a few questions.
Could you please tell me about Scandinavian Touch? I understand you are both a shop and an interior design practice?
Scandinavian Touch is an Interior design showroom with a shop located at 66 Oxford Street, Whitstable . The premise is designed like a home to give our customers a feel of what to expect we can design with them. The showroom is designed like a home to give our customers an idea of what to expect when we design for them. The shop is an opportunity for customers to see and feel what can be achieved within their homes.
What’s your background? You are Norwegian, did you run a similar business in Norway?
I am Norwegian and my sister and I have run our Interior design business in Norway for over 22 years. We have a 600 sqm showroom in Norway, one hours drive from Oslo. My sister is based in Norway now looking after the operations there and I travel between Norway and the UK focusing on our new venture in Whitstable.
What brought you to Whitstable? Do you like it here?
I love Whitstable and I know Whitstable because my soulmate lives there! I started coming to Whitstable 5 years ago and have been coming regularly since then. I love the town because of its uniqueness and the lovely people. I fell in love with my soulmate and the town so we decided to set up something special and different. We decided to bring our knowledge of Scandinavian design ideas to Whitstable as well as sell unique Scandinavian products and art at the shop .
I love the style of your shop. Scandinavian style is so distinctive and popular all over the world. Who are your clients here in the UK? Do you mainly work with local clients or from all over the country?
We work with clients all over the South East. We already have a number of customers locally and in other areas. We can work wherever we are needed .
How do they find out about you? How do you advertise?
We are new to Whitstable and have just recently started trading. We are on Facebook and Instagram at the moment. Our website is in development.
What are the challenges of running your design practice here in the UK compared to Norway?
I guess it’s like the challenges of setting up a new business in a new country . Luckily we have a great person in my partner who knows the area very well . The challenge we have is finding the right people / companies to work with at our standard. We have met some great people and we are currently working on establishing relationships with like minded companies and individuals.
Although distinctive, Scandinavian style can take many forms, how would you describe your personal design style?
We have varied design styles but we like to put our customers at the centre of the process for them to decide what suits their style and lifestyle. Then we can support that process working with the customer looking at all aspects of their lives together so they make an informed choice about the design ideas.
Your shop looks amazing and many of the brands you stock I’ve never seen anywhere else in the UK. What brands do you stock and why have you chosen them? Do you have personal connection to these brands?
We choose the brands we stock in the shop for our customers very carefully. We make sure they are suited to our customers, unique, practical, multi functional and stylish. We have worked with some of our suppliers for many years and trust their products. We are constantly looking for new ideas and products in the Scandinavian market to bring to our customers.
Can some of the products you stock be custom made to order?
Most of the products especially furnishings and furniture can be custom made and made to order in different colours, sizes etc. That’s the great attribute of Scandinavian design. Flexibility, practicality and simplicity but stylish.
And finally, are you planning to introduce an online shop at some point?
Yes we are working on the website and will incorporate online buying facilities.
Thank you Marianne so much for answering my questions, it’s been a pleasure.
Scandinavian Touch, 66 Oxford Street, CT5 1DG Whitstable