Matsson Marnell

Tell us about who you are and how you work.

We are Matsson Marnell, a design studio founded by Katarina Matsson and Magda Marnell. We’ve known each other for 25 years and since the first day of high school, we’ve shared a passion for expressing ourselves creatively and telling stories through form and color. Our professional backgrounds are in design journalism and fashion design, allowing us to approach spatiality and furniture quite freely – nothing is impossible. There’s a great deal of freedom in that.

Each project starts very intuitively, whether it’s an object or an interior, and then becomes more concrete. Perhaps you could say that the common thread is storytelling. When we create an interior, we look for the building blocks – or keywords – that connect the client with the space itself, whether it’s individuals or a brand.

Currently, we’re working a lot with wood, letting the material guide us. You could say we’re searching for the intersection where the refined, human hand meets the rawness of nature in perfect, or rather perfectly imperfect, harmony.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From materials, architecture, and places, but also from the emotions they evoke. When we take on a project, it’s very much about the atmosphere we want to create, so we build a bit of a fantasy world with images (we love Instagram), materials, and colors. Film, art, fashion, and music feel like such natural sources, but they’re of course present. Among the sources of inspiration for our latest furniture concept, Lin, were Blair Witch Project, Rapunzel, photographer Anton Corbijn, old Swedish folklore, hair rolls, Japanese horror films, and Greek composer Iannis Xenakis. Right now, we’re drawn to surrealism and artist Meret Oppenheim, fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli, and photographer Man Ray.

How would you describe your style?

Organic and earthy, yet refined and artistic. We like the concept of eclectic minimalism, where expressive elements have room to shine but are balanced by a subdued color palette, for example. We prefer to work with natural materials and colors, creating a very harmonious whole.

Aesthetics are…

The study of perception, especially the perception of beauty, the study of the sensual, the philosophy of art. Yep, we stole that straight from Wikipedia, but the sensual is fundamental to us. It’s what is felt but cannot be touched or confined to a box. Something sensed in the periphery but cannot be grasped by reason. Life’s poetry, simply put!

What characterizes an interesting interior according to you?

When someone has followed through and not compromised or adapted. Been attentive to the environment and based it on that and the client’s personality and needs. An interior becomes interesting when you feel the person behind it, personality, depth, and life. The most boring thing is when someone has simply applied a concept that has no connection to either the place or the person.

What are your top three tips for those creating a new home?

Start with who you are and what you like; it usually turns out well in the end. Recognizing this might need to be practiced for many years, but with the right help, you’ll get there faster.

“An interior becomes interesting when you feel the person behind it, personality, depth, and life.”

  1. Ask yourself: What feeling do you want to create? What story do you want to tell?
  2. Practically speaking, it’s good to create a mood board, both digitally and physically. As you gather images and material/color samples, the vision becomes clearer and clearer then it’s important not to deviate from it. Hold on and hang in there!
  3. Naturally, it’s also important to consider the functionality of the room, how it’s used, and what functions it should accommodate. There’s nothing worse than a home with impractical solutions that annoy you every day.

When it comes to visual aesthetics versus creating a feeling, how do you find the balance?

The two are closely intertwined for us, though the aesthetic and the practical sometimes clash. One important ingredient that not everyone thinks about is the tactile, which is one of the reasons we love natural materials. Their texture and subtle variations bring life to both hand and eye.

Do you have any advice on how to create a home with soul?

Once again: Start with who you are and what you like. Don’t try to replicate someone else’s home; start from the place and your/your needs. Decide on a few favorite items that really mean something to you, and build from there.

If someone is trying to find their interior style, how would you suggest they start? How did you find yours?

We always tune into the place. That’s why the style can look very different depending on the home. The 18th-century farmhouse has its personal style, with a base in earthy, Japanese wabi-sabi, and French countryside vibes. The turn-of-the-century apartment in the city is more eclectic, colorful, filled with art. But trying to define what makes you feel good is a good starting point.

“Don’t try to replicate someone else’s home; start from the place and your/your needs.”

Magda: Through experience and many years of practice, I’ve learned that I feel good in a calm and harmonious home environment, with a base in calm neutrals, where the eye and senses can rest, whereas in my work as a designer, I’m constantly in a creative and visual context.

Katarina: I’ve realized that I love surrounding myself with things that mean something to me: art, books, plants, flea market finds, heirlooms… That means I have to compensate with a color palette and placement to still create a restful context, and I need that. Like with almost everything, it’s about practice – go to art exhibitions, look in interior design books, and note what you’re intuitively drawn to. Soon you’ll notice a common thread – and then you should allow yourself to follow it! Buying second-hand furniture is also a good way to get to know your own taste, so go ahead and schedule your next thrift store visit! And yes, everyone makes mistakes in their purchases, just sell them or give them away.

Is there any advice for ensuring a home or space feels timeless rather than trendy?

Magda: If you’ve started from the place and the people who live there or will use it, you have a good starting point. Create a base of quality furniture and natural materials and trust your own taste. A home that brings to mind words like personal or cozy is almost by definition timeless – life that goes on and the people who live there are fundamental.

Katarina: My goal with all the interiors I work on is to create “a place outside time and space”. It shouldn’t be clearly located geographically or in time.

How do you know when a room is finished, if ever?

Magda: I like completing things and then letting them be. It might sound vague, but I listen to my gut feeling and intuition and feel that it’s finished. When you’ve achieved harmony between colors and materials, and of course incorporated all the functions the room requires: lighting, seating, etc.

Katarina: For me, interior design is more of an ongoing game; my own home will probably never be finished. There’s something incredibly comforting about a place that never changes; I think of my grandmother’s home in Hälsingland, but it doesn’t suit my personality. My husband puts up with it as long as we just rearrange furniture and don’t change homes. So it’s probably extra nice to finish things for others.

We’re always up for recommendations, do you have any?

Our latest obsession is Anaïs Nin’s hideaway in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, an incredible holistic concept where both architecture, interior design, and garden interact. A perfect example of the expressive minimalism we love!

Your favorite place is…

Magda: My countryside home. I love my clay-plastered untreated walls made from the neighbor’s cow dung, which reflect light like no other material, my wall painting in egg tempera made from another neighbor’s eggs, painted by our artist friend from Prague, Lucie Jindrak Skrivankova. And the tranquility outside: the forest close by, the silence, the sounds of all the animals, birds, and insects.

Katarina: I always miss New York where I lived during 2010–2013. And for a long time, my mental happy place was my childhood summer cottage in Hälsingland. Now my family and I have bought a ramshackle mission house in Roslagen, which so far has brought as many tears of joy as of panic (mold started growing on the walls…) but I know it will become our paradise.

What are you working on right now?

The interior design of an incredible 1960s villa in Segeltorp that exudes LA and Japanese onsen (bathhouse) vibes and the follow-up to our latest furniture collection Lin, which we showcased at the Furniture Fair this past February. It explores the boundary between fantasy and reality within a context of female experiences, with wood from the 18th century and linen.

We’ve received several orders for our plinths/side tables and have some exciting collaborations in the pipeline. And just a week ago, we moved into Misschiefs in Vasastan, a wonderful place and context to be in.

Who would you most like to visit?

They’re all dead, but Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, and Louise Bourgeois. And a standing invitation to Natalie Barney’s and Gertrude Stein’s salons in Paris in the 1920s.

What is your biggest source of inspiration?

If we’re only going to mention one person, we’ll say Georgia O’Keeffe.

Top three accounts that inspire you on Instagram:




Right now, we mostly like inspiration accounts that gather old interior images – sorry to all the photographers who’ve seen their copyright die, but it’s starting to get tiresome with all the images circling around year after year, so we’re happy to receive tips on more contemporary creators. In Sweden, we like Marie Olsson Nylander; she’s so good at creating her own world.

What do you offer through help in Talk To? If someone is interested in booking you, what does a consultation look like and what can they expect?

We can help with everything from comprehensive concepts based on personal style to art purchases or custom-made furniture.

Book a consultation with Matsson Marnell today!

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