The Noak Family: Sara, Martin and Olof
A look at a contemporary beehive through the lens of the family that lives there.
Once upon a time a girl from Leganés (Madrid) and a boy from the Swedish countryside met in Oporto. He was trying to get to the Antarctic in a sailboat (a crusade he actually achieved) and they fell in love. Years later they settled in Poblenou, a former industrial neighborhood next to the sea in Barcelona. A district which is a melting pot of cultures and that makes them feel at home.
When walking around the barrio with the couple they chit-chat with everyone. They actually know everybody, perhaps because they are social animals or maybe because they live and work here. They own Noak Room, a store selling the most incredible Scandinavian vintage furniture. Sara and Martin share the beautiful sunny upstairs apartment with their son Olof, a 4-year-old who loves drawing and playing with his cherished Playmobils.
You can feel the coziness as soon as you cross the threshold. The abundant plants that they treasure make it feel as though you are in a miniature jungle. They have an emotional bond with them. You can see it in the way they worry about their sick giant cactus and their sorrow for the fruit trees that haven’t managed to thrive on the terrace. Olof has inherited this love of all things green and adores helping his Swedish grandma in the garden.
Martin was raised on a farm and has a strong connection with nature. Sara was more of a city girl, but she also has fond memories of summer holidays in Extremadura. She remembers the heat, the fifty shades of brown earth and a buzz which sounded like a mantra: the bees belonging to the amateur beekeeper of the family, her grandpa.
The place where they live is filled with amazing stuff; vintage pieces found by Martin on his frequent trips to the north. Their home is an extension of their shop: “I wouldn’t have any professional credibility if I didn’t have a house where each piece of furniture and each decorative element is beautiful”, says Sara. Their apartment is like a showroom where you can see and touch their beautiful pieces in a homey context: wooden chests, one-of-a-kind chairs, ceramics… They are always playing around with their stuff, moving things from one place to the other. Martin jokes about how Olof reacts every time he gets home from school and realizes that something has changed or gone.
Unlike other Barcelonians they like to entertain at home: “Many Spaniards aren’t in the habit of inviting people to their house because they don’t feel comfortable with their homes”, says Sara. Maybe it is the Swedish factor that means they love to entertain; inviting people over, organizing parties, creating a unique atmosphere. Sara likes to light candles, buy fresh flowers (lavender, tulips) and set the table with special crockery.
The three of them love their Mediterranean life here but they can’t help feeling nostalgic when they talk about Sweden. They miss fishing in the lake, planting zucchinis and enjoying the pure happiness of living close to nature and getting their hands dirty in the wet soil. They daydream about living there for a while but in the meantime, they are more than happy to create their own garden at home.
Concept & production: Fantastic Mr Nilsson @fantasticmrnilsson
Art direction & styling: Mafer Navas @mafernavas
Photography: Cecilia Díaz Betz @cecilidiazbetz
Video production: Eli Apezteguia @eliapezteguia
Editor: Txell Hernández Gil @txell_hg
Styling assistant: Amanda Gómez
Special thanks to Noak Family @noakroom