Norrköping Unpacked: Exploring Sweden’s Coolest City

Norrköping Unpacked: Exploring Sweden’s Coolest City

The Oppermann brothers, co-founders of luggage brand Carl Friedrik, take us on a culture-rich tour of Sweden’s coolest city, sharing their favourite breakfast spots, must-visit boutiques and where to party like a local

argue that accessories make or break an outfit. Whether
you’re running errands or dashing through passport control, your
bag of choice matters. Nobody wants to be that person spilling bits
and bobs out of their tote – we’ve all been there. If you haven’t
already heard of luggage brand Carl Friedrik,
let us introduce you to the game changers of accessories – the
experts in laptop sleeves, briefcases, weekender bags and

We caught up with the brand’s co-founders, brothers Niklas and
Mattis, to talk about what inspired them to create Carl Friedrik
and what’s to come. When the dynamic duo aren’t busy drawing up new
lines and sourcing materials, you’ll likely find them recharging in
their hometown, Norrköping. Here, they give us the inside scoop on
the stylish Swedish city, taking us inside the best craft
breweries, must-visit galleries and letting us in on where the
locals hang on a Friday night.

Design museums and vintage boutiques: in conversation with Carl
Friedrik’s co-founders

Carl Friedrik, Chocolate Carry-On

Carl Friedrik rover bag collection, left, and their carry on

What inspired you to start Carl Friedrik?

N: The story of Carl Friedrik really starts with my brother,
Mattis. It was a special occasion and I wanted to gift him a
leather laptop case – one that had the right blend of quality,
craftsmanship and value for money, and that wasn’t obscured by
excessive branding. I couldn’t find an item that offered exactly
what I was after. We’ve always been curious about making our own
things, so it was natural for us to start designing our own items.
From that day on, Carl Friedrik, or Oppermann London, as it was
originally called, was born.

What sets you apart from other luggage brands?

M: An unwavering commitment to quality. Suitcases aren’t
typically handled with care and have a relatively short lifespan as
a result. Our designs incorporate high-impact-resistant
polycarbonate shells and sturdy aluminium frames, and they are
tested rigorously to imitate a lifetime’s-worth of use. That’s why
we confidently offer a lifetime guarantee across our entire

What did growing up in Norrköping look like?

M: My overriding memory is of time spent fishing and boating on
Lake Yxningen. It’s renowned for its clear water, with visibility
up to a depth of 7m. I still find the same serenity there today as
I did as a small child.

What’s Norrköping’s vibe?

M: Dubbed “the Manchester of Sweden”, Norrköping was once a
thriving industrial hub, but today the city has a much calmer and
quieter attitude. With three postcard-worthy promenades and the
Motala cutting through the centre of the city, it makes for a great
long-weekend destination. The city also has a thriving cultural
scene, with music and arts events taking place year-round.

When’s the best time to visit?

N: If you can handle cold (and we mean seriously cold) weather,
visit early in the year. The frozen river winding through the city
is almost surreal and blissfully beautiful. A Swedish winter’s
tranquillity is something everyone should experience.

Where should we stay?

M: The
Lamp Hotel
– it’s legendary. The 18th-century building has
recently undergone a renovation, with original features retained
and contemporary furnishings added. Slip into the state-of-the-art
spa, tuck into Swedish-Asian plates and enjoy a nightcap at the

Norrköping, Sweden
Norrköping, Sweden

The city’s architecture, left, and a tram.

Where should we head for breakfast?

N: Grab a coffee and traditional pastry from Kafé
. If the weather’s good, take an early-morning stroll
along the Motala, where you will see locals fishing for salmon.

And for dinner…

N: Boca
is a charming Italian pizzeria that takes traditional recipes and
puts a contemporary spin on them. It’s often described as a meeting
place where the vibe of the outdoor dining scene in Paris and Milan
meets the attitude of Copenhagen. There’s a real sense of community
and locality – the chefs even invite guests into the kitchen to
customise their own pizza.

Any must-visit nightlife spots?

M: Lagerqvist. The underground gastro-style restaurant is
tucked away in an 18th-century brandy vault. After dark, the dining
area turns into a dance floor flooded with local party people. It’s
the cocktail menu that has us returning, though. My personal
favourite is the smooth and floral – a Jamaican rum-based short


An experimental cocktail, left, and some freshly baked
Swedish pastries.

Cultural musts in the neighbourhood?

N: Art lovers should visit Norrköping
Art Museum
– the home of one of Sweden’s largest collections of
modernist art. The city is also famous for having some 7,000 unique
petroglyphs (rock engravings), with most dating back to the Bronze
Age. Himmelstalund Park is our favourite place to see them. Lastly,
The Museum
of Work
is a great place to discover the city’s industrial
heritage. It’s located in the Strykjärnet (Flat Iron) building, a
former cotton mill that is arguably Norrköping’s most iconic

What are the best independent shops to visit?

M: Stroll around the city and you will find the streets brimming
with independent boutiques, including Prylo,
which specialises in vintage clothing from the 50s to 70s. Foodies
should take a trip out of town to Sänkdalens
farm, where there is a delicious organic ice-cream

Any artisans that are doing cool things in Norrköping?

N: Olséns Auktioner showcases a range of beautiful
antiques. Selling everything from jewellery to trench coats, coffee
tables and lamps, it’s the sort of place you visit and can’t help
but spend an entire afternoon rummaging through its shelves. I
actually used to work there while I was studying. It definitely
shaped my respect for timeless design.

Swedish Lake

The Museum of Work, left, and a secluded lake.

Any suggestions for day trips?

N: Take an hour’s drive east from the city to the seaside
village of Arkösund. If you’re visiting in the warmer months, rent
a kayak or explore the coastline by hopping on one of the boat
tours. Then, head to Lykke for enormous scoops of ice cream. Motor
enthusiasts, meanwhile, should carve time to visit Autorema, which
specialises in renovating vintage sports cars – you can even take
one out for a test drive.

Tell us a secret spot only locals know about.

M: It has to be Knäppingen. Housed in an old townhouse in the heart of
the industrial district, the deli and craft brewery was dreamed up
by four brothers. It’s incredibly relaxed and not the sort of place
you’d visit for stunning interiors, but bag a table in the upstairs
microbrewery and prepare to taste some of Sweden’s finest craft
beer. It’s well worth booking onto one of the tasting tours, too,
where you can try five different types of beer and learn about the
manufacturing process. It also serves food: the house burger is up
there as one of the top three I’ve ever tasted in my life – and
that is a serious statement.

And lastly, what’s next for Carl Friedrik?

N: Lots of exciting things are happening behind the scenes at
Carl Friedrik HQ. We’re set to release two co-branded products in
the coming weeks, both of which are partnerships with brands that
we are truly inspired by. We’re also looking to kick 2023 off with
bang. New materials, lines and products are in the pipeline, so
keep your ears pricked and eyes peeled.

A fisherman's hut in West Sweden

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