Hôtel de Marle’s Hidden Rooms at l’Institute Suédois

Visitors have the chance to choose the next color of the stairwell walls #l'Institute Suédois

Planning a visit during Paris Design Week? Consider a visit the Institute Suédois (Swedish Culture Institute) in the future. If the your timing is right, you can visit apartments, that until now were hidden to me. The institute offers a free, guided visit (English is available) of their residence apartments for visiting Swedish artists and researchers. After 50 years, the apartments in the 16th century town house (hôtel particulier) have undergone a major renovation.

For a group of eight, you can take a guided visit until October 13, of residential apartments in the Hôtel de Marle in the Marais. The tours are usually given in French. If you wish another language, like English, show up an hour before. Tours are Wednesday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 4pm. Go to reception at 3 pm and request an English tour. The Swedish Institute will arrange a guide for the exhibition “Hem fois 6” (Feel at home in 6 different apartments). There is a café in the courtyard while you wait. The tour is part of the “Swedish Design Moves” event to increase awareness of Swedish design in architecture, fashion and furniture. 

Why would you want to make this visit? 

The apartments for Swedish artists and researchers were redesigned, renovated and reopened in 2019. This year they have 205 candidates for six apartments. Artists have been competing for a short-term apartment since the 1970’s.

What you will see?

Beginning in the back garden next to the bush with the sound of water gurgling (actually a work of art with recorded sound) you enter side doors rarely opened to the public. Passing through the auditorium, a narrow staircase of wood planks and “tommette” (pentagon-shaped terra cotta tiles). Each room has a number and a phrased title, for example: “Murmure de couture” (Sewing whispers) or “Une chambre à soi” (Your own room).

Exterior of the Hôtel de Marle; visitors on a tour

Each room has a piece of furniture that has been in use for the past 50 years. The item (perhaps a chair, a lamp, a tray or a chest) becomes the core example for the design of the room.

Which way does the window open: outward or inward?

Designs sometimes come with small design flaws; the Swedish apartment designers were no exceptions. They did not take into consideration windows. French windows open inward in case one has a balcony; Swedish windows open outward.

One of the apartment rooms, Swedish designers planned for outward opening windows

The present layout design in some rooms (thinking of curtains and tables) call for user adaptability. This does not detract from the overall crispness of the apartments. If you like clever design (consider their use of tables in several of the rooms). A table is divided into two: One for working by the window, the other half the dining table for two. Put them together and you have a dining table for six. Each room has a different design for color, layout, kitchen, bath, closets. They range in size from 22 m2 to 38 m2.

“Swedish Design Moves” is a program that aims at increasing the international awareness of Swedish design, including the branches of architecture, fashion and furniture. The overall goal is to increase the number of visitors to Sweden interested in design as well as exports of Swedish design.

The program is led by Visit Sweden and is part of a Swedish governmental initiative.” https://swedishdesignmoves.com. Visit the apartments  exhibition “Hem fois 6” (Feel like home in 6 different apartments) until October 13  https://paris.si.se/en/. Tours are Wednesday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 4pm. Go to reception at 3 pm and request an English tour.

Institute Suédois

33 1 44 78 80 20
11 rue Payenne
75003 Paris
Métro: Saint Paul-Le Marais (line 1) and Chemin Vert (line 8)
Bus: 29, 69, 76 et 96
Vélib: rue de la Perle, rue Saint-Gilles
Opening hours:
Wednesday – Sunday / 12:00 – 18:00
Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The Café Suédois :
Tuesday – Sunday / 12:00 – 18:00
Closed on Mondays

  • Exterior of the Hôtel de Marle; visitors on a tour
  • One of the apartment rooms, Swedish designers planned for outward opening windows
  • Lightweight Gärnäs and Färg & Blanche designed chair with bendable back
  • Lightweight Gärnäs and Färg & Blanche designed chair with bendable back
  • Renaissance architect and carpenter, Philippe Delorme, is known for the rounded rooftop design
  • Reflective garden view from apartment "Murmure de couture"
  • Kitchen view of apartment "Murmure de couture"
  • Rooftop view from apartment "Murmure de couture"
  • Cover of Hem fois 6 Swedish Design Moves Paris l'Institute Suédois in Paris
  • Poet and painter, Greta Knutson inspired the design of the apartment "Une chamber à soi"; the chair "Karin" has resided at the Institute since 1971
  • View of "One chambre à soi"
  • Book of works by Greta Knutson Tzara
  • Drawing by works by poet and modern artist, Greta Knutson Tzara
  • Visitors have the chance to choose the next color of the stairwell walls #l'Institute Suédois
  • Tray from 50 years ago, with a book about Philibert Delorme and other objects #l'Institute Suédois
  • Collage of Hotel de Marle's history with illustrations, photos of artists who resided here; receipts and illustrations
  • Door leading to Svenskt Tenn/Josef Frank room; philosophy of Estrid Ericsson "A philosophy and its interior"#l'Institute Suédois
  • Svenskt Tenn/Josef Frank apartment l'Institute Suédois
  • Svenskt Tenn/Josef Frank apartment l'Institute Suédois
  • Hotel de Marle windows that open
  • Hotel de Marle false windows to hide an office
  • Historical marker Hotel de Marle Institute Suédois
  • l'Institute Suédois entry - sign for Journées du patrimoine

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