Just a warning, this post is rather heavy on pictures, but I hope you’ll forgive me as recently I had the pleasure of flying to Norway with the furniture company Ekornes, who make the luxury leather recliners and sofas known as ‘Stressless’.
During the trip I visited their factory, reached by boat through a stunning fjord, and the Ekornes Bua Showroom in the picturesque town of Alesund. The annual visit is organised by Ekornes to take a sizeable group of retailers – the people who sell their furniture all over the UK and beyond – to see the furniture being made and find out a bit more about the company. It’s a great opportunity to gain a unique insight into the manufacturing processes and an enhanced brand knowledge. Not to mention the chance to take in the sights and sample the delights that Norway has to offer.
The flight was just two hours from Gatwick and we spotted our first Stressless chair on arrival at the airport!
En route to our hotel, we paused at the mesmerising viewpoint, Mount Aksla. Leading down into the town from this vantage point are 418 steps and as you can see the panoramic view of the archipelago and town below was stunning.
This picture perfect town is filled with Art Nouveau buildings, and when I did a little research before the trip I discovered that this is because a devastating fire had taken hold in 1904 and much of the town had to be re-built, hence the architectural style seen today.
Before dinner, in the wonderful Anno restaurant where I ate delicious Monk fish, we paid our first visit to the Ekornes Bua showroom.
Spread over several floors means that it can showcase a huge range of Stressless recliners and furniture. The old fishing building is so characterful with a rustic wooden interior, making it an ideal backdrop to the furniture on display. We soon made ourselves comfy there – well, it would be rude not to!
Everyone tried not to have too late a night, as our schedule for the next day was extremely busy, but it was the England vs Iceland football match in the Euros, so most people ended up in the pub to watch. The clocks are an hour on from the UK and being so far north, even at midnight the sky was light – it was amazing! The sun dipped low down but didn’t disappear completely.
I even got up and looked out of my bedroom window at 2am and it was still light. Incredible! Our itinerary the following day meant we were up early for breakfast then off to the factory by boat. What a nice way to travel.
Inside there was a warm welcome from the company’s CEO, Olav Holst-Dyrnes, who also joined us for lunch later – after we were taken on a guided tour by a member of the Norway team. The factory uses a combination of handmaking techniques and cutting edge technology. The robots at the factory run 24 hours a day, carrying out very precise work and it was fascinating to see both the automated and handcrafted processes in action. With such a beautiful setting around the factory, you are reminded of its proximity to nature and the company is proud to work in harmony with the environment, using and recycling water from the fjord and manufacturing products in a sustainable manner.
In the afternoon we were back on the boat enjoying the beautiful scenery again.
It was almost like looking at a painted landscape and truly awe inspiring – the majestic rock formations and waterfalls, the deep colour of the water and breathing in the air, pure as snow. From the boat we took a short ride in vintage cars up to the Norwegian Fjord Centre, which is one of only a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Then on from the centre, we took a coach up Dalsnibba, the mountain at Geiranger, which is Europe’s highest fjord view by road – 1500m above sea level. The road closes from October until May due to the snowy conditions then. Luckily, we had great weather, so perfect views – which is not always the case! Although the country is known for heavy snowfalls, at this time of year it was sunny and green, with only a little snow on top of the mountains. Although I didn’t see one myself, there’s a chance you could spot eagles flying in the summer over Geiranger. Wow!
After our jam packed day, there was just time for a quick freshen up, then everyone headed back to the showroom for the final night, where a chef had prepared a wonderful meal for us. The atmosphere was really lovely and everyone was getting along so well – a reflection of the effort the Ekornes team had put in to making us all feel welcome and relaxed.
The next day we were heading home, but there was just time for breakfast and a pop back to the showroom, which luckily was just around the corner from the hotel. I took the chance to grab a few more photos and there was a fun quiz (do you know which Daniel Craig film a Stressless chair appears in?!)
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting back and relaxing in a Stressless recliner or sofa, you’ll know that the comfort level is unbelievable. The collections are always infused with that effortless Scandinavian style. They are simply classic and timeless – in fact if you look at an original 1971 Stressless recliner, it’s as cool looking today as it was back then!
The various options you can choose with a Stressless means that you can tailor your seating to you and there is a great choice of leathers in both bold, statement colours or soft muted tones. With innovations such as BalanceAdapt where you get a sensation of weightlessness as you recline, it really is the most amazing, quality furniture and the trip simply reinforced that for me. I loved Norway, too – I hope to go back one day (in fact I’ve already googled flights!) and take the family.
My huge thanks to Ekornes ‘Stressless’ for inviting me along as their blogger. Finally, here’s a little video I shot while I was there… hope you enjoy.