Blame IKEA. Or Abba. With good reason, people are often wary of Swedish style. The country's two best-known acronyms have became world-famous for products—from sofa beds to pop songs—that are clever, reliable, and entirely disposable. But a shopping spree in the capital shows there's more to Sweden than crowd-pleasers. The starting point for any Stockholm shopper is Hamngatan. This street is home to the country's best department store, NK (18-20 Hamngatan; 46-8-762-8000), which sits next to the stylish and laughably affordable clothing emporium H&M. The juxtaposition of high and low seems to sum up the attitude of Swedes, who love to undercut a top-tier designer coat or suit from NK—a sort of Barneys-on-the-Baltic—with a T-shirt from H&M. Beyond the playful, there are plenty more serious and discerning places to shop.
For the Home
MODERNITY A visit here doubles as a crash course in 20th-century design. The store's Scottish owner, Andrew Duncanson, scours Europe to find original pieces of postwar design, most of them Scandinavian and in extremely good condition. From Denmark, for instance, come Arne Jacobsen's 1955 Tongue chair ($2,325) and the famous Artichoke lamp by Poul Henningsen ($3,575). We particularly like the store's swinging-sixties bent—the fiberglass Pastille chairs by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio ($1,010 each), which resemble brightly colored UFOs, are great fun. At 6 Sibyllegatan; 46-8-20-80-25; www.modernity.se.
NORDISKA GALLERIET Unlike Modernity, this former car showroom sells newly made versions of the best contemporary and classic designs. Most reissues are of famous, almost iconographic, pieces, such as the Barcelona chair by Mies van der Rohe ($6,430) and the 1956 Lounge Chair and Ottoman by Ray and Charles Eames ($8,115). But the store also carries many lesser-known and delightfully witty creations, including Ingo Maurer's Campari light ($410), which uses ten Campari soda bottles to form a scarlet lampshade, and Philippe Starck's Gnome tables ($180). You can still buy Swedish automobiles here, too: In one corner is a child's beautifully streamlined wooden toy Saab ($290). At 11 Nybrogatan; 46-8-442-8360; www.nordiskagalleriet.com.
ORREFORS KOSTA BODA Sweden's top two glass companies share a crystal palace on the most label-heavy shopping street in town, close to Gucci, Versace, and Louis Vuitton. While Kosta Boda concentrates on colorful, artistic pieces, such as an apple-shaped globe of swirling blue and green ($545), Orrefors focuses on clear vases and stemware. Stockholm-trained designer Erika Lagerbielke created two of Orrefors' most popular lines: Intermezzo glasses ($25-$30 each) have a drop of sapphire glass in their stems; Difference stemware ($20-$35 each) comes in models called Fruit, Crisp, Sweet, and Mature to match the wine you're drinking. At 15 Birger Jarlsgatan; 46-8-545-040-8; www.kostaboda.com, www.orrefors.com.
Paper and Textiles
BOOKBINDERS Disregard the company's peculiar slogan: "Anything is possible when you have a bookbindery." This is the place for anyone who wants a bit more style in his stationery. Bookbinders makes its paper according to traditional methods in far-from-ordinary colors such as Pepper Gray, Fifties Green, Iris Purple, and Curry. With outposts all over Europe, the company is particularly popular with architects and artists, who snap up copies of the Totally Black Book with black pages and covers ($18), flower-embossed notebooks by designer Lotta Glave ($38), and calfskin photo albums ($180). At 20 Norrlandsgatan 20; 46-8-545-03-581; www.bookbindersdesign.com.
SVENSKT TENN Founded in 1924, this shop is a Swedish institution—not to mention the best-known interiors store in the country—in large part because of its range of fabrics designed by Josef Frank, a Viennese architect who became the company's chief designer in 1934. His 40 brightly colored patterns still in production remain bestsellers, either sold by the bolt (cotton is $90 a meter, linen $135), fashioned into tea cozies or lampshades, or used as upholstery for the huge Liljevach sofa, designed the year Frank took the helm. The store's waterfront location and its several showrooms (which are usually draped in bold, colorful textiles) make it a popular place to visit, regardless of whether you happen to be in the market for an oversized Josef Frank handbag ($95). At 5 Strandvägen; 46-8-670-16-00; www.svenskttenn.se.
ROBERT E'S CHOKLAD Robert E (for Eriksson) runs the best little chocolate shop and café in town, located on the island of Kungsholmen, a short walk from the center. It's a family affair: While his father bakes glorious breads, cakes and cookies, Robert crafts the 35 to 40 truffles and pralines, including those flavored with saffron, ginger, vodka, anise, juniper-berry-and-gin, and the best-selling cardamom (about $1 each). For serious chocolate lovers, Robert teaches evening master classes in chocolate making ($75 for three hours, which are normally in Swedish but can be conducted in English for a small group). At Polhemsgatan 15; 46-8-650-4523; www.roberteschoklad.com.
OSTERMALMSHALLEN There are three great food markets in Stockholm. The Hötorget and Medborgarplatsen markets have first-class food, but nothing beats the grandeur of Östermalmshallen, a soaring red-brick building with dozens of stalls selling the freshest food in the city. After watching the dazzling fishmongers at work, make your way to Lisbeth Janson's stand for cardamom ice cream and lingonberry sorbet ($5). The market's several bistros, wine bars, and cafés make it a popular lunch spot. At Östermalmstorg.
J.LINDEBERG and FILIPPA K The first names of Swedish fashion, J. (short for Johan) Lindeberg and Filippa K (for Kihlborg) have stores just doors away from each other. Menswear designer J.Lindeberg sells hip urban clothing such as artfully distressed denim jackets ($425) and chunky leather belts ($95) out of his rough-hewn store with its bare concrete floor and rock music playing on the stereo. Filippa K's mostly monochromatic designs are displayed in calmer surroundings, with a dimly lit corridor connecting the store's men's and women's collections. Look for her slate-gray tailored shirts for men ($85) and simple, asymmetric black evening dresses ($145). J.Lindeberg: 9 Grev Turegatan; 46-8-678-61-65; www.jlindeberg.com. Filippa K: 18 Grev Turegatan; 46-8-615-7000; www.filippa-k.com.
LARS WALLIN Thankfully, Lars Wallin has resisted the urge to become Lars W. or L. Wallin. His by-appointment-only atelier, complete with a Champagne bar in the pink-and-white showroom, is undoubtedly one of Stockholm's chicest. All his bespoke evening dresses and bridal gowns, which start at about $3,000, are made on the premises. And his way of combining traditional tailoring with a wholly modern sense of cut and color has won him many fans, including Crown Princess Victoria. For several years Wallin has shared offices and traded inspiration with the jewelry designer Lisen Stibeck; he now displays and sells her exuberant creations alongside his own. Stibeck has a loyal following in her own right—and though she won't name names, she does keep a framed photograph of Queen Silvia by her desk. At 19 Sibyllegatan; 46-8-545-69-707; www.larswallin.com.