Austere is very orderly, and unequivocally Scandinavian. Not exclusively a shop nor gallery, what hits you is the open space and minimal layout of clothes and curiosities. Austere’s founder, Swedish native Fredrik Carlstrom says the impetus for Austere came to him when he began to imagine the physical space, “As if a lifestyle magazine with all my favorite things had come to life”. The Downtown space is a 5,000 square foot retail store and contract showroom, and a very unique and pleasurable experience. Austere is broken into sections. You can seemingly acquire anything, from high-end Scandinavian engineered bicycles and furniture, to towels, toiletries, electronics. Even boutique chocolate maker Mast Brothers has set up a shop-in-shop to display and entice the chocoholic in you. Over the holiday season, Mast Brothers chocolates are using the Austere space as a precursor to opening their first store in the Arts District next year.
At its core, Austere is a space for innovation. They collaborate with artists, designers, and creative talent to bring in installations. Earlier in 2015, Austere collaborated with Swedish based luxury rug manufacturer, Henzel Studiosthat was created with help from the Tom of Finland Foundation. The Austere team is open when it comes to collaborations. Headed up by Fredrik as the creative director, they’ll seek out individuals they want to partner with, and are often approached for mutually beneficial collaborations.
Caitlin Rider, whom Fredrik calls a “genius with an amazing eye”, manages the Los Angeles space. Despite being uniquely Scandinavian, Austere is also prominent in giving local Los Angeles designers a space to showcase their work. Currently, the upper level features Sight Unseen: Site Specific LA, which is curated by Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov of the digital magazine Sight Unseen. The exhibition displays a selection of furniture and products from some of the more established and emerging designers and studios in the city. Site Specific LA was Caitlin’s idea, and Fredrik and Caitlin both know and have great respect for Jill and Monica, so collaboration was a no brainer. As Fredrik puts it, “The stars aligned,” for Sight Unseen to be exhibited at the Austere space.
While Los Angeles is the flagship location for Austere, a second location was opened in East Hampton, New York and they have their eyes set on opening another in New York City for 2016.
The Sight Unseen: Sight Specific LA and Mast Brothers chocolate installation shop-in-shop is on view until February 14, 2016.