Frame co-founder Erik Torstensson talks taste
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My personal style signifier is a uniform of jeans, black T-shirt, navy cashmere sweater, navy coat, a Patek Philippe Nautilus and white vintage Converse high-tops. I’ve worn Chuck Taylors every day for 20 years, but in 2015 they made the toe cap too pointy and I can’t live with it, so I only wear the older style.
An object I would never part with is a scrapbook from childhood that my mother made for me. I left Sweden and moved to London when I was 19, and have effectively been a global nomad for long parts of my life, so the book is a beautiful memory of where I come from. It’s got everything from photos to the wristband that was put on me when I was born, and it grounds me to look through it.
The place that means a lot to me is our country house in Wiltshire, Donhead House. My partner Natalie [Massenet] and I bought it nine years ago when we were living in London, and it has been a labour of love to renovate. We did it together with the British architect Philip Joseph, who is amazing with texture, colour and scale, and has this special sensibility for creating a countryside home that’s also modern. It’s great for entertaining lots of people, and has gardens by Miranda Brooks. Now that we live in New York it is very inconvenient to have a weekend house that is six-and-a-half-hours away by plane, but I think it is important for us to have a place in Europe where family and friends can get together.
And the best souvenirs I’ve brought home are knick-knacks from a store in Stockholm called Svenskt Tenn. They have everything from big sofas to pewter decorations, which I’ve bought to put in the guest rooms in our house.
The best book I’ve read in the past year is Helmut Newton’s autobiography. I struggle with reading as I have ADHD; I will read the same page three times but get so distracted I won’t remember anything. But I got through this book through sheer will, like running the New York Marathon, because I’m such a fan of his work. Generally, I collect photography books, or visual magazines such as The World of Interiors and Architectural Digest.
My style icon is Richard Avedon. He dressed always in a very effortless but precise way that seemed to perfectly match his persona. He had a distinct haircut and glasses, a very slim silhouette that he dressed to, and over the years that didn’t change much. I like that consistency.
The best gift I’ve given recently is courtside seats at Madison Square Garden for the season to watch the New York Knicks. I take Natalie for date night sometimes, or my son for the matinée game; he loves the jumbotron.
And the best gift I’ve received is a 1971 Range Rover, which is white with chrome details and clear windows, from Natalie. She is the best gift-giver – my birthday is on Christmas Day, so I’ve never celebrated it much, but when I turned 40 she arranged a surprise party with 30 of our friends in the Maldives. The little boy in me was emotionally overwhelmed and forever grateful.
I have a collection of Pol Chambost ceramics and I am obsessed with chairs – I’m not allowed to buy any more. I love the proportions of them, that you can move them around, and that they have so much character in their own right. I have Joris Laarman’s Bone chair, a Swedish classic by Axel Einar Hjorth and more modern works by Max Lamb. They are highly uncomfortable and not very practical; I see them more as sculptures.
In my fridge you’ll always find Kalles Kaviar, a Swedish fish roe paste that I eat with eggs or spread onto bread or crackers. It is an acquired taste, a bit like the Marmite of Sweden. And I think you should always have a good vodka in the freezer for Martinis – I use Belvedere.
The last thing I bought and loved was a sculpture by Ugo Rondinone. He’s most famous for these big, coloured rocks that he made in the desert, but for years I’ve been desperate for one of his little brutalist stone sculptures of people, which are very hard to get hold of. I was lucky enough to secure this one when he was part of a group exhibition in New York.
I’ve recently discovered Dall-E, a visual AI engine that reacts to words. When you write something, it generates a unique set of images based on its learnings. As a creative director and designer, it means I can now do sketches of ideas I have, with a slight randomness to it, which is quite modern.
I couldn’t do without my executive assistant Dee Walsh, who has worked with me for nine years and is everything I’m not, which is a lot. She is part of my family.
An indulgence I would never forgo is over-ordering from takeaway restaurants. It’s not good for my shape, but it’s a small luxury that won’t break the bank. My favourite place is Somtum Der in New York, where I eat lunch every day. somtumdernewyork.com
The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Cy Twombly, the absolute GOAT for me. I’ve always been drawn to his work, and even his apartment; he was just so ahead of his time. I have an edition of one of his scribbles in my home.
My wellbeing guru is my personal trainer Dennis Hoop. I must be the hardest person to get to exercise consistently, and he always keeps things moving so I really owe him for that (I probably also owe him a lot of money for cancelling all the time). I also see Dr Dominique Fradin-Read, who has a company called VitaLifeMD, one of the best-kept secrets in LA. When I turned 40, a famous friend of mine, who looks very good for their age, sent me to her for anti-ageing; they check everything and give you a customised plan that includes NMN pills or injectable peptides, and it has really worked for me.
The last music I downloaded was by my 17-year-old stepdaughter, Ava Massenet, who sings, plays the guitar and writes all her own music and lyrics – I think her best hit is “Army of One”. My other stepdaughter Isabella, who is 23, is a DJ in New York. I have a very musical family.
The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was yet another Frame men’s cashmere sweater. It’s the perfect shape, and we worked on it forever to make it so; it’s classic with small twists to the proportions to make it feel modern. I have them in every colour, and order every new colour we make.
The grooming staples I’m never without are Oribe hair wax – I’ve tested them all and this is the best, because it looks like you haven’t tried; Dior Homme fragrance, which I’ve worn without fail for 20 years and still draws compliments; and a tripeptide cream from VitaLifeMD, which is the only skincare I use.
My favourite building is Helmut Lang’s house in the Hamptons, which he has just sold. It’s this beautiful, unassuming farmhouse situated between the billionaire homes of East Hampton. I got to go there once and he had his own vegetable garden and cats and rabbits.
The work of art that changed everything for me was Arena Homme +, the London fashion magazine that was really relevant when I was young. Because I lived in the middle of nowhere in Sweden, it showed me everything that the world could be at the time.
The podcast I’m listening to is Pivot by Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway, who sum up everything going on in the worlds of tech, business and politics in an entertaining way, and also Filip & Fredrik, which is a Swedish-language podcast that I find very comforting – like hair conditioner for my brain.
In another life, I would have been an artist, interior designer or film director. I think they’re all very similar, in that they’re about having an opinion – which is effectively what I do now – and then trying to execute it. I think with my personality, a non-creative job just isn’t possible, and I would be so bad at it.
My favourite apps are from auction houses such as Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips. I usually look at modern art or furniture auctions, as well as estate sales, such as Paul Allen’s recent one. Every now and then I will bid on something, but the great pleasure is in scrolling and the visual intake of things that are beautiful. I also like 4k Stogram, which pulls all the images you save on Instagram into folders on your laptop, which I thought was a good hack.
The best bit of advice I ever received was from my mum, who told me to treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s not particularly new or special, but it really works. I try to live by it even though I fail all the time.