She’s the genius behind Bisou Bisou, a Harvard graduate and mother of two. She’s worked on Club 40/40 for Jay-Z, won the Golden Key award for her efforts on hotels W in Mexico City and Seoul and liaised with Michael Jordan to create his sports bar and restaurant. Now, with her husband Mathias, she’s brought some of her design magic to Stockholm with the new ‘3-experiences-in-1’ concept, Tjoget.
It all seems a long time ago that Yukiko Krigh was in a girl’s only school in Nagoya, Japan. Whilst her peers talked about becoming housewives and the perfect man, she was dreaming of making a mark on the world. From studying international relations at her hometown university, she went on to be accepted at the prestigious Parsons School of Design, where she completed a thesis in designer restaurants, was ‘honored student of the year’ and was picked out by Nancy Mah to work for her in 1999. She didn’t look back. Globe-trotting around the world, picking up awards and ideas wherever she went, she was working 100-hour weeks in New York until 2001, when the world changed. Her office was opposite the World Trade Centre and she just happened to be out on September 11th, so she was not in danger when the building was hit by suicide bombers but she saw the chaos and carnage and was affected hugely by the impact on life and the city. She decided to take a break.
Not the sort of break that most people would choose. Yukiko applied to Harvard to study a masters degree and was accepted:
After hundred-hour weeks in New York, being given the chance to study was like a vacation. I had worked so hard and under such pressure until that point, that although the course was difficult and the hours required long, Harvard seemed like a holiday. I was able to enjoy it, the study and the surroundings.
But all vacations have to come to an end. Yukiko, refreshed, went back to New York, but this time to start her own business.
It’s so much more than working for someone else; you can’t count the hours that you’re working. You can’t even count the hours that you’re not working. There aren’t any. I’ve never been able to ‘switch off’ the designer in me unless I’m at the beach just looking at the ocean and nature. My whole being is about architecture and whenever I walk into a restaurant, a shop, an airport, I’m looking at the design. My social life and work life are always interconnected.
Social and love life. For Yukiko met Mathias Krigh, the creative director at a marketing company for Levi and Gap amongst other brands and they were soon starting a family together and later, a business. It was another turning point, since they now were looking for the best place to raise a family. They considered Japan at first:
It was a wonderful experience to go back. I found a lot of similarities between Sweden and Japan; there is a socialist attitude to life; people are not keen to stand out and are humble about their achievements. But although I found many similarities, it was still a huge culture shock for my Swedish husband, who saw a lot of the differences. There is a hierarchy and certain way of getting things done that is not typical of Swedes. For example, it is rude in Japan to forcefully decide something, so he was often at a loss as to whether things had or hadn’t been agreed after a meeting. It was difficult for him, so we decided to try out Sweden.
Try out is one word for it. They are a major factor in the transformation of Hornstull as the new arty hot-spot of Stockholm, giving the whole city a new international dimension. Tjoget is conceived by Mathias to be like an old train station, a hub forming a small marketplace where there is a restaurant Linje Tio (run by the awardwinning bartenders and partners; Andreas Bergman and Joel Söderbäck) named for the old line 10 tram, whose route cut through Hornstull. There is also a traditional barber shop named Roy & Son, a homage to original barber Roy (although it is now solely and expertly managed by his son, Peter Mannerstål) and of course, Bisou Bisou.
Bisou Bisou is all Yukiko and it is both beautiful and simple. There are three drinks on the menu (coffee, lemonade, champagne) and one cake, approximating the Swedish rulltårta, but a much classier and daintier affair. They come in all flavours and all designs and are a tribute to both Yukiko’s architectural skills and her love of baking since they please the eye and taste-buds. The recipe is a secret, but you could get custom-made versions should you so desire. Agyness Deyn, Filippa K, Uber and NK already have.
Hornstull as an area has been slowly building itself up as an area to be counted again; it is starting to become a proposition for people who want elegance, good food and something out of the ordinary run. Yukiko is very much part of that movement; one could say a driving force. We’re lucky to have her in Stockholm; our extraordinary expat for March.
If you liked this article, you may also like reading about our other ‘Extraordinary Expats‘. It’s always great to read about people doing well in Stockholm!