New Office


I’ve been working as a consulting editor for the Royal Academy of Letters for almost a decade, most of that time from home. But since 2006 I’ve had an office at Academy headquarters in a quiet part of Stockholm. This is very good for alleviating the isolation of a non-affiliated scholar. But the actual room I’ve been in had its upsides and downsides. It’s part of a museum on the premises, which meant that while I did have the world’s gayest tiled stove, I unfortunately also had to use a little 19th century writing desk designed for a petite lady. Furthermore, I always had to get out before the museum’s alarm system was activated.



On New Year’s Day my consulting gig turned steady. And now I’ve got a new office: a bigger room with a better desk. Temporarily I’ll be sharing it with my old thesis supervisor. Instead of a window to the north-east, I now wave a balcony to the west. Sadly, though, my new tiled stove has none of the fabulous flamboyance I’m used to.



  1. #1 Thinker
    April 6, 2009

    Congratulations to the new digs!

    Sadly, though, my new tiled stove has none of the fabulous flamboyance I’m used to.

    My first thought when I read that was “Is he seriously complaining about this elegant tiled stove in his high-ceilinged room with its west-facing balcony?” (For context, my office is one third of a room in a ’70’s office building – functional but boring – and the closest thing we have to a tiled stove is the outlet from the central ventilation).

    My second thought was: “Well, the new tenant will have to compensate for the stove’s lack of flamboyance…”

  2. #2 Martin R
    April 6, 2009

    Yes, I shall have to try to overcome my natural reticence.

  3. #3 owlfarmer
    April 6, 2009

    You could always embellish it with a bit of gaudy paint at the top. You Swedes are so lucky to have these charming ways of keeping warm; in Texas we’re inflicted with ugly grates that spew forth hot air (not unlike some folks I run into). I’ve long lusted after tiled Scandinavian heating devices; considering the shape of yours, that might cause some to recommend I seek psychoanalysis.

  4. #4 Martin R
    April 6, 2009

    Sometimes a tiled stove is just a cigar, you know.

  5. #5 Tobias
    April 6, 2009

    You need to get out more. Your 1st millenium artefact expertise would have been most welcome on Lolland. Please have an occasional lookthrough on the nearest and see if you can help with some info.

  6. #6 Sean
    April 6, 2009

    So how common are these tiled stoves in Swedish buildings? Do they generally burn wood? Do they plug into some kind of wall fitting to vent the smoke?

    We readers from areas where -8*C is a cold winter day want to know …

  7. #7 Martin R
    April 6, 2009

    They were very common for indoor heating from the 18th century and up to WW2. They do fit onto a chimney. The cool thing about them is that the smoke has to pass through a long zig-zag canal in the body of the stove, and the bricks grab a lot of the heat that would otherwise have been vented out. So if you light a small fire in the evening, the stove will still be radiating heat the morning after.

  8. #8 Sean
    April 7, 2009

    Interesting. Iron wood-burning stoves are more common in rural parts of Canada, and I’d never seen a ceramic fireplace like that. On the whole, I think the Swedish solution is prettier.

  9. #9 Martin R
    April 8, 2009

    Maybe my choice of “stove” isn’t entirely apt. These things are pretty useless for cooking. They’re dedicated indoor heaters, never found in kitchens, and when in rural areas, only in manor houses and vicarages.

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