Annika Caldwell of Nordik Designs on Creating a New Normal
Meet Annika Caldwell, owner of Nordik Designs, a store that features home goods that come from what Annika calls “the good old Nordic lifestyle.” What is the “Nordic Lifestyle”? A way of life that combines the artistry of design, the practicality of durability and a respect for the environment through sustainability. From Alvar Aalto’s glassware to Kauniste’s textiles to Teemu Jarvi’s stunning art prints, and many more, Nordik’s products feature designers who share Annika’s strong value of design. durability and sustainability. Every piece has its own unique story to tell as does Annika herself.
Annika, who grew up in Finland, has survived a car bomb, broken several bones, lost part of her hearing and contracted malaria and Digangi fever over a 20 year career providing humanitarian aid in 25 countries around the world. “I haven’t had a normal life for several decades,” says Caldwell. While opening a small business may be an attempt at a more “normal” life, Annika says, “This has been a great adventure, a new adventure, but a safer adventure.”
Nordik was born out of Annika’s passion to help others and the environment. “Sustainability is very important to me for various reasons and one obviously being I saw the impact of pollution and climate change in my previous life.” Annika firmly believes in traceability and prides herself on the fact that she can tell her customers exactly who, how and with what materials each of her products were made.
Though she is no longer on the front lines, Annika continues to give back by supporting Smile for Budgie, a non-profit that provides support to at-risk youth. She also gives regularly to the Food Bank and assembles care packages for local homeless and diabled veterans in the Reno/Sparks community. As Nordik continues to grow, she hopes to be able to give back even more.
When she set out to scout a spot for her business, Annika immediately fell in love with The Basement particularly with the historic Art Deco architecture of the old Post Office building that was built between 1932 and 1934. Coincidentally, these were the same years that her favorite Scandinavian designers Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino Aalto created their best works. “The pieces just fell in place. It just felt right. There were too many connections not to be missed and I just decided to go with it.”
As a Humanitarian Worker, Annika moved around a lot. “I never had that sense of belonging.” When asked why she chose to plant roots in Reno, she says, “There’s something special about how this place feels. People are very welcoming and also creative. This is going to be a very special place and I want to be part of it. “