herding chair: Gunvor Catherin Røkholt designs the interiors of some of Norway’s most exclusive accommodations. But it wasn’t for granted that this would be her path as an entrepreneur, even though her early life laid a good foundation: She spent every summer with geraniums and tarspots on a medieval farmhouse in Vajo. There, interest in the cultural heritage of Norway has gained a real foothold.
– When I started at Oslo Cathedral School, I met people from all cultures, not just my observant neighbors in Byrum. That was my first step out into the big world, Rockholt recalled.
At the gym, I outlined three other career paths in order of priority: fighter pilot, psychologist or interior designer. After taking the preparatory course, she found out that neither a psychologist nor a fighter pilot would be her path.
– Mother was very interested in interiors. We traveled all over Europe and I often sat in the back seat with lampshades on my lap.
Røkholt, with structural engineering drawing and furniture wallpapering on his resume, also had an extra job at the Green Apple furniture store.
– It was interesting to meet and read clients. There I really blossomed creatively.
Later, she started her own interior design shop with her boyfriend at that time, but the relationship and the shop ended. Røkholt moved to Atelier Hødnebø, where she developed fabrics, accessories, furniture, managed production and worked with clients and sales. With full throttle, I also started the concept of franchising with Spanish fabrics and furniture. It went well in Norway, but when it was set to open in Sweden and Denmark, it went too far.
– You met the wall. At that time I met Knut Ivar Sked. He is one of the wisest people I have ever met, and he gave me good advice and a kick in the butt: start with yourself!
- name: Gunvor Katherine Rockholt (57).
- business idea: depicting the interiors of high-end tourism companies in Norway.
- ambitious: Revisit Hotel Mundal in Fjærland, our biggest tourist icon in Norway. Taj Mahal in Norway, which was built exclusively for European tourists to see the glacier.
- financing: NOK 175,000 from the Norwegian Council of Culture, equity through operations.
- friendsFounder: (100 percent).
high quality standing
22 years ago, GCR Design AS started.
– I started a limited company because it facilitated trade around the world.
The idea was to take on interior design assignments for the private market, because she was the best at it. Then things started piling up with big projects from both the public and private sectors. In 2011, she launched the book Color Interior Design. Working with history and cultural heritage became her path, and at first she worked mostly in Western Norway.
Then she broke up, got an offer to build a luxury brand in India and accepted. For nearly two years she was traveling between India and Norway. Then came covid.
– Then I made a new choice: I was going to focus on Norway tour companies in the higher price range; Find out what they are good at and what they need help with. It’s about making the character visible. There should be no similar project. It is about nurturing the spirit and history of the place, but it should not become a museum. Guests want to feel comfortable and not put chips in the trunk when seated.
Røkholt, who also wrote Ryper på jakt, A Fishing Book for Girls, and A Colorful Cultural Heritage, left his mark on places such as 2/92 Aurland, Reinheimen Lodge, Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel, Åmot Gard, Kentholmen and Wolf Lodge. It has a turnover of about NOK 3 million a year and has money left on the bottom line.
– Omut Guard Wolf Lodge has almost only foreign guests who are willing to pay. The places where I work range from NOK 10,000 to more than NOK 100,000 per night. At the Wolf Lodge, the price can be as high as NOK 300,000 per night, but this includes everything from food and drink to guiding and transportation.
In Umut Gard, they have many Arab and American guests. They don’t want a five star hotel experience, but they want the same standard, like ironed shirts, food at any time of the day, etc.
– It’s about experiments, and sometimes I have to design rooms. Then I cover breakfast, make arrangements for lunch outdoors if possible, and use a different service, tablecloth and flowers for each meal. I worked for a rich businessman from India so I know very little about this.
protection through use
Røkholt doesn’t budge an inch on the idea that it’s about protection through use, and that it has to be sustainable.
– Guests are willing to pay for it. A lot of what I do is take care of what they already have, but there must be an idea behind it. How do you make the story exciting with what they already have? They don’t need to buy antiques if the barn is full.
Røkholt himself bought a small farm in Luster.
– My dream is to develop Munthehuset in Luster. The National Romance began there and Tidemand and Gude most likely made sketches of The Bride’s Journey at Hardanger in Lustrafjorden.
This article was first published in Finansavisen.
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