Swantje Macke-Monteiro has always had two major passions, and those passions still inspire her today. Her family moved to the Canary Islands from Germany when she was 10, and she fell in love with marine life, going on to achieve a master’s degree in marine biology. Her second passion has always been interior design. “As a little girl, I apparently was always moving around other people’s furniture and re-hanging their pictures,” she says. Macke-Monteiro melded those passions after moving to Calgary and starting her own business as an eco design consultant. She launched SAMM European Design in 2007, working with clients to design elegant spaces without compromising on sustainability and green living.
Here are some of her favourite things in Calgary.
“I can’t pick one favourite dish, because it’s all my favourite. You can build your own bowls with fresh ingredients, and they do it right in front of you. You can’t get more organic and fresh than that.”
“They have such an insane variety of fabrics for anything you need, and thankfully, lines of 100-per cent cotton or linen or bamboo, so it’s that combination of eco-friendly fibres and great designs.”
“Bread is definitely one of my comfort foods, and the Italian Centre bakes its own bread from scratch daily. It’s so fresh and it has a crunch that’s so satisfying and delicious.”
“There are so many treasures here! It’s a great place to hunt for high-quality second-hand furniture, artwork and decor, and it’s already sustainable because it’s being reused instead of going to the dump.”
“Oh, the smell in there is amazing! And it’s beautiful as well, with glass spice jars and a display of vintage containers on the shelves. I love cooking and I love spicy food, and they have the most amazing spice blends.”
“This is my favourite place to bring friends from out of town for dinner. The dishes are beautiful, seasonal and local, and it’s a lovely place to be with the setting and the history.”
“I have a collection of glassware and I love it. Circa has amazing stuff from Europe and a lot of stuff from the ’50s. I don’t know how [the owner] even finds it all.”
“I’m never disappointed when I go here — they always have something I’m looking for. From chandeliers to simple path lighting to go over artwork, it’s funky and modern and unusual.”
“Willow Park has the best selection of wines, beers and spirits. I like to try new merlots and they have a great selection from around the world. And my husband is happy he can find his Brazilian cachaca there, which he has trouble finding elsewhere.”
“The setting is gorgeous… It’s a beautiful spot to go see, but also to look for local art and experience history.”