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Artists can stay for free on this Swedish island

Sometimes you just need a bit of solitude and nature to get a project done.

Have you ever dreamed of escaping to an island and throwing yourself into a creative project, uninterrupted and undisturbed by the outside world? Well, your dream could very well come true, thanks to a Swedish man named Fredrik Haren.

Haren is the owner of Ideas Island Vifärnaholme, a 7,000 square meter island that’s one hour away from Stockholm by taxi and a 200-meter row from shore. It has a cozy house (65 sq.m./700 sq.ft.) with electricity and running water, its own beach and dock, and plenty of outdoor room to run around.

But the most special thing about the island is that it’s free for anyone to use for a week, as long as they can prove they want the space to work on a creative project. It exists, after all, to remove distractions and allow for the solitude that is so conducive to creativity. From the website:

“We want to help create an environment that helps to bring some great ideas to life. And we all know that truly great ideas come when we are in solitude, when we are relaxed, when we are close to nature and when we feel in tune with the universe.”

Swedish island view© Fredrik Härén (used with permission)

The island cannot be used for anything other than creative and artistic endeavors, so no celebrating birthdays or honeymoons. Oddly, you are allowed to bring 5 additional friends (the cabin sleeps 6 in total), although how you’d work on creative projects with so many people hanging around, I do not know.

There’s a slight catch. The stay is free, but Haren says that visitors are encouraged to make a donation to charity. A typical donation is, apparently, US$1,000 and it goes to a group providing free therapy to autistic children in the Philippines; but the website does say that smaller donations, or even nothing at all, is fine too. Visitors are responsible for their own travel costs to Stockholm and the one-hour taxi ride to the rowboat launch.

So, really, it’s not that free a week when you factor in these extra costs. You might actually save money by staying at a resort close to home and letting someone else do all your cooking (oh, perhaps that’s why people bring friends along!), but then you wouldn’t be able to say, “Hey, I stayed on an island while painting this masterpiece or writing this blockbuster novel.”

Swedish sunset© Fredrik Härén (used with permission)

Still, it’s a fun idea. Haren himself lives part-time on an another Swedish island and is an author and speaker on the topic of business creativity, so if anyone knows about the power of island life to inspire ideas, it would be him.

Applications are open all year round, though winners are typically announced in February and March. The island itself is open for stays from June 1 to September 30. Learn more at Ideas Island.

Sometimes you just need a bit of solitude and nature to get a project done.


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