“The future (or underground) of design in Sweden is eclectic, daring and mutating. The opposite of what it is commonly and historically known for.”
Fluorescent oranges, yellows and deep blues, faux hair on glass candelabras and 3-D printed afro picks, Swedish design is evolving in ways which would have been unimaginable decades ago. A long-standing player in the design world, Swedish design would traditionally be represented by natural materials and minimalist aesthetics represented in a light, agreeable color pallet. As the face of Sweden’s society is changing, its cultural and design identity is developing right along with it, speaking just as much to new the new world of contemporary design and functional art.
Adorno is proud to present the Swedish Collection, curated by Paola Bjaringer, to be exhibited this year at Crossovers: 2019 during London Design Fair. The Stockholm Collection: 7 Swedish contemporary designers challenging the norms, with a prime focus on women, young designers and fierce form, this collection aims at broadening what we commonly consider Swedish design to be.
Designers presented in this collection range from established leaders in Sweden’s design scene to the emerging talents, with works by Färg & Blanche, Åsa Jungnelius, Anna Kraitz, Simon Skinner, MADEBYUS, Maja Michaelsdotter Eriksson and Anna Nordström.
The Swedish Collection
What are the main themes presented across the works in the collection?
All the works are either limited edition or unique handcrafted pieces in a broad range of materials exploring strong themes such as cultural identity or gender.
Give us 3 words that define the current design scene in Sweden.
The future (or underground) of design in Sweden is eclectic, daring and mutating. The opposite of what it is commonly and historically known for.
What in this collection might surprise viewers who are familiar with Swedish and Nordic design?
The color range, the style, the materials, and the underlying themes.
The collection also embodies a diversity on multiple levels, through materials, subject matter or even designer background. How does this diversity differ from a past understanding of Swedish design, and what does it say about its future?
Swedish design is mutating in tune with social change as its traditional cultural heritage is being challenged on many levels. Slowly but surely new definitions of what constitutes “Swedishness” arise, questioning the status quo from design school to institutions and employers in the field. A new generation of designers is already at work shaping a more diverse future both in form and function, and perhaps even more significantly, in meaning.
This collection presents works that can be examined and interpreted through a more progressive sense than what we normally encounter in design. Do you think that this attitude and this spirit is something particularly telling about Swedish design and culture?
No, it’s a global trend towards a more representative and inclusive way of thinking about the objects we need today and in the future, guided by a new generation of designers. In smaller countries such as Sweden, more recently exposed to its traditional cultural codes and values being challenged, this shift is perhaps more visible. Certainly, the urgency of broadening the definition of what constitutes Swedishness through artifacts is particularly palpable today in Sweden as it reflects so vividly the state of current public debates.
Crossovers: Connections to World Design
What does this collection say about the state of contemporary design internationally?
There is an interesting widening gap between high end ornamental expensive collectible design and local handcrafted design-art pieces calling for a more responsible take on what objects we actually need to own. Often more political in nature, the newcomers in contemporary collectible design are calling for a questioning of what constitutes a desirable functional object, often through major social themes such as gender equality, race or ecology. Two very different takes on design, the later statutes at the crossing of design and art as a motor for change. The first being often purely aesthetic and comfortable, which in itself is the traditional status quo. The new generation calls for more content.
What is exciting about having this collection displayed together with other top design scenes from around the world?
To wander around different design scenes from a cultural perspective opens up for bridges, what are the resemblances and differences? A very interesting way to reflect upon what’s coming up next both internationally and locally, especially when it comes to young designers.
Curated by Paola Bjärninger
What attracted you to be involved in collectible design, and work with designers working at the intersection of art and design?
It started at the end of my studies at London School of Economics when I wrote my Master thesis in Gender Studies on the subject of sex toys. Back then there were no products meant for female pleasure made by women designers. So I did a collection of Lovetoys with different women designers, one of them was Matali Crasset. Lucky me I have had the chance to cross paths with extremely knowledgeable and talented designers like Matali, whose works go way beyond form and function. When a project focuses primarily on the human side of design, vital questions arise like how can a space or an object increase our sense of generosity or better integrate disadvantaged social groups and individuals? Very few designers today have that ability, as such their non-binary approach to design as social progress IS art. For me, design, like art, becomes collectible once its creator questions the way we live our lives in order to hopefully experience more meaningful relations with ourselves, others and nature. Today more than never functional art or design-art is needed to guide us all in an increasingly overwhelming web of pointless stuff.
What is your current favourite piece of design you have encountered and why?
When Jim Comes to Paris is a vertical foldable bed created by Matali Crasset. Beyond the aesthetic beauty and technical cleverness of it, this landmark object strikes me for its generous nature: how can we create space for others in our daily life no matter how we live or who we are. It embodies a multi-leveled reflection palpable by all our senses when interacting with it. It’s not just a bed, it’s a column of hospitality.