“Maximalist 180°”: Sweden at Adorno London 2021
“There is a lot to say about this shift in thinking, from classic Scandinavian design to something which blurs the lines of minimalism and maximalism. There is a desire to innovate and carve out a new space for both emerging and established designers. Alongside this, traditional craft practices remain highly revered, albeit with a twist.“
– Stephen Markos, curator of the Swedish collection, “Maximalist 180°”
“Maximalist 180°” is part of Adorno London 2021, presented during London Design Festival, 18-26 September. Visit the collection at the Truman Brewery, Gallery 4 – Dray Walk, off Brick Lane, London, E1 6QL – 22 – 26 September 2021, 10.00-18.00. “Maximalist 180°” is kindly supported by Embassy of Sweden in the UK.
Amidst rolling hills and delicate wildflowers, a skate pool disrupts the landscape. Concrete meets meadow, refined meets rustic – a rebellion of colour, texture, and form springs forth. A breeze leads the way through the flora, creating a path towards objects in copper, ceramic, glass, and wood, among others. They make their home in this space of contrasts, blending traditional hantverk with new techniques and materials. The sun shifts, drawing our eye once more around the skate pool, brimming with new ideas and life, reminding us of the interwoven past and present and this new, innovative path to the future.
Presented in a concrete skatepark surrounded by a field of flowers, the Swedish collection, “Maximalist 180°”, showcases the balance between refined and rustic, executed through new and innovative crafts techniques. In this collection, eleven talented designers demonstrate the new, maximalist-leaning wave of Swedish design, blending traditional handicrafts with alternative approaches and materials. Curator Stephen Markos‘ interest in maximalist design has seen him work with designers from around the world. With this collection for Adorno London, he expands his research into the Swedish design scene – a scene known for its long-standing, minimalistic identity – bringing his well-trained eye to a field full of emerging and established talent. From resourceful metal work to delicate ceramics, colourful textiles to innovative woodwork, “Maximalist 180°” makes a case for foregoing the minimalism traditionally associated with Swedish design in favour of an eclectic and innovative take on traditional crafts.
“Maximalist 180°” features work by Andrea Santivanez, Elias Båth, Gustav Winsth, Jonatan Nilsson, Josefin Zachrisson, Julia Olanders, LAB LA BLA, Oscar Wall, Lisa Hartwig Ericson, Maria Bang Espersen, and Sofie Wallenius.
What are the main themes present in “Maximalist 180°”?
The main themes are a diversity of material and a focus on traditional Swedish handicraft with new perspectives, for example glass blowing, woodworking, and textile work.
What is the significance of the skate park environment that “Maximalist 180°“ is presented in?
For the Swedish collection, with its theme of maximalism over minimalism, it felt like an apt choice to draw inspiration from skate, punk, and grunge culture. The surrounding meadow-like landscape provides a great contrast to the concrete of the skate pool and highlights this juxtaposition of styles, of past and future. These designers are forging their own path – rebelling, perhaps – in a scene known for minimalistic design. Alongside the collection itself, the scenography showcases the balance between refined and rustic, tradition and innovation present in the design scene today.
We were also very inspired by Helena Pataki’s photographs of Andrea Santivanez’s collection piece, “Fringefloss”.
How would you describe the contemporary design scene in Sweden?
The contemporary design scene in Sweden is one of the most active in Europe. There are a lot of makers doing really incredible work, following on the legacy of many great Scandinavian designers of the past. The collection presented at Adorno London during London Design Festival aims to highlight just a few of the creatives in the scene today to show its breadth and depth.
How do the pieces in your exhibition relate to the theme of Adorno London 2021, “Designing Futures”?
As mentioned, the designers in the show are using traditional crafts, but with contemporary perspectives – and really cutting edge design. From the new approach to woodwork in LAB LA BLA’s “BBQ Chair #8”, to the reinterpreted sneaker aesthetics in Gustav Winsth’s “DIO”, to the reframing of resources in Elias Båth’s “Död Mark”, this new generation of designers demonstrate the new, maximalist-leaning wave of Swedish design. The resulting forms are a window into the objects we could be living in in the future.
What do you think the future has in store for contemporary design in Sweden?
There is a lot to say about this shift in thinking, from classic Scandinavian design to something which blurs the lines of minimalism and maximalism. There is a desire to innovate and carve out a new space for both emerging and established designers. Alongside this, traditional craft practices remain highly revered, albeit with a twist.
Meet Stephen Markos, curator of “Maximalist 180°”
Stephen Markos is a New York-based collector, curator, and the founder of Superhouse, a digital platform and nomadic gallery specializing in art furniture and design. Markos began his career by launching the world’s first fine art online auction house with Artnet and has held positions at The Museum of Modern Art New York, Christie’s, and Adorno. Through Superhouse, Markos works to bridge art, design, and technology by providing online programming including daily content, special events, and designer interviews with the likes of Gaetano Pesce and Lapo Binazzi. His recent curated shows include Super Group, which highlighted work by 50+ global contemporary creatives and Different Tendencies, which focused on historically important works from the Radical Period of Italian design in a widely-recognized 3D experience.
In Summer 2021, Markos unveiled the first design video game, in the exhibition Memory Foam, comprising a series of sculptural chairs by design duo OrtaMiklos. In Fall 2021, Superhouse will open the Superhouse Vitrine, a 10×10-foot exhibition space in New York’s Lower East Side.
Can you give a bit of insight into your approach to curating this collection?
“Maximalist 180°” focuses on designers working with traditional Swedish craft techniques – ceramics, glass blowing, textile, woodwork. By applying a wholly contemporary perspective, they’ve created objects that move craft forward and, in turn, help change our relationship to the objects we live with.
“Maximalist 180°” is kindly supported by: