Last month in London, five curators from Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland came together at the London Design Fair to explore whether they belong in the same room. The design produced in these five countries is traditionally grouped under the label of ‘Nordic’ – design world shorthand for clean lines, natural materials, simplicity, and functionality. By juxtaposing collections of contemporary works from the five Nordic countries, the international design platform Adorno seeks to determine whether these design cultures do indeed share a common thread – or whether categorizing them under a single banner risk overlooking the characteristics and approaches that make each creative culture distinct. For Now Nordic, Adorno has invited each curator to independently assemble a collection of pieces by 5–7 designers working at the intersection of art, design, and craft. Each collection is intended to act as a snapshot of its country’s design culture and includes collectible products ranging from furniture, lighting, and homewares to sculpture, ceramics, and textiles.
Arranged in a birch forest in Hall 9 of the London Design Fair, the exhibition invited visitors to explore the commonalities and differences between each collection white considering whether ‘Nordic design’ still holds meaning in the globalized world of today.
Highlights from the exhibition include:
HELSINKI: Fringe mirrors by Tero Kuitunen
With frames made from hand-bent oak, Kuitunen’s wall mirrors are each finished with a fringe of coloured textile, inviting the viewer to make a haptic connection. The pieces were inspired by a visit to a fabric shop in Girona, Spain, where Kuitunen was transfixed by the colour and tactility of the textile and began to explore the possibilities of unexpected material juxtapositions. The addition of the fringes introduces three dimensions of touch – the tactility of the material, the ‘touch’ of the maker, and the emotional connection the mirrors create. For Kuitunen, the fringes evoke memories of fabric lampshades in his grandmother’s living room – and the irresistible urge to run your fingers through them that they provoke.
COPENHAGEN: Geomorfologi by Gurli Elbækgaard
Elbækgaard’s sculptural ceramic vessels are reflections of her fascination for the forms and colours of nature – notably those found in the landscape of Iceland. These highly tactile objects are created from stoneware clay, to which she applies several layers of glaze to achieve her desired surface finish.
OSLO: The Blend vases by Runa Klock
“Blend” is the first collaborative work by designers Syrette Lew (US) from Moving Mountains and Runa Klock (N). Through their initial conversations, they discussed a mutual interest in working with a to them, unfamiliar material that highlighted a skilled craft. The vase has a strong, visual character, not depending on flowers to be experienced as a complete object. The inner shape of the vase is highlighted by two colors blended, creating a unique look to each vase.
STOCKHOLM: TT Thunder & Fat Twin by Lotta Lampa
From a family of metalworkers, Lotta Lampa has created two contrasting pieces for Now Nordic. TT Thunder is a lightning-bolt sculptural pendant lamp shaped from metal, whereas Fat Twin is the result of her experiments in new materials. Using a mesh-draped timber frame coated in paper and fiberglass, Lampa has created a strikingly organic, free-form side table.
REYKJAVIK: “Figure” container by Ragna Ragnarsdottir
By working in the intersection of design, art, craftsmanship and production, the Ragna explores new creative processes. Ragna Ragnarsdóttir is constantly looking for innovative ways to mix materials with the mission to create interactivity between the product and the user. Figure is a large container build up by layering colored resin in a latex mold. Take a closer look and you may find a meaning, landscape or significance in the colorful graphic. This piece is unique, one of a kind, handmade by the designer.