SWEDISH DESIGN 2010
Swedish design has a lot of energy. It inspires one to many things such as to set a smashingly original table for a dinner party, to look smart in a cool new outfit, stand impressed by the works of amazing artists and architects, and generally feel uplifted and rejuvenated.
Many factors, old and new contribute to this desirable state. The works of Sweden’s young designers, for instance, are full of emotional value and pose challenges to aesthetic norms. They captivate with vitality and range of expression -- without sacrificing the functionality and craftsmanship so highly prized in traditional Swedish design.
One of Sweden’s trendsetting craftswoman is Zandra Ahl who, in partnership with journalist Emma Olsson, published “Swedish taste—myths about modern design” that challenged traditional modes and rocked Sweden’s design “establishment” to its foundation. Silversmith Jenny Edlund uses intuition to guide her works in silver and enamel. Ceramic artist Gustaf Nordenskiöld creates pieces that are “trend-centric”: use of tool marks and adapted techniques from various crafts such as candle making.
In Sweden great Swedish design literally surrounds you – in buildings, street signs, hotels, trains, the clothes people wear. Dubbed “beauty on water”, the capital Stockholm offers up nonstop architectural stimulation. Sweden’s foremost example of national romanticism, Stockholm’s City Hall Stadshuset attracts 400,000 visitors annually including attendees at the Nobel Prize Banquet. It plus other famous landmarks such as the Stockholm City Library by Erik Gunnar Asplund, and the Royal Palace contrast with more recently acclaimed structures such as the Hotel Skeppsholmen, a new lifestyle hotel designed by the renowned architects Claesson Koivisto Rune. Skeppsholmen opened this September in a building dating from 1699. Beyond Stockholm one turns for inspiration from the 54-story deconstructivist skyscraper HSB Turning Torso in Malmo and the Röhsska Museum of art and design in Gothenburg on Sweden’s west coast, or the ‘Falu red” cottages of Dalarna in the east, home to the Kingdom of Crystal and the glass works of Orrefors and Kosta Boda.
The works of Swedish designers reflect individual commentaries on our times as well as a reflection of their own activities For instance, the Swedish Embassy in Washington DC designed by Gert Wingårdh, displays a strong ecological awareness and a personal expressive language. Gert Wingårdh, also created the spectacular building of Clarion Sign Hotel in Stockholm. Dominated by granite and glass, it leans over the square, reflecting the green park.
The renowned ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, above the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland is recreated from ice and snow every winter.
Swedish designers also imbue every day items with a palpable relevance. The Power Awareness Cord, for example, makes it easy to see how much electricity a machine uses – with shining or diminishing intensity. The Flower Lamp “blooms” with lessened electricity consumption. Both items were spin offs from a government-sponsored project to create energy awareness using design.
Looking good is among the more personal applications of Sweden’s new design. Known for cool designer clothes are the Swedish brands Odd Molly, Filippa K, WE, and Björn Borg. To buy jeans with a conscience there’s Cheap Monday. In general good taste, Sweden is home to many prominent fashion designers with their own brands.