100% Norway has been bringing Norwegian design to British shores for over a decade and usually the focus is on emerging talent and prototypes. This year, that element was still there with the added caveat that every product was both designed and made in Norway, and it was joined by two new elements.
Firstly, Norwegian Icons co-curated the exhibition, and included mid-century pieces as part of their mission to put Norwegian design on the map alongside Scandinavian counterparts Sweden and Denmark. The discovery of oil in Norway in the 1960s meant design took a back seat and classics like Birger Dahl’s 1952 Birdy lamp and Hermann Bongard’s 1961 Plus table (above) were overlooked. “You always have this urge to expand your knowledge, to discover something new – and suddenly we can present a whole beautiful package of unknown designers and objects,” says co-curater Einar Kleppe Holthe. “It’s like holding a box of candy.”
The other new element was a focus on Norway’s manufacturing capabilities with installations from Tanning & Stryn representing wood, Mandal Veveri for wool, Magnor Glasswerk showing glass, Lundhs for stone and Biri Tapet demonstrating straw.
I was lucky enough visit Norway’s Hadeland Glassverk as part of the 100% Norway preview and watch one of the installations being made, a stunning centerpiece by Maud Gjeruldsen Bugge, who has worked with Hadeland since she graduated from Oslo National Academy of Art and Design in 1989.
And of course the rest of the exhibition was stuffed full of the talented young designers we’ve come to expect from 100% Norway. I love the stackable solid oak Lolly stool or side table by Gridy, aka Lars Olav Dybdal and Wilhelm Grieg, a collection they are expanding to include a two-seater bench. The legs were inspired by popsicle sticks.
Trefjøla (Norwegian for ‘wooden plank’) is a brand new company launched in September 2015 at the show, that aims to breathe new life into the humble kitchen chopping board by combining reclaimed wood, sustainable local production methods and contemporary design.
Alexander Åsgård’s Duplé tables comprise a steel frame and oak trays which can be placed on top or underneath, and used as trays or inverted to reveal the upholstered side and their dual function as seating cushions. Åsgård has just completed an internship with previous 100% Norway exhibitors Anderssen & Voll having graduated with an MA in product design.
Oui is a celebration of the marriage of two Norwegian designers – Kristine Five Melvær and Torbjørn Anderssen – one half of Anderssen & Voll. The project was conceived as a representation of “two becoming one” – the double headed vase blown by Magnor Glassverk’s Jarle Seterlien invites each member of a couple of make their own contribution to the bouquet.
My favorite project was Solberg Weave by günzler.polmar, the result of Sara Polmar and Victoria Günzler’s collaboration with Solberg Spinderi, a 185-year-old textile manufacturer in Oslo, who currently make fabric by the meter for traditional Norwegian folk costumes. Looking for a more contemporary and commercial application for the fantastic range of colors and patterns in their archive, but restricted by the pre-set width of a roll, the design duo have created a pattern that can be cut in half, and in half again, ad infinitum, creating a range of products from bedspreads to tea-towels.
And finally, Kirstine Bjaadal’s Hegne and August are vessels and containers for keeping “both the treasured and the trivial” out of sight, but not out of mind.
Photography credits: First image by Dan Weill. All other images by Katie Treggiden.