To celebrate the new Design issue launching at Milan Design Week from April 4-9, Oak presents a series previewing the the best new Nordic projects and collaborations to debut at the annual Salone del Mobile
What is it that connects Norwegian designers working across disparate fields spanning furniture, ceramics and textiles? A new exhibition at this year’s Milan Design Week makes the case that beyond shared passports, there is something deeper at work in Norway – namely, a foundation in craftsmanship. “I realized what impact craft has on the work that designers are doing later in their career in Scandinavia, in Sweden and in Norway,” says Katrin Greiling, the German curator of the exhibition Everything Is Connected: Norwegian Contemporary Crafts and Design.
“Work coming out of these countries is connected to what the education system looks like, because young people learn a craft before starting university. That shapes you, in terms of what you appreciate and how close you are to materials. That’s where I started framing the term ‘everything is connected’.” Greiling, who is also a photographer and designer herself, came to realize what distinguished Norwegian and Nordic design after moving back to Germany, following a period living in Sweden and Dubai. The work in Everything Is Connected includes projects by foreign nationals practicing in Norway, as well as Norwegian designers based in countries such as the UK and Denmark. “As a designer you have a great ability to communicate through design in two different directions, incorporating and reflecting on your own background, but also where you are,” says Greiling. Here, Greiling details what fascinates her about four design projects featuring in Everything Is Connected.
ULD BY HOMSTVEDT & KLOCK
For their first collaboration, Olso-based designers Hallgeir Homstvedt and Runa Klock investigate ways to use waste textiles with Uld, a collection of sound-absorbing soft furnishings.
“I think it’s interesting that both Homstvedt and Klock are pretty established, but they chose to collaborate,” explains Greiling. “I see a strength in that, and in them coming from slightly different approaches.”
SUPER NORMAL BY LIVE BERG OLSEN
Oslo-based Live Berg Olsen trained at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and has a strong affinity for modernist design, which is evident in her flat-pack oak and steel furniture system. Named Super Normal, in a hat-tip to the subtle work of internationally renowned designers Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa,
the collection is designed to be easily repaired and includes a chair with an adaptable backrest, as well as a flexible dresser and table that allows drawers to be both added and removed.
“You can see that she’s working as a stylist too and it’s maybe more of a scenographic approach to furniture,” says Greiling.
“This looks really like linear drawings.”
LAMPALU BY MARTIN SOLEM
Inspired by the aluminium industry in his home town of Arendal, young designer Martin Solem, whose CV includes iconic brands such as Rud Rasmussen and Hay, has created two lamps – a pendant and a table lamp made from spun and CNC-milled aluminium.
“The objects are in similar materials, metal and wood in different combinations, so it could be craft but they are produced in an industrial way,” says Greiling. “He’s working for Hay, so he’s very aware of production processes.”
TANGENT BY JENKINS & UHNGER
Sverre Uhnger is a Norwegian crafts-based designer and co-founder of Norwegian Designers’ Union Klubben, while Thomas Jenkins is a British designer who splits his time between branding agency WORK and his own studio in Oslo. Tangent is their third collaboration and explores the possibilities of LED lighting, with slender lamps that connect to a pedestal, allowing them to be adjusted in order to create different effects.
“This is a very postmodern approach,” says Greiling, “but I think we are in an interesting phase where we’re discovering the possibilities of LEDs and how a lighting source might look different from traditional light sources.”
The exhibition Everything Is Connected: Norwegian Contemporary Crafts and Design will be open from the 4th – 9th April 2017 at Ventura Lambrate, Milano