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Monday, February 6, 2023

The Norwegian museum that’s redefining design

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On June 11, when 31 design and ornamental arts rooms open as a part of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo’s new 13,000-square-metre, harbourside museum, they are going to type one of many largest shows devoted to design in northern Europe. The curators have a posh story to inform, not solely of custom but additionally of the long run.

Seven of the rooms can be devoted to design from 1900 to the current. Around 2,000 objects can be on show. The museum’s design curators wish to transfer past the same old shows of mid-century furnishings and promotional posters that guests have come to count on from design museums in every single place. Their message is that Nordic design is socially, culturally and technologically related as we speak.

Some of essentially the most illuminating shows in Oslo will concentrate on design from current many years, an period when these working in every little thing from furnishings and style to product design responded at velocity to relentless technological change. Consumer tech design in northern Europe was notably sturdy. Finland’s Nokia and Sweden’s Ericsson, for instance, produced a number of the most progressive handsets of the pre-smartphone period. Nokia had its personal design division below Eero Miettienen, the Finnish industrial designer, between 1998 and 2009. The firm launched one of many first extensively accessible digital camera telephones, the 7650, in 2001 — six years earlier than Apple’s first iPhone.

Assembling the design rooms has taken seven years. (The opening itself has been delayed a number of occasions.) Denise Hagströmer, senior curator on the museum and a design historian, began with 50,000 design and craft objects from town’s former Museum of Decorative Arts and Design — one among a number of metropolis establishments that closed previously decade to make approach for the brand new nationwide museum. The museum’s overarching transient is to accommodate artworks for hundreds of years, however Hagströmer additionally wished to point out how fashionable Nordic design, and expertise particularly, has influenced the remainder of the world.

Her first job was to carry the outdated everlasting assortment, made up of largely conventional objects similar to positive porcelain, fragile vintage textiles and silverware, updated. About a 3rd of the shows can be new acquisitions, a few of that are furnishings, style and textiles. “Crafts have always been strong in the collection,” says Hagströmer. “But there has not been the same kind of attention paid to industrial, graphic and digital design. I did not want to just put an object on a plinth, because there is a difference between a showroom and a museum. Any museum has to develop its approach to exhibiting.” She factors out that, historically, the aim of a design museum was to outline good style, however within the technological age their function is much less clear. “Today, you might ask yourself what on earth the role of a design museum should be.”

Oslo’s National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design value greater than £50mn and has been greater than seven years within the making © Ina Wesenberg

Part of the reply lies in showcasing expertise. But Hagströmer stresses that doesn’t imply vitrines stuffed with cell phones and chunky plastic laptops. Good technological design is more and more intangible — these days, with our reliance on smartphones, “design” is about tactile person expertise, haptics and interactivity — and displaying it in a approach that explains its ingenuity is a perpetual problem for curators.

A two-part room referred to as From Product to Service explores the relationships between tangible and summary design. It begins with a brand new acquisition: the entire workshops and studios of Terje Ekstrøm, the Norwegian designer finest recognized for his futuristic Nineteen Seventies Ekstrem chair — a conceptual piece that presaged the digital age, in that it seems one thing like a tangle of primary-coloured wires inside a circuit board. (It is surprisingly snug.)

The Ekstrøm reveals sit alongside a brand new conceptual work referred to as Orchestrated Experience, an set up commissioned from London-based Norwegian studio Hunting & Narud. Hagströmer describes it as “design that is immaterial — when you make an appointment with your GP, or when you order food online. These systems are service design — and there is art to them.”

Screen Time can be a gallery displaying digital graphic design. It explains maybe essentially the most immediately recognisable (no less than to these guests who had been round within the Nineteen Eighties) instance of “rotoscoping” — a video method that creates animation on high of live-action footage to boost naturalistic motion. An enormous display screen will immerse guests within the 1985 promotional video for “Take On Me”, the Norwegian pop trio A-ha’s hit single.

Norway’s National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design
Norway’s huge National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design opens in June 2022 © Annar Bjørgli

There is {hardware}, too. Offshore industrial design similar to deep-sea robots, for instance and meditations on pylons in landscapes. A star exhibit is AV1, a recent robotic designed by No Isolation, a Norwegian firm, to be the classroom eyes and ears of youngsters sick at residence or in hospital. (It is an instance of so-called “warm technology”, a self-discipline that focuses on enhancing the standard of customers’ lives slightly than summary programs.)

Hagströmer has additionally introduced in Norwegian specialities in different disciplines: fanzines, flyers and report covers regarding youth subcultures similar to black steel, for instance. When constructing the gathering, she scoured report outlets for album art work by bands together with Mayhem. “I found records in an Oslo shop called Neseblod, which translates as Nosebleed,” she says.

Chairs are a northern European design preoccupation (the Designmuseum in Copenhagen, which is about to reopen after a revamp, has illuminated walk-through tunnels stuffed with them). The Oslo museum has commissioned its personal new chair design, by Andreas Engesvik, to be used within the museum’s public areas. The glossy blond-wood chair, referred to as the Portrait, manufactured by Herman Miller, is meant to “embody the essence of Norway”.

There had been loads of current chairs from the mid-century Nordic design heyday within the everlasting assortment. But the brand new museum’s design curators have gone one additional: chairs that specific a Nordic fascination with expertise and engineering. There are, for instance, the millennium-era, swing-like constructions in neon by Peter Opsvik, the Norwegian industrial designer (finest recognized for the Stokke Tripp Trapp picket excessive chair for infants, a noughties ubiquity), and but extra chairs by the influential design group Norway Says, based in 2002.

Hagströmer, who’s Swedish-American, says her precedence is to elucidate how Nordic design pertains to the remainder of the world: independent-minded and with vitality, but additionally with world attraction.

Major museum openings are uncommon, and Oslo’s National Museum, which has value greater than £500mn, has been lengthy anticipated. It can be comparable in measurement to the National Gallery in London, and bigger than the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. Hagströmer says a significant curatorial affect has been London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. “We call it the mothership,” she says.

Design is usually considered much less worthy of consideration and sources than positive artwork, probably due to its ubiquity and practicality. But the brand new National Museum takes it very critically. Among its first big-name exhibitions can be a solo present by Grayson Perry, the British artist, that can embody ceramics, sculptures, tapestries and embroideries.

The Nordic area is made up of 5 nations: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, however its design industries share aesthetic components and a few heritage. But what characterises a Nordic designer? “Designers and museums communicate with each other across borders and that is reflected in the collection,” says Hagströmer. “It is, perhaps, a collaborative perspective.”

She hopes that in these new galleries, exemplary design can be greater than only a prescription for good style and gracious dwelling. The function is to carry it to life, with one of the best of recent ingenuity.

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Source: www.ft.com

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