How to appreciate Norwegian design?

Oct 08, 2014Hans Marstein

Debate on Norwegian design

On Tuesday evening, Norway Designs, Norwegian Artisans and the Club organized a debate in connection with the exhibition Norway Designs Nå, Vol.1 – Verdi.

In the panel and the hall there were representatives from educational institutions, designers, artisans, producers, journalists and mediators. The purpose was to find solutions for how we can collectively increase awareness of Norwegian design in Norwegian society.

Moderator and art critic Mona Gjessing has written a short summary of the debate:

Runa Boman, general manager of Norway Designs, welcomed on behalf of the initiators and gave an enthusiastic introduction to the debate. Boman called, among other things, for more teaching related to business operations in educational institutions.

The panel included six players who are in their own way linked to the field of Norwegian design: designer Jonas Ravlo Stokke (Stokke/Austad), craftsman Sari Syväluoma, producer Erling Digernes from Røros Tweed, journalist Marianne Lie Berg, D2, mediator Benedicte Sunde at DogA and Stein Rokseth, dean at the School of the Arts in Oslo, Department of Design.

The debate was led by art critic Mona Gjessing. Gjessing began by commenting on the exhibition Verdi and discussed some issues related to pricing.

Several questions were raised to the panelists. Two of them can be found below.

-Do you have any solutions on how we can collectively raise awareness of Norwegian design?
-Is there any contradiction between making good handicrafts and making money?

The panelists had many answers to the questions and the proposed solutions came almost like pearls on a string:
Stein Rokseth stressed, among other things, an emphasis on collaboration across disciplines, a focus on design criticism and a continuation of the design seminar that was held at the Academy of Arts earlier this year. Rokseth also emphasized the importance of strengthening the aesthetic subjects in primary school.

Jonas Ravlo Stokke emphasized improving training on how the market works and called for better follow-up of newly qualified designers. Stokke also emphasized that better journalism is needed around the value of design so that the consumer guide is not allowed to rule the roost alone. Stokke also believed that more grant funding for designers is the way to go.

Marianne Lie Berg criticized Norwegian journalists for being too uncritical of Norwegian design, and claimed that designers and artisans themselves must also become better at communicating their products. Lie Berg also emphasized that the design industry should think more about profit.

Benedicte Sunde believes that better exhibitions must be produced that build interest and understanding of what design is. Sunde stressed that she could imagine the creation of an OCA-like office for designers: the Office for Contemporary Design. This is in view of a larger investment abroad.

Erling Digernes emphasized, among other things, that there must be a shift in values ​​and that new thinking is needed in a number of areas. Digernes believed that it must be easier to run a business in Norway and that it must be more profitable to produce in Norway.

Sari Syväluoma emphasized investing even more in education and a closer collaboration between designers and manufacturers. Syväluoma also requested more articles on design and crafts, also from fairs and also said that designers/craftsmen should participate more actively in promoting their own profession in the public eye.

Norwegian Artisans, the Club and Norway Designs want to arrange more debates in the future that address current topics around Norwegian design, because we want to promote Norwegian designers, and we want more Norwegian products on our shelves!

Read more about the debate in this interview with general manager Runa Boman, written by interior stylist Kirsten Visdal!

Photo: Hege Henriksen

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