Norway Designs NOW

Jun 14, 2018Julia Lossius

Norway Designs NÅ is an exhibition series initiated by Norway Designs, Norwegian Artisans and the Club. The series wants to promote Norwegian handicrafts, design and the people who create the works. We wanted to direct the focus back to the dissemination of Norwegian design and contribute to increased understanding of and familiarity with Norwegian designers, production and products. By showing objects that are both shaped and produced in Norway, the exhibition wants to contribute to maintaining Norwegian industry and the craft tradition. The exhibition series, which is shown in our shop premises, started in 2014 and has shown a number of Norwegian products and works of art.

A space for Norwegian design and handicrafts

Norway Designs has always been, and will continue to be, a concept that breaks the traditional boundaries of what it means to be a shop. In that context, NÅ has been a guide for what we want to be, while the series points back to what we originally were: A space for Norwegian design and handicrafts.

From the opening of Norway Designs in 1957

The origin of Norway Designs was the exhibition "Norway Designs for living." It was shown for the first time in Chicago in 1951, and was further shown in several other places in the USA until 1953. The purpose of the exhibition was to promote the export of Norwegian goods, and the exhibition was one of the first to aim to market Norwegian design products in USA. In 1957, the store Norway Designs was established in Oslo, where the idea was to promote Norwegian design products and handicrafts in Norway. At the same time, the organization PLUS was started in the Old Town in Fredrikstad. PLUS was supposed to be a mediating center between designers and the industry; they wanted to create a meeting point that made it easier for both parties to get ideas from the drawing board to production. Throughout PLUS's lifetime (until 1978), Norway Designs was a distributor of much of what was produced there. Large parts of Norwegian design history from the period 1958-1978 have their origins in PLUS.

In such a perspective, it becomes clear that our identity is closely linked to cultural development. When Per Tannum founded Norway Designs, it was with a vision to create "a center for the best in quality and design that is produced in Norway in the areas of furniture, textiles and other applied arts." Norway Designs will be allowed to represent an alternative in the myriad of goods and brands. Our identity is rooted in cultural development. We work to create space for Norwegian design and handicrafts, lift objects into the light and expand the space they are in. NÅ has helped to define the store's role. In an identity context, NÅ has been important to show what we stand for. Our profile should be recognizable by pointing back to PLUS and containing what we were, dressed in the colors of the season. We have a solid core, and outside this core there is continuous work with growth and renewal, so that more layers are constantly being added to what is already established. Our perspective alternates between looking back and looking forward, and in all cases the view is firmly rooted in an ever-growing Norwegian design industry.

The exhibitions

The first exhibition, Norway Designs NÅ Vol. 1 VALUE , opened in September 2014 and was a curated sales exhibition that marked the start of Norway Designs NÅ. In close collaboration with Norske Kunsthåndverkere and the Club, we showed 14 products from Norwegian designers, including the founders of the Club, Sverre Uhnger and günzler.polmar. The processes behind the products and different production methods were highlighted, and the products were presented at different stages, from prototypes to small-scale production to large-scale production. The exhibited products were presented in three categories; unique, small-scale and large-scale. For the customer, this meant recognition of the different price levels and thus an insight into, and understanding of, the value of the objects.

Fungi hails from Gridy

Lune lamp by Sverre Uhnger

In Vol. 2 SKALA (2015) we chose to focus on small-scale production, where the premise was that the products selected were produced in a small run, preferably by the designer himself or in collaboration with a craftsman/small-scale producer.

Granite bookends by Silje Nesdal

Terracotta vases by Guri Sandvik

In Vol. 3 SIXTEEN (2016) we continued the small-scale category, but this time starting from the number sixteen. The name referred to the year we were in, 2016, and applicants were encouraged to interpret the number and apply with objects produced on a small scale.

Handlewithcare by Noidoi

Barrel by Anette Krogstad

Vol. 4 SUM (2017) stood out by focusing exclusively on large scale. Here we wanted to create a point of contact between industry and design, where Norwegian manufacturers and designers could find the tone and create new, good design together. The name SUM alludes to the sum and result of a speed-date between Norwegian designers, artisans and manufacturers in spring 2016. In this way, SUM also points back to our origins and founder Per Tannum.

Drops by Magnor Glassverk + Kristine Bjaadal

SUM reflects Per Tannum's vision for the organization PLUS and drew a symbolic circle around Norway Design's 60th anniversary. PLUS's main purpose was to promote cooperation between the industry and designers. With SUM, we wanted to show that the finished result does not exist without good cooperation between the manufacturer and the designer, and that there are many factors that must agree in order to be able to use the enormous expertise that Norwegian designers represent.

Tray by Fjordfiesta + Jenkins & Uhnger

In Vol. 5 IDENTITY (2018) we wanted to investigate the relationship artisans and designers have with the material they work with. The objects are divided into material groups which are mixed, collected and dialogue with each other in different ways through two separate exhibitions. Glass, ceramics, textiles, leather, metal and wood intersect and communicate across materials, creating an interesting exhibition both collectively and individually.

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