a show of about thirty designs for buildings, furniture, lighting, clothing and other disciplines opened on thursday at scandinavia house in new york. 29 Oct 2010 – 9 Mar 2011.
above: helen & hard ( norway ) 2010 shanghai expo finnish pavilion “power by nature”
Called Nordic Models + Common Ground: Art and Design Unfolded, the exhibition was organized by Norsk Form—the Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway– in collaboration with The American-Scandinavian Foundation, which is celebrating its centennial.
The exhibition was designed and curated by the architecture firm Snøhetta in collaboration with Situ Studio.
The show is hosted by Scandinavia House on Park Avenue in Manhattan, practically in the shadow of Grand Central Station, which is a sometimes overlooked refuge for arts and culture from the Nordic countries. (Nordic seems to be the term used to include the Scandinavian nations of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden together with Iceland.) With a lively restaurant and a shop including designs from the area, Scandinavia House also hosts shows and speeches, films and concerts.
The firm Snøhetta is based in Oslo and New York and is known for its designs for the Alexandria Library in Egypt and the Museum Pavilion of the New York World Trade Center site.
Craig Dykers, one of the principles of Snøhetta, was on hand at the opening. He explained the “unfolding” aspect of the title, showing how each of the pieces of display furniture had been created from a single standard piece of plywood, sliced on angles and hinged. “It’s a living hinge,” he said, pointing out how it turned in either direction. The blonde, bare plywood evokes familiar memories of Scandinavian design, notably Alvar Aalto.
“We wanted to arrange it,” Dykers explained, “so that wherever you stand in the gallery you can look around and see an echoing idea.” So hanging lamps pick up on hanging clothing and carbon fiber chairs by Mathias Bengtsson suggest building designs. Wry ceiling lamps called Uggi, by Fanney Antonsdottir and Dogg Gudmundsdottir of Iceland, use the dried bodies of cod fish for their shades.
above: mathias bengtsson ( denmark ) spun chair 2002 – lighter than macbook air
above: fanney antonsdóttir and dögg guđmundsdóttir ( iceland ) dried codfish 2001
The fish not only make a little joke about the region but, as deployed, pick up on the fish-scale-like shingles used to cover the Shanghai expo pavilion by JKMM of Finland. The shingles are made of recycled bottles and other plastic; a sample of them are displayed on the wall beside a huge images of the spherical pavilion.
above: jkmm Architects (finland ) 2010 shanghai expo finnish pavilion “kirnu”
The show emphasizes the egalitarian qualities shared by the area’s cultures, Dykers said, and there is also a kind of democracy of parts at work in many of the designs. Repeated elements work together in a city shelter structure, a dress, a chair—even in a necklace called Butterfly Disguise II by Liv Blavarp of Norway, of disc like forms of maple, wenge, ebony and reindeer horn.
above: liv blåvarp ( norway ) butterfly disguise II, necklace 2009
“The show is the first in a series of programs marking the ASF’s centennial,” said the Foundation’s president Edward Gallagher.
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