Norway, Design –
Norway-based designers are achieving global recognition for their beautiful works inspired by traditional and modern elements
Norway has always been a nation of makers. Wool and wood, stone and steel – the country is blessed with an abundance with the raw materials of creation, while Norwegian culture has evolved in the spirit of community and collaboration. As a result, modern Norway is a place of design without ego, where boundaries are pushed and possibilities explored with a shared spirit of curiosity, in the hope of creating something beautiful, functional and lasting.
Talented Norwegian designers are creating products and prototypes ranging from furniture and textiles to sculpture and installation, all of which are attracting the world’s attention.
Three institutions behind Norway’s surge into the limelight of world design include Norway’s fellowship of designers; Norwegian Crafts for the nation’s craft artists; and Oslo-based Design and Architecture Norway (DOGA), which seeks ways in which architecture and design can benefit society as a whole.
Designers and their products
Lars Tornøe – Scoop bowls
Born in Düsseldorf to Norwegian parents, Lars Tornøe is now based in Stavanger, where he runs his furniture and product design studio. Scoop is a family of three multi-purpose wooden bowls in ash and oak, featuring depressions that can be used to store or display small objects.
Marianne Andersen & Victoria Günzler – Dune platter
Working together for the first time, industrial designers Marianne Andersen and Victoria Günzler have collaborated on Dune, a curved and elevated ceramic platter for serving or displaying fruits or other foods. Designed in two different sizes, the platters have an abstract, sculptural quality.
Noidoi – Kapp candleholders
Noidoi was founded in 2013 by Kathrine Lønstad and Cosmin Cioroiu, who met while studying at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Working across a broad spectrum of product design, there is emphasis on usability, materiality and craftsmanship. Kapp is a series of sculptural candleholders made from slipcast stoneware. It pays tribute to the history of their studio’s location opposite a milk factory dating back to 1800 with the use of three colours representing different elements of milk production.
Petter Skogstad – RIG furniture
Oslo-based product designer Petter Skogstad graduated from Akershus University College with an MA in product design in 2010, and has spent nine years at Anderssen&Voll as senior product designer. Skogstad applies a practical problem-solving approach to design, generally focused on the areas of furniture, lighting, tableware and domestic objects, which he develops for brands including Muuto, Hem and Established & Sons. RIG comprises only tubing and flat discs in powder-coated steel, and is a family of furniture objects that are not designed for any specific seating situation but possess a strong sculptural character.
Sara Polmar and Victoria Günzler – James object for organising
The Oslo-based designer with a degree in interior architecture and furniture design from Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Sara Polmar, and her fellow student Victoria Günzler, established the studio günzler.polmar after graduating in 2011. Alongside working with Günzler, Sara pursues individual projects within the field of product and furniture design. James is a domestic sculptured multi-purpose object designed to help keep its owner organised with versatility that combines aesthetics and practicality. A terrazzo base holds a pair of ash-wood bowls of different dimensions, which can be used to store keys, coins, sunglasses, make-up, jewellery and other frequently misplaced items.
So Takahashi – Oslo Stool
Born and raised in Japan, So Takahashi moved to New York to pursue sculpture at the School of Visual Arts and soon developed a strong interest in graphic design. He established his multifaceted creative studio Heads Inc in Manhattan in 1998, producing everything from print design and fine art to electronic music and cosmetics. Now permanently based in Oslo he designed Oslo Stool in two material variants: a solid oak version, and an iteration with a painted steel base and matt-finished oak seat.
Stine Aas – Frame Chair
With an MA in spatial and furniture design from Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Stine Aas creates products and furniture that blend character and simplicity. They are inspired by the everyday interactions between people and the objects around them typically combining the visual, the tactile and the functional in her design. A solid stackable chair in tinted oak, Frame has been designed to be both simple and affordable to produce. Inspired by geometric patterns, the chair comprises a firm body with a softer, laminated shell on top.
Vera&Kyte – Redirect panels
Based in Bergen on Norway’s west coast, Vera&Kyte comprises Vera Kleppe and Åshild Kyte, who established their harbourfront design studio in 2013, soon after graduating from the Bergen Academy of Art and Design. They work across the fields of product, furniture, interior and graphic design. Redirect is a series of versatile panels that can serve as both sound absorbers and room dividers, creating distinct zones in contemporary workspaces. Made from lacquered steel frame upholstered with coloured textiles, each element can be either wall-mounted or freestanding, with adjustable frames that allow them to be adapted however the space requires.
Emerging design duo Ane Domaas and Kathrine Høgh of Domaas/Høgh combines form and function to reflect Norway’s seasons and modest humour
They’re young, creative and ambitious. Ane Domaas (right) and Kathrine Høgh met during their studies at Oslo Akershus University College of Applied Sciences and Product Design and realised they shared dreams of starting a design partnership called Domaas/Høgh to create quality, well-designed products.
They rented a workshop and loft in Oslo that gets hot in summer and cold in winter and got to work creating functional homeware with clean lines, honest forms and playful colours that reflect the modesty and humour of the Norwegian temperament. They are also inspired by their homeland’s landscapes and seasons.
A Chat with Ane Domaas and Kathrine Høgh
1 How do your designs capture the essence of Norway?
Our designs reflect our surroundings and are often inspired by nature. We enjoy using natural materials like wood, glass, metal and ceramic. Ceramic feels good to the touch; wood smells good, and these materials give extra elements to the end result. We also feel that our products tend to be a bit modest, almost shy, and are easy to place in any environment.
2 Why do you think Scandinavian Style in architecture, interior design and product design is so loved all over the world?
We think Scandinavian Style is so loved because it’s simple – with a twist; it’s easy to understand and can be combined with other styles.
3 What Norwegian food do you love most after a hard day designing things?
It’s embarrassing, but almost every time after a hard day of work, we end up eating junk food, maybe because we’re so tired and so hungry. As for local fare it’s always good to have Norwegian waffles with brunost (brown cheese) and jam, and a cup of coffee!
Story compiled by Carol Kraal. Photographs by Lasse Fløde & Torjus Berglid, courtesy of Norwegian Presence and Zeteller, UK