Norway’s Design Talent

Norway’s Design Talent

Norway, Design Personalities –

The nordic country recently celebrated their National Day on 17 May. Three exciting designers capture their country’s essence with narrative creations

TWO ARE YOUNG fledgelings in their 20s. One is an ethnic Sami who once herded reindeer with her family. Vilde Hagelund; Guro Sørbø Midtun and Siri Line of Studio Føy, and Máret Ánne Sara have so much to say in their design creations that the world sat up and took notice.


Vilde Hagelund: I am very conscious about the design process and methods I use in my projects.”

One day it dawned on 27-year-old Vilde Hagelund that her calling was in furniture design. The Oslo-based designer has degrees in both multimedia technology and product design and has dabbled in many design fields – but it was furniture that fired her passion. Hagelund strongly believes that material, form and function should be equally valued throughout the design process. Combining a crafter’s hand, an artist’s eye and a designer’s mind, she creates long-lasting, quality products that have a story to tell.

The Remissus trays and Pedestal table, all in solid birch wood, are the result of the project Objectum – a library of 60 objects made over 60 days, with the aim of gaining a deeper knowledge of the material’s inherent properties. Remissus’ organic shape is carved from one piece of wood, inspired by the unpredictable contour of a drop of water. Pedestal is machine-made with hand-carved details, giving the furniture its distinct tactility. The objects are based on craftsmanship and knowledge of materials as prerequisites for producing furniture with a long life

1 How does your home country Norway inspire your works? 

The choice of materials in my projects is deeply inspired by the natural resources Norway can provide. Recently I worked with Larvikite, a stone crafted 300 million years ago in Larvik. I also used birch for some of my products – it’s a type of wood that constitutes large parts of the Norwegian forest. I aspire to continue exploring the rich selection of Norwegian natural materials in further projects. 

2 What advice from your Design School stays with you till today when you create things?

I am very conscious about the design process and methods I use in my projects. We were always told to focus on our process at university, and it has made me much more aware of the design process by documenting and telling the story behind the product. 

3 How did you celebrate Norway’s National Day 17 May? What food do you crave for after a hard day at work?

For our National Day, we started the day with a champagne breakfast in our bunads. It was a different kind of celebration than the ones we are used to due to the COVID-19 situation, and having to avoid crowded places. But we still managed to celebrate our national day with our closest friends. 

On normal days – after a hard day’s work there is nothing like a piece of crispbread with brunost (Norwegian brown cheese) and a cup of tea.

Each Remissus tray is carved from one piece of solid birch wood, and has an organic shape inspired by the unpredictable contour of a drop of water
Project Objectum: 60 objects made over 60 days, with the aim of gaining a deeper knowledge of birch wood’s inherent properties. The objects are based on craftsmanship and knowledge of materials as prerequisites for producing furniture with a long life
Pedestal tables consist of geometric parts made by machine. A hand-carved texture is added on the surface, for a tactile experience, enhancing the material agency and the value of craft. In a way, they can be seen as a representation of how machine and hand can coexist to make rare products in a world with overconsumption and mass production

Guro Sørbø Midtun and Siri Line

The design process for us often begins with creating a narrative that we can work around that involves a lot of sketching. We have a very playful approach when designing new products, and can find inspiration pretty much everywhere.” 

Guro Sørbø Midtun (left) and Siri Line have won numerous design awards

These 28-year-old designers met at University, and decided to start their own studio and create high quality products rich in playful narrative and expression. From furniture to kitchenware you’ll often see psychology based design strategies in the process, where the goal is to increase the attachment between the user and product.

Oppi is a series of two small coffee tables, complementing each other in a nice way with its different heights. At first, Oppi appears over dimensioned and compact, but when looking inside you will get surprised by a hidden space. Photo by Sara Angelica Spilling

1 How does your home country Norway inspire your works? 

Surroundings and nature in Norway always inspire us in a way, but it varies how clearly it appears in the design. One of our products called Lunde is an example of a product we have where the inspiration from Norwegian nature is very obvious. Lunde means Atlantic puffins. It is a series of small milk jugs and sauce boats inspired by the beautiful Atlantic puffins. The Atlantic puffins originate from the western part of Norway, and north along the entire Norwegian coast. 

In April this year, we launched a lounge chair for WowDsgn. Kompis is a chair where the inspiration for the forms and lines are not as obvious. We worked on how you can have many different sitting positions. The chair has a high back which gives some shielding from the environment. The long lines extending from the back of the chair to the seat hints to the Norwegian fjords and waterfalls.

2 What advice from your Design School stays with you till today when you create things?

At school, we learned about the importance of having a thorough design process. When designing new products, we have a very playful approach, and we often use the design tools we learned at school. Another advice that stays with us, is to start making mockups at an early stage of the design process. It’s a nice way to quickly get a feeling of size and shape. 

3 How did you celebrate Norway’s National Day 17 May? What food do you crave for after a hard day at work?

On “normal days”, we start the celebration early in the morning with a champagne breakfast together with lots of friends. We all dress up in our national costumes. Later in the day, we go out and celebrate in the streets which usually are really crowded on this day. This year was quite different due to the coronavirus. We had a more laidback celebration this year, with only a small group of friends. It was strange seeing how empty the streets looked. Norwegian food is quite influenced by international cuisines, so I guess we don’t really eat that much typical “Norwegian food”. After a long day at work, a pizza tastes good. A more typical Norwegian dish, maybe, is the Norwegian waffles. We eat them with jam or brunost, a local brown cheese.

Strå is a table lamp inspired by swaying straws
Flamingo is a stool inspired by the beautiful flamingo bird. It has a minimalistic expression, and stands out as a nice sculptural object. The stool has a soft padded seat, and the handle makes it functional and easy to move around
A series of small milk jugs, Lunde is inspired by the beautiful puffins, which originate from the western parts of Norway, and north along the entire Norwegian coast. Lunde have a handmade appeal with small independent characteristics


Sara is renowned for her reindeer bone creations that highlight ethnic Sami trials and life in Norway

 Máret Ánne Sara has exhibited visual art since 2003 and often deals with political and social issues, from a Sami and reindeer-social perspective.

Sara is from a reindeer herding family in Kautokeino and currently works in her hometown. Of Sami ethnicity Sara went from herding reindeer to being one of Norway’s most exciting and vociferous artists, designers and writers. Her passion is making a statement through her work, not shying away from protesting against  state processes such as the forced culling of reindeer which impacts the livelihood of hundreds of Sami herders. 

She recently teamed up with Matt Lambert to create reindeer-bone jewellery that makes a positive contribution to global sustainability.

Pile Power and Loaded – Keep Hitting Our Jaws: Pile Power is a series of jewellery made from miniature skulls in reindeer bone porcelain and metal. Loaded – Keep Hitting Our Jaws is a necklace made of reindeer jaws, metal wire and synthetic thread. The works highlight issues of sustainable development as it relates to indigenous peoples’ practices and livelihoods across geography and culture. The collaboration also shows the importance of intersectional work between minorities, in this case indigenous and queer practitioners joining together.

Máret Ánne Sara has a distinct style that captures a powerful narrative
Pile o´Sápmi Powernecklace in dress style
Pile Power is a series of jewellery made from miniature skulls in reindeer bone porcelain and metal. The works highlight issues of sustainable development as it relates to indigenous peoples’ practices and livelihoods across geography and culture
Loaded – Keep Hitting Our Jaws is a necklace made of reindeer jaws, metal wire and synthetic thread. The works highlight issues of sustainable development as it relates to indigenous peoples’ practices


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Story by Carol Kraal. Respective photographs courtesy of Vilde Hagelund, Studio Føy and Máret Ánne Sara