Stig Lindberg
– a popular designer, brand strategist and humorist

Photo: Hilding Ohlson. Copyright Nationalmuseum

A major exhibition to open at the Nationalmuseum on 11 May

Stig Lindberg (1916-1982) is one of Sweden´s most popular designers. His career lasted from about 1937 to 1980 during a "golden age" for Swedish industrial arts. The Nationalmuseum´;s exhibition presents Stig Lindberg in his role as a unique designer. But it also addresses the manner in which the craft industry dealt with brand management and copyright. During the 1950s and 1960s Stig Lindberg was one of the leading designers of household items that were accessible to almost everyone in the Swedish welfare state. The items that he designed at that time are still highly sought after. The discussion of authorial copyrights links up with today’s debate about illegal downloading of music and film files from the Internet. Images can be spread just as easily. Developments in copyright law seek to control this both with regard to showing the pictures as such and of reproducing them. Does copyright conflict with creativity? Do copyrights serve the interests of artists? The exhibition aims to give an historical perspective on today’s situation. The Nationalmuseum will show some 300 items from the museum’s own collections, as well as pieces loaned from other museums and private collectors.

Stig Lindberg is perhaps best known for his table services like Berså, Spisa Ribb and Terma as well as for the craft items that he produced during his long period of employment at the Gustavsberg ceramic factory outside Stockholm. But Stig Lindberg also collaborated with textile designer Astrid Sampe in producing designs for the NK department store’s Textile Studio and illustrated author Lennart Hellsing´s hugely successful books of rhymes for children. Lindberg also worked with enamels in the bathtub department at Gustavsberg and designed glass for the Målerås glassworks. The Gustavsberg concern was owned by the Swedish Co-operative Union and Stig Lindberg also worked for other businesses that were owned by the Co-op. He even designed a television set for Luma. And he was responsible for a range of high-quality plastic items for Gustavsberg.

Stig Lindberg´s artistic activities illustrate a highly successful collaboration between artist and industry. Collaboration between artists and manufacturers was something that developed strongly during the 20th century and that is now studied – and criticized from several aspects. Criticism mainly concerns the notion of educating taste; that what was good taste was dictated by the Swedish Society for Industrial Design and the companies that worked in this spirit. Stig Lindberg was somewhat opposed to this, sometimes working in accordance with current taste and sometimes stridently challenging it. In these cases Stig Lindberg the humorist is very much in evidence.

The status of authorial copyrights changed during the 20th century as industry developed and economic growth was a priority concern. Today the digital revolution has further altered the situation and the original purpose of copyrights has largely disappeared. Stig Lindberg was very much alive to these issues and he defended his own artistic expression while contributing to the development of public discussion of the issues.

A catalogue is being produced by the Nationalmuseum for the exhibition. The catalogue has been designed like an exclusive monthly magazine. It is aimed both at collectors of Stig Lindberg’s many designs and to people interested in the issue of immaterial rights. The catalogue runs to some 150 pages, two-thirds of which are devoted to colour illustrations. There are articles by curator Karin Linder, Fil. dr. Helena Kåberg, Katarina Renman-Clausson, doctoral student in copyright law at Stockholm University and Gunilla Kihlgren, glass artist and chair of KIF (Society of Craftspeople and Industrial Designers)

The exhibition is open until 25 February 2007.

Södra Blasieholmshamnen
Phone 08-51 95 43 00

Photo: Hans Thorwid. Copyright Nationalmuseum
Copyright Nationalmuseum
Photo: Bodil Karlsson. Copyright Nationalmuseum
Photo: Bodil Karlsson. Copyright Nationalmuseum
Photo: Bodil Karlsson. Copyright Nationalmuseum