Northern Lights: Scandinavian Design
May 23, 2015 – October 4, 2015
Uncover the innovative concepts that have shaped the simple yet elegant look of Scandinavian design, from the modern, clean lines of mid-century home furnishings to the inventive video game “Minecraft.”
“In the world to-day there is no group of people who have designed better objects for the home than the Scandinavians,” declared Leslie Cheek Jr., director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, in 1954. This emphatic statement appeared in the catalogue for Design in Scandinavia, a groundbreaking exhibition that traveled across North American to twenty-four cities, including Richmond, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, and Houston. Widely publicized in print and on the radio and television, the exhibition was seen by some 660,000 people, exposing a broad audience to the best of Scandinavian design and making household names of many of its featured designers and manufacturers. Commentators praised the aesthetic and functional excellence of the works they encountered, qualities that still characterize Scandinavian design today.
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Drawing from the Museum’s exceptional holdings, Northern Lights surveys Scandinavian design from its triumphant showing at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris to the present day. The exhibition places a special emphasis on objects made in the mid-twentieth century, when an interest and appreciation for Scandinavian design reached new heights both in the United States and internationally. A geographically diverse region, Scandinavia comprises five countries in northern Europe—Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland—each with its own distinct cultural identity and traditions. Yet their shared socioeconomic and political history has played a significant role in the creation of a unique and largely unified approach to design.
Through objects in a range of materials, Northern Lights explores the underlying philosophies and aesthetic traits of Scandinavian design.
We will be displayed at the exhibition with our PH Artichoke pendant lamp. PH Artichoke was designed in 1958 by Poul Henningsen for the Langelinie Pavillonen restaurant in Copenhagen, where it still hangs today. PH Artichoke has a world-famous unique sculptural design, and is viewed as an international design icon. The fixture has 72 leaves, positioned so as to provide totally glare-free light from any angle. To ensure a high level of quality, much of the production process is still carried out by hand.