The Century of the Child. Nordic Design for Children – from 1900 to today

The Century of the Child. Nordic Design for Children - from 1900 to today

This exhibition compiles for the first time Nordic design for children from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. Its title comes from an international pamphlet by the Swedish social reformer Ellen Key declaring the 20th century to be the “century of the child”. In the background of the present exhibition is the Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900–2000, an exhibition curated by Juliet Kinchin and Aidan O´Connor at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which drew large audiences.

The exhibition seeks to illustrate connections between products and environments specially designed for children with the development of society. Viewing the history of modern design from the perspective of children makes it possible to consider the significance of the education and living environment of children also at present, and to address the role of children in consumer society.

Understanding children as a special group and designing special products for them are related to the role of children and their opportunities to engage in activities in society. The Nordic countries have been forerunners in the design of environments for children. The exhibition will feature furniture, toys, books, clothing, school architecture, playgrounds and public spaces, posters and advertising, health-care and safety products, art projects and aids for children.

The exhibits include prime examples of Nordic design, such as baby high chair 616 by Ben af Schultén and IKEA furniture, and work by world-famous names such as Alvar Aalto, Kay Bojesen, Olafur Eliasson and Tove Jansson. Finnish pioneers of design for children included in the exhibition are Kaj Franck, Artek, Lappset and the maternity products package provided by the National Pensions Institute KELA. Work by a number of unknown and anonymous designers will also be on show. In addition, the exhibition will present the Nordic origins of internationally beloved brands such as BRIO, LEGO and Marimekko and historical and modern innovations for broader audiences.

Design Museum has produced this exhibition in association the Vandalorum Museum of Sweden and Design Museum Denmark. It will come to Finland directly from Denmark.