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Bringing Design to Everyone

Posted on September 13 2017


Soon-to-be-released MODERN SCANDINAVIAN DESIGN achieves its goal as the ultimate guide to a distinctive design tradition arising from five Nordic countries since 1925 to the present. During this period, Scandinavian design became a perfect expression of international modernism. Designers from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland long pursued the shared goal of social equality through better design, believing that well-made everyday goods not only enhance daily life, but should also be the birthright of all. The trademarks of this design tradition could eventually be found wherever the ideas of modernism spread.

Author MAGNUS ENGLUND, a contributor to "Modern Scandinavian Design," is co-founder of the high-end furniture retailer known as Skandium, and the previous author of two bestselling books on design. He is also a trustee of the London-based Isokson Gallery, a museum for the 1930s modernist movement. For his latest book, he experienced a unique collaboration with design expert couple, Peter and Charlotte Fiell.

In this interview, learn how many books Englund has collected on the topic of design (and where he stores them!):

What is your connection to Scandinavian design?

For me it’s much more than objects, it’s also the history of the twentieth century world-wide. After all, Scandinavian design is closely linked to the establishment of socialized governments and their idea of democratic homes for people to live in. These social issues became universal, evident in many modernized nations, regardless of different kinds of governments.

I’ve had a two-decades-long love affair with the history with Scandinavian design, and its influence in Britain and the USA in particular; for example the United Nations building in New York City is a shrine to Scandinavian design. There are many books on the subject, yet I felt there was a need to tie together object design with architecture, and to present unseen photographs and lesser known designers.

This book is meant to be the definitive volume on the subject, an instant classic, and I hope it will maintain this standing for many years to come. I expect that design aficionados, architects, design students, collectors − and those who simply want inspiration for their own homes − will enjoy the book. It also looks really good on any coffee table!

Tell us about your writing process, and what research went into this book?

My research process comes from my career as a Scandinavian furniture retailer, and through this connection, I have met many designers and manufacturers over the years. This included visiting many iconic buildings across Scandinavia. Meanwhile, I’ve been collecting books on Scandinavian design for decades, so many that I now have an external storage space for them as they have outgrown my home.

I’ve done two previous books on Scandinavian design, both bestsellers, and I’ve occasionally written for magazines in Britain and Sweden, where I hail from. I also published an academic book on the Isokon, a famous 1930s Modernist building in London.

It’s been a delight to work with Charlotte & Peter Fiell, who have some 40 books under their belt. Their book “1000 Chairs” was a key document when I set up my furniture retail business, and I know it has been essential for many other people too.

Why does your latest book focus on 1925 as the origin of Scandinavian design?

The Paris Exhibition of 1925 was supposed to be the pinnacle of Art Deco, yet it also featured a house by Le Corbusier, which heralded the arrival of Modernism (or the International Style, as it was became known). The Scandinavians really lapped this up, and the Stockholm Exhibition of 1930 was their response, establishing Modernism as the style of the future. After a wobbly period during the 1980s and 1990s, Scandinavian designers are back at reassessing Modernism, but in a new way for the 21st century.

-- Magnus Englund is a co-author of Modern Scandivanian Design, Laurence King, 2017

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