The Nordic Forum for Design History Studies was founded in Oslo in 1983. It was initiated by Fredrik Wildhagen, associate professor at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, who had gathered a small group of Nordic colleagues from museums, Institutes of Art History and design academies. The reason for opening up to broarder circles of colleagues was among other things a conversation between Fredrik Wildhagen and Mirjam Gelfer-Joergensen on various problems related to the subject, its terminology, delimitations, etc. which took place in Copenhagen the year before.
At the meeting in Oslo, a group consisting of Fredrik Wildhagen, lecturer Lasse Stackell, University of Gothenburg, and Mirjam Gelfer-Joergensen who, in 1985, organized the first seminar at the Design Museum Denmark in Copenhagen on the subject: "Nordic Functionalism 1925-1950".
Eighteen months later, the second seminar was held in Stockholm under the title of: "Design as a Language, Nordic Handicarfts and Design 1950-1970". Another eighteen months later in 1988 in Helsinki, it was followed by a third seminar under the title: "The Great Nordic Exhibition in Copenhagen, 1888". The seminar held in Copenhagen in 1991 was entitled: "Context and Perspective, the Museums of Decorative Art and Industrial Design" and like the previous seminars, the proceedings were published.
In order to reach out to a broader public, Mirjam Gelfer-Joergensen, D. Phil., established the Scandinavian Journal of Design History in 1990. From 1991 to 2005 a yearbook was published. The authors of the articles were primarily Nordic researchers, but if researchers from other countries wanted to publish in the Scandinavian Journal of Design History, it had to be on the subject of Nordic design history.The journal also contains reviews of Nordic design litterature.
Right from the outset, The Nordic Forum for Design History was organized as unbureaucratically as possible. The Nordic cities that host studies within the subject field are taking turns in organizing the seminars. The organizing commitee consists of professor Susann Vihma, Aalto University, Helsinki, curator Widar Halen, Oslo Museum of Decorative Arts and Design, intendant Love Jönsson, Röhsska Museet, Gothenburg, and professor Anders V. Munch, University of Southern Denmark,. The commitee plans the seminars, but the actual work is carried out by the hosting country. The purpose is to enhance contact and dialogue between researchers who may form small pockets within their institutions and who have to cover an ever expanding subject field.