Coming events

Nordic Forum for Design History 2018, November 23-24
Iceland’s Museum of Design and Applied Arts, Garðabær

Call for papers on the Nordic Forum 2018 theme, se below, or short presentations on new projects on Nordic design history. Send short abstracts, max 250 characters, deadline 20/6, to . We will decide on acceptance and reply before 1/9.

We have received funding to be able to offer two nights accommodation and fee for ten presenters.

For other participants we expect a fee of 100 € for catering during the program. Further details on registration will follow after 20/6.

Theme: Copies, Classics & Traditions
Originality seems to be an overarching ideal in modern design, where copying has the lowest esteem. This is inherited from Romanticist notions of art and dominates modern art and architecture as well. Laws and regulations against design copies are often based on intellectual property rights despite they are difficult to judge legally. Copying in this sense is seen as plagiarism, as stealing ideas, not just quoting or repeating forms.

However, copying means also to some extent confirming, and it has had – and still have – a proper function in education and tradition. Traditional craft education was based on copying, and the skills were developed in making exact copies. Though modern design education is explicitly about creativity and original innovations, there might still be tacit lines between when to break rules and when to align the aesthetic norms of the teachers and the school. There would be no training without following and confirming some rules or models, and academics as well have to show skills to reproduce ideas and schemes.

In the history of Nordic design traditions and schools are central references to confirm common identities and ideals. We highlight some designs as original and canonise them as design classics. Being ‘classics’, however, means that they are used as models by followers. The status as classic is confirmed by later versions or reproductions. And some of the early Scandinavian furniture classics were even versions of traditional types, as type form was an ideal in Functionalism. In this sense the copying of types and models played a significant role in Nordic design, e.g. the schools of Kaare Klint and Carl Malmsten.

In the heydays of Scandinavian Modern the Icelandic designers were mostly educated in Copenhagen, and as they returned to Iceland, they proved their skills in producing designs sometimes with close similarity to designs of their teachers or international schools. But this was an important aspect of the introduction of modern design to Icelandic consumers as an urge to confirm the identity of a modern lifestyle. And we see such traits in all the Nordic countries as alignment and confirmation of traditions as well as modern identities, if we go beyond the black and white understanding of originals versus copies.

The presentations and discussions of Nordic Forum 2018 unfold the productive role of copying to cultural processes and historical developments in Nordic design, beyond illegal plagiarism.

The programme will contain two keynote lectures, sessions of presentations, guided tour at the museum, a panel debate and guided tour on domestic and public interior design and architecture in Garðabær.

The two invited lecturers will be Stina Teilmann-Lock, Assoc. Prof. , PhD, University of Southern Denmark, expert on IPR in design, Mari Lending, professor, Oslo School of Architecture, architectural historian, and Guðmundur Oddur, professor, Art Academy of Iceland, expert in Icelandic visual culture.

The panel will consist on four national representatives of Nordic Forum (Susann Vihma, FI; Love Jönsson, S; Widar Halén, N; Anders V. Munch, DK) plus Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir and Harpa Þórsdóttir.

Presentations may be in both English and the Scandinavian languages, as Nordic Forum wishes to promote both inter-Nordic exchanges as well as internationalisation of Nordic research.

Convenors: Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, director of Hönnunarsafn, & Anders V. Munch, Prof., Dr.phil. University of Southern Denmark

Iceland’s Museum of Design and Applied Arts

Read more about the place of this years seminar

Iceland’s Museum of Design and Applied Arts

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