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Scandinavian design is still seen as democratic, functional and simple, its products exemplifying the same characteristics now as they have done since the 1950s. But both the essence and the history of Scandinavian design are much more complex than this. Scandinavian Design: Alternative Histories presents a radically new assessment, a corrective to the persistent mythologies and reductive accounts of Scandinavian design. The book brings together case studies from the early twentieth century to today. Drawn from fields as diverse as transport, engineering, packaging, photography, law, interiors, and corporate identity, these studies tell new or unfamiliar stories about the production, mediation and consumption of design. An alternative history is created, one much more alive to national and regional differences and to types of product. Scandinavian Design analyses a century of design culture from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and, in so doing, presents a sophisticated introduction to Scandinavian design.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
Most 20th-century accounts of Scandinavian design have depended on cliched descriptors such as 'humane', 'democratic', 'organic' and 'blond'. The authors of the twelve highly stimulating essays in this new anthology on the subject, skilfully assembled by design historian Kjetil Fallan, overtly reject those tired terms and, instead, offer 21st-century readers a reinvigorated account that is richer, more diverse and, most importantly, more analytical and scholarly. The book brings together new information, new approaches and a new set of narratives that make us look again at the idea of Scandinavian design. These alternative histories challenge existing orthodoxies and, as such, are guaranteed to become key design historical texts of the 21st century. Professor Penny Sparke, Kingston University, London This landmark book nudges our understanding of Scandinavian design beyond IKEA and Hans Wegner's teak chairs. Heralded for some time, the subject has, until now, offered a frustratingly limited selection of literature in English. From the Reverse Vending Machine's 'Hole in the Wall' to Oslo's streamlined 'Goldfish' trams, design stars like Jacob Jensen to the Swedish Cooperative Union's plastic grocery bags and 'graffiti board', Scandinavian Design covers material that will appeal to casual readers. But its smart, knowledgeable essays make this book a first stop for anyone interested in the full story of Scandinavian design. Elizabeth Guffey, Purchase College State University of New York