In the first of two reports from London Design Festival, Jessica Salter uncovers the thinking behind the four Norwegian design companies exhibiting at the Design Centre Chelsea Harbour.
As London Design Festival opens, visitors can experience both the creative vision and lifestyle values that infuse Norwegian design on the “Inside Norway Design Trail”, a series of events and displays by six Norwegian manufacturers at two of the festival’s key sites: the Design Centre at Chelsea Harbour and the Bargehouse at Oxo Tower Wharf, the iconic setting for the Material Matters design fair.
It is, says Ragnhild Grytten from Norsk Industri – the Federation of Norwegian Industries – the quality and sustainability of Norwegian design which makes it stand out from its competitors – but Norwegian design still remains something of an insider’s secret.
Four Norwegian brands are showcased in Chelsea. “We have so many incredible brands which span so many disciplines, from Hadeland Glassverk, which still hand blows its glassware and is amazing to see them at work in the factory, to Jensen beds, which has a long history in Norway, but is also one of the most technologically advanced companies. They all work with innovation and skill, and we need to bring them to the forefront of the rest of the world.”
To help promote the brands, Inside Norway – Norsk Industri’s exhibition project – has created a trail showcasing its members based at Chelsea Harbour for London Design Festival. Included are Jensen beds, Lundhs Real Stone, the glass manufacturer Hadeland Glassverk (established in 1762) and the furniture designer Eikund (a younger company formed in 2016). At Chelsea, Eikund presents its characterful “Fluffy” lounge chairs – designed in 1954 by Fredrik A Kayser – with their Norwegian sheepskins trimmed by professional hairdressers.
Tradition and detail is paramount with these designers. “It is important for us to be part of a common platform with the same identity, mission, and values,” Nina Stordalen, Marketing Manager at Jensen, says. “Together we can reflect a common Norwegian heritage, whilst showing Norwegian diversity and also get more visibility.”
The Norwegian identity and aesthetic is something the designers and brands are keen to display at LDF to a design-savvy audience. For Stordalen, “the Norwegian lifestyle is shaped by rough nature and harsh weather. These conditions demand design and quality that is made to last – as well as being practical, functional, and stylish.”
Lundhs stone, which is sourced from Larvik, typifies all three qualities. “Our stones are in a naturally neutral palette: black, blue, grey and brown,” Hege Lundh, Marketing and business development director at Lundhs, says. “They work very well with the Norwegian aesthetic of simplicity, where natural materials very often play the main part of interiors.”
Grytten says that along with top design credentials, Norwegian brands promote “a better quality of life for our consumers” because they are buying into core values integral to Norway’s way of doing business.
Sustainability is at the heart of Norwegian design and the ethos of various brands. Jensen, for example, only starts to build a bed once it has received the order, meaning no excess is produced. It also has advanced technology within its factory, “with an extra-ordinary cutting machine process that is 100% accurate and reduces wastage,” according to Stordalen.
For Hege Lundh, sustainability is not only “at the heart of how we operate our quarries and take care of the environment during the process”, but it plays into a wider point on how much we all consume. By providing high quality products that will last a lifetime, she believes will reduce the amount of raw materials we use in maintenance and renovations. “We all need to consume less and choose materials and solutions that will last a lifetime,” she says.
Hadeland Glassverk, Lundhs, Eikund and Jensen are showing as part of FOCUS/22 at Chelsea Harbour Design Centre, until 23 September
Hadeland Glassverk will remain on view in their showroom at the Design Centre.
Interested in staying in touch with Norwegian Arts and receiving news of upcoming Norwegian cultural highlights in the UK? Sign-up for our newsletter.
Read more on Design from Norwegian Arts.
Top photo: Crystal Spheres by Hadeland Glassverk (Inside Norway)