Nordic Models + Common Ground Exhibition, NYC

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Nordic Models + Common Ground Exhibition, NYC

Nordic Models Exhibition – Scandinavia House New York : Architecture Information

21 Oct 2010

Nordic Models + Common Ground


29 Oct 2010 – 9 Mar 2011

An exhibition of contemporary Nordic art and design opens at Scandinavia House on October 29, 2010. Nordic Models + Common Ground: Art and Design Unfolded is organized by The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF), New York, and Norsk Form—The Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway. The first in a series of programs celebrating ASF’s centennial, the exhibition is curated by the internationally renowned architecture firm Snøhetta.

Lava Flower, 2008; water-jet-cut volcanic lava, 40 x 40 x 40 cm Lava Flower is a Toolsgalerie limited edition of 8
Lava Flower - Nordic Models + Common Ground Exhibition, NYC
image : Studiobility/Guðrún Lilja Gunnlaugsdóttir (Iceland)

Nordic Models examines a diverse selection of works, including architecture, product design, fine art, graphic design, fashion, and photography by thirty-five emerging and established artists and designers (see attached list). In so doing it offers a compelling look at contemporary Nordic art and design, highlighting shared practices and ideas and their global impact. All of the Nordic countries— Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden—are represented.

American-Scandinavian Foundation President Edward P. Gallagher states,

Nordic Models + Common Ground exemplifies the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to exploring contemporary developments in Scandinavia’s rich design tradition. Indeed, this tradition—a cultural gift to the world—is a large part of what ASF celebrates in its centennial year. We are grateful to Norsk Form and Snøhetta for creating an informative and engaging exhibition that enables us to celebrate ASF’s legacy of cultural exchange from a contemporary vantage point.”

Exhibition curator and Snøhetta co-founder Craig Dykers notes, “In curating Nordic Models + Common Ground, we purposefully disregarded national and artistic boundaries, emphasizing instead the powerful values and ideas that are shared by the Nordic countries and, by extension, by the diverse works highlighted in the exhibition. These commonalities transcend geographic, linguistic, and political differences, and have produced some of the most innovative art and design created today, work that is increasingly focused on making a positive impact on society as a whole. Indeed, the embrace of socially responsible design, which imbues the works in the exhibition, is an eloquent reflection of the egalitarian way of thinking that is at the heart of Nordic societies.”


The past fifty years have seen a flourishing of Nordic design projects that are not only focused on the social good, but that also demonstrate a high level of craftsmanship and  functionality, as well as humor, cultural commentary, and the versatile application of new technologies. Nordic Models + Common Ground strives to represent both the diversity and shared characteristics of Nordic design by including a wide variety of works, ranging from a violin to textiles, from a public outdoor shelter to lamps made from dried codfish, and from necklaces to an apartment building.

Liv Blåvarp (Norway), Butterfly Disguise II, necklace 2009
Wenge, stained maple, ebony, and reindeer horn
Nordic Models Exhibition
picture : Audbjørn Rønning, 2850 Lena, Norwayarchitects

In addition to curating the exhibition, Snøhetta worked with the Brooklyn-based Situ Studio to design its dynamic installation. It will occupy a single, undivided gallery in which objects, models, and photographs will combine to both elucidate salient details of individual projects and reveal the characteristics those projects share with others on view. The perimeter of the gallery will be lined with large-scale (eleven-by-seventeen feet) photographs, with objects installed in front of them, while in the interior of the room, photographs and objects will be displayed on specially designed, freestanding plywood structures that have been folded into various shapes, all comprising both a platform for object display and a vertical panel for photographs. (In keeping with the environmental sensitivity common to all of the projects on view, the installation was produced without creating any physical waste.)

The projects included in Nordic Models will illuminate various themes, many relating to the crossing of boundaries—between individual and social identities, tradition and innovation, new materials and long-established forms, fine art and commercial culture. A violin designed by Hans Johansson, of Iceland, for example, will reveal the role of advanced digital technology in the fabrication of a traditional musical instrument, while the combination of time-honored building techniques and new materials will be seen in Kirnu, a pavilion designed by the Finnish architecture firm JKMM in which the façade, made of a wood-plastic composite, was constructed with a shingle technique. Elsewhere, works such as Lava Flower, a limited-edition artwork by the Icelandic Studiobility/Guðrún Lilja Gunnlaugsdóttir, or the Spun Chair, by Danish designer Mathias Bengtsson, will demonstrate the innovative use of materials either found in nature or manmade.

Many of the artists and designers included in the exhibition bring to their work a focus on some of the physical and geological phenomena that shape life in the Nordic countries. Light, for example, is a focus of both Daniel Rybakken’s Daylight Entrance and Atelier Oslo’s Lantern House, both from Norway, while the historic reliance on the sea and its bounty is evoked by the “Uggi” Lights, surrealistic lamps made of codfish skins, created by Icelandic designers Fanney Antonsdóttir and Dögg Guđmundsdóttir.

Exhibition Support

Nordic Models + Common Ground has been made possible by support from William B. and Inger Gundersen Ginsberg; The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation; the ASF Centennial Fund; the Royal Norwegian Consulate General in New York; the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Consulate General of Finland in New York.

Fanney Antonsdóttir and Dögg Guđmundsdóttir (Iceland)

“Uggi” Light, 2001; Dried codfish, 70–100 cm long

Nordic Design Exhibition
photo : Mona Møllebakken

Related Symposium
A special two-day symposium, titled “Nordic Design Now,” has been organized in conjunction with Nordic Models + Common Ground and the exhibition National Triennial

2010: Why Design Now, on view at the Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, in New York, through January 9, 2011. The symposium will be held at the Cooper-Hewitt on November 10, and at Scandinavia House on November 11, as follows.

Wednesday, November 10; 7 pm
Social Awareness & Sustainability
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum
Matilda McQuaid, Deputy Curatorial Director, Cooper-Hewitt, moderates a panel discussion with leading Nordic designers on sustainability and social responsibility

and current design practices.

Thursday, November 11; 7 pm
Design Policy: Lessons Learned
Scandinavia House

Bradford McKee, editor-in-chief of Landscape Architecture Magazine, moderates a panel discussion with up-and-coming and established designers on architecture and design policies in the Nordic countries and their relationship to the commercial design market.

Tickets for each day are $15 ($10 ASF & Cooper-Hewitt members).

Founded in 1989, Snøhetta is an international architecture, landscape architecture, and interior-design company with offices in Oslo and New York City. Among the most acclaimed design firms in the world, Snøhetta is known for its creativity and its socially and environmentally responsible design. Notable projects include the revival of the ancient library of Alexandria, in Egypt; the new National Opera and Ballet, in Oslo; the National September 11 Memorial Museum at the World Trade Center site, in New York City; the King Abdulaziz Centre for World Culture, in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia; the Lillehammer Art Museum for the Winter Olympics, in Norway; and the Norwegian Embassy in Berlin, among others. The firm was recently selected to design the expansion of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the reconstruction of the public space of New York City’s Times Square.

Snøhetta is the only firm to have won two World Architecture Awards for Best Cultural Building, given in 2002 and 2008. In 2009, the firm received the Mies van der Rohe Award, and in 2004 was honored with the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

The American-Scandinavian Foundation
The American-Scandinavian Foundation (ASF) is the leading cultural and educational link between the U.S. and the Nordic countries. An American nonprofit organization, it works to build international understanding through an extensive program of fellowships, grants, intern/trainee sponsorship, publishing, and membership offerings. The ASF, which is headquartered in Scandinavia House, in New York City, celebrates its centennial in 2011. For additional information:

Norsk Form—The Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway
Norsk Form is devoted to improving lives through architecture and design, with projects that include international exhibitions, teaching, design competitions, and more. It promotes participatory processes that enable a diversity of voices to be heard in design, architecture, and urban- and local development projects, and works with design solutions that help ensure that public spaces are inclusive. Norsk Form—The Foundation for Design and Architecture in Norway is a private foundation, established in 1992 as an initiative of the Norwegian Ministry of Culture. For additional information:

Scandinavia House—The Nordic Center in America
Scandinavia House, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, is the headquarters of The American-Scandinavian Foundation. It presents contemporary Nordic culture through a wide range of ASF programs that encompass the visual arts, music, and literature, as well as business, finance, and technology. Offerings include art, design, and historical exhibitions; films; concerts; readings; lectures; symposia; language courses; and children’s programming.

Scandinavia House is located at 58 Park Avenue (at 38th Street). Admission to the gallery is free. Hours are Tuesday–Saturday, 12–6 pm. For additional information, the public may visit

Nordic Models + Common Ground

Individuals and Firms Represented in the Exhibition

BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)—architecture (firm)
Bureau Detour—design/art/urban design (firm/collective)
Jeppe Hein—sculpture and installation (individual)
Mathias Bengtsson—furniture design (individual)
Studio Louise Campbell—industrial design (individual)
Anne Kyrrö Quinn—industrial design (individual)
Anttinen Oiva Architects—architecture (firm)
David Salmela—architecture (individual)
Elina Brotherus—photography (individual)
Hollmén Reuter Sandman—architecture (firm)
JKMM Architects—architecture (firm)
NOW for Architecture & Urbanism Oy—architecture & urban design (firm)
bara Design/Bjargey Ingólfsdóttir—design (individual)
Fanney Antonsdóttir & Dögg Guðmundsdóttir—industrial design (individuals)
Hans Johansson—luthier (individual)
Katrin Ólina—graphic art and design (individual)
Landslag—landscape architecture (firm)
Studiobility/Guðrún Lilja Gunnlaugsdóttir—product- and industrial design (firm)
Atelier Oslo—architecture (firm)
BC Arkitektur Barlindhaug Consult A.S.—architecture (firm)
Daniel Rybakken—industrial design (individual)
Fantastic Norway AS—architecture (firm)
Helen and Hard—architecture (firm)
Jarmund-Vigsnæs AS—architecture (firm)
Jensen & Skodvin Arkitektkontor AS—architecture (firm)
Jorunn Sannes—artist (individual)
Liv Blåvarp—jewelry design (individual)
Marit Helen Akslen—fashion/textile design (individual)
May Bente Aronsen—industrial design (individual)
FORM US WITH LOVE—industrial design (firm)
Front—industrial design (firm)
Lars Tunbjörk—photography (individual)
Monica Förster—industrial design (individual)
Sandra Backlund—fashion design (individual)

Wingårdhs Design—architecture (firm)

Nordic Models Exhibition images / information from JC

Location: New York City, NY, USA

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