From celebrated furniture and textiles to the latest in architecture and web designs, the more than 200 objects in the exhibition Nordic Cool: Hot Women Designers are among the best examples of beautiful and functional designs created in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. The exhibition includes both designers who have changed the course of decorative arts and those who are currently making contributions to contemporary design.
“A strong tradition of gender equality in the Nordic countries has given women access to educational opportunities, apprenticeships, and directorial positions in design industries,” commented NMWA Director Judy L. Larson, who conceived of the exhibition and is its co-curator. “This exhibition encourages the understanding of design within the context of culture and gender, presenting works of great beauty in a sociological setting.”
The five Nordic countries share global latitude, and much of the design generating from the area is a response to aspects of the landscape and corresponding social activities. The colors and features of the terrain, along with long summer days and cold, dark winter nights, often inform designers’ creativity. But each country possesses a distinct history and tradition that shape its design concepts and influence regional styles.
The exhibition begins with The Pioneers, influential women designers who opened the field to new generations of women artists. Thematic groupings in the exhibition center on the land and seasons and on lifestyle and values. Landscapes and Seasons feature objects ranging from Eva Schildt’s (Sweden) thermally insulated backpacks for long summer walks to Ingegerd Råman’s (Sweden) glass vases etched with frost patterns. Cycles of Life illustrates women designers’ sensitivity to age-appropriate designs, At Home features objects used in domestic spaces, which can have both positive and negative connotations for women, and Looking to the Future focuses on innovative uses of technology.
The exhibition has been generously sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers, the Institute of Museum and Library Services by an Act of Congress, Volvo Cars of North America, and IKEA, with ongoing support and commitment from the Royal Danish Embassy, the Embassy of Finland, the Embassy of Iceland, the Royal Norwegian Embassy, and the Embassy of Sweden. NMWA is also grateful for additional support from FedEx; Apartment Zero; Husqvarna Viking; 3Citron Caterers; NPS Pharmaceuticals; the Leo Rosner Foundation; Ambassador and Mrs. Lyndon L. Olson, Jr.; Iceland Naturally; the Radisson Barceló Hotel Washington; Springfield Sound; Voss Artesian Water from Norway; Bernstein Consortium Management; the Heimbold Foundation; Gladys and James Lisanby; SWEA Washington, DC; Oddi Printing; Arla Foods; Absolut Vodka; Blondell’s Accent on Events; Icelandair; Kelsen; and Ambassador John L. Loeb, Jr.