Northern European design porn of the highest order!
Scandinavian Design by Charlotte Fiell and Peter Fiell Taschen 2013, 704 pages, 6.8 x 7.4 x 1.7 inches
$15 Buy a copy on Amazon
A stupefying collection of design from the patchwork of Northern European nation states vaguely known as “Scandinavia,” Scandinavian Design is both eye candy and an education. Through 700+ biography-driven illustrated pages we’re led from the decorative to the industrial, from the design we live with every day and rarely consider, to the pieces we covet, and to the innovations that never made it past their prototype.
When we think of Scandinavian Design we tend to think mid-century – the sexy bent wood furniture of Alvar Aalto, the smooth forms of Dansk, the irresistibly groovy world of Verner Panton – and while the book does give ample space to the iconic, we’re reminded that Scandinavian design doesn’t begin and end mid-twentieth century. The authors cover every significant Northern European design influence over the past 100+ years, from the arcane to the ordinary, from slippers to Saabs, while providing an important and intriguing contextual relationship that allows for a more meaningful understanding of the influences and evolution that informs one design development to another. And because there are never more than two or three pages devoted to any one designer or design house, you can jump in anywhere and get a design fix on the fly.
Highlighting the modern while encouraging us to contemplate the simple, functional, everyday beauty that is Fiskars scissors, Electrolux vacuums, Legos, or a set of stacking spouted melamine mixing bowls by Rosti, there are surprises here of all stripes – like the design of early mobile phones and Hasselblad cameras, to ambitious efforts like Timo Salli’s Jack-in-the-Box television. Warning: May induce design fatigue even among die-hards, but every time you pick up this volume you’ll discover something new.
– Matt Maranian