Subjectivities at the Nationalmuseum

Summit has selected 24 contemporary Swedish designers for the Subjectivities exhibition at Nationalmuseum in Stockholm (pictured: Lena Bergström's sculpted glassware).

Nationalmuseum Design opens at Kulturhuset in Stockholm on 6 February. The first exhibition is a collaboration with the architecture and design podcast Summit and contains highly personal and subjective selections.

Coinciding with the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair, Subjectivities is a unique exhibition that is divided into three sections: the curators selected 24 designers; the museum then chose to display a number of their contemporary works; and those designers, in turn, chose from the treasures in the museum's collection and explain their choices. Daniel Golling and Gustaf Kjellin of Summit commented, 'We feel that the concept of this exhibition has been a good way to bring out some of the treasures from the museum's vaults and hopefully the visitors will feel the same way. There is an element of surprise in this exhibition concept that we are happy about, because we could not control what the designers would choose from the collection.'

They continue, 'After several years of working in the field of design in Sweden, we were able to select a representative group of designers, working in various parts of the design scene. Our ambition for this exhibition has been to tell the visitors something about the conditions under which designers work today and, to this end, designers who in various ways are involved in production have been chosen, ranging from Anton Alvarez (who is his own producer) to Åke Axelsson who, in order be in charge of his career took control of the Gärsnäs company.'

The exhibition includes a total of 24 designers from Sweden, including Matti Klenell who – the curators say – is equally comfortable working in the fields of furniture design and glass design, 'With equal ease he has, throughout his career, designed successful products for everyday consumer products, high-end furniture and limited edition pieces for the design gallery market. Those are the opposites that meet in his body of work, all united by a design language that is his own.'

Commenting on his involvement, Klenell states, 'To be selected in the exhibition is a great honour and I am very excited to participate. To be able to sneak behind the scenes of the Nationalmuseum to explore the collection was amazing, and the day I spent in their enormous archive was a fantastic experience. I think the exhibition should be made on a regular basis with new designers each time. It opens up for a discussion regarding the heritage the museum is entitled to document, and evokes questions as to what a permanent collection is all about. This dialogue between now and the past is enriching for both designers and museum intendants.'

Anton Alvarez, another of the selected designers who we recently profiled (see here), comments on his own selection from the museum's archive, 'My selection from the archives is a glass sculpture by Annika Jarring. In the early 2000s, before my art and design studies had begun, I saw for the first time a sculpture by Jarring. In Uppsala District Court entrée, I saw small pieces of flat glass joined together; there was a lot of other things spinning in my head at the time, but I remember how that stayed with me. I was really amazed by the piece. In the exhibition, I will show one early work of mine called Puzzling, as well a more recent piece which a chair created by the Thread Wrapping Machine and a film of its creation.'

Nationalmuseum Design is opening up in Kulturhuset in Stockholm on 6 February, with works selected by Daniel Golling and Gustaf Kjellin of Summit, collaborating with Anders Bengtsson and Micael Ernstell of the Nationalmuseum. The exhibition runs from 6 February until 22 March 2015.

Photos courtesy of Nationalmuseum.

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