(originally appeared in Saab Magazine)
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The long and glorious “golden age” of Scandinavian design (from the 1930s to 1970s) provided the model upon which the international notion of Good Design was built.
Today, the core values of Good Design – durability, integrity, affordability, practicality, sustainability – continue to resonate in Scandinavian design, which remains wedded to the philosophy that well-designed objects should be enjoyed by everyone, not merely by a wealthy few.
The deeply-held conviction that the products of Good Design are the birthright of all has motivated contemporary Scandinavian designers, as much as their illustrious predecessors, to concentrate on developing simple but beautiful wares for everyday domestic use. In this regard, over the last few years in particular, a number of outstanding products have been conceived for manufacturers who understand the many benefits of promoting good, democratic design. These objects, the fruit of today’s designers, are refreshingly original especially in form and use of materials and represent a new sculptural confidence in Scandinavian design.
The great Northern Star of this new generation is without doubt the young Finnish designer Harri Koskinen, whose well-known ice-cube-like Block light for Design House Stockholm has enjoyed remarkable international sales success since it appeared in 1998.
More recently, he won the highly coveted Compasso d’Oro award (essentially a design-world Oscar) for his beautiful molded oak plywood Muu chair created for the Italian manufacturer, Montina. Koskinen has also been busy designing for the famous Iittala glassworks in Finland, which has just launched his new smaller-sized Lantern candlestick/vase. Believing that, “the fulfilling of basic needs remains the most important activity”, Koskinen’s work is imbued with an abiding essentialism that combines innovation, functionalism and simplicity with refined Finnish artistry. In fact, contemporary design really doesn’t get much better than his highly practical “tools for living”.
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