The entire spectrum of Norwegian design is gaining attention on the international scene. Whether it is graphic, interior or furniture design; clothes fashion, industrial design, cyber-design for the ever-evolving Internet, or combinations of these – quality and creativity is being recognized. Norwegian design success lies in individuality supported by tradition, excellent education, and a solid national support network.
Tradition Runs Deep
Norwegian design roots run deep; they are a part of the mountains, fjords and all of its stunning nature. Dale of Norway reflects this beauty in its rich history and heritage of finest quality knit- and sportswear for men, women and children. Known as the genuine Norwegian sweater brand, Dale prides itself on authenticity and tradition. Understanding customer needs keeps the company in step with modern tastes and fashion. According to Dales’ design team, “We work with traditional materials and design elements, but are able to constantly develop the products by updating patterns, colours, cut and functional details.”
Prize-winning collections of sweaters and other knitwear from Oleana allow customers to experience the cutting edge where industry and craftsmanship meet. The recipient of numerous design and quality awards for knitted garments, skirts, coats, blankets, belts and accessories, Oleana creations reflect the subtle balance between hi-tech production and the gentle finishing touches made at the hands of Oleana employees.
In Norway, there is a fine line between fashion and sport, and Olympic champion Kari Traa is an example where love of the outdoors has translated into a vibrant line of clothing. Born and raised in the western Norwegian mountains, Kari loves the daredevil feel of skiing, and her clothing creations exude this same extroverted energy. Appealing to sporty girls of all ages with a love for extreme sports and a sense of adventure, all brand creations are inspired by Kari and Norwegian nature.
Haltenbanken is a textbook example showing how designers work to help clients succeed. The company has worked with Kari Traa since 2005, beginning with visual identity, website, printed material, clothes collection graphics and, naturally, the logo. Elise Sæle from Haltenbanken observes, “The logo was extremely important, the butterfly being the symbol of sporty femininity, and represented in visual language the Kari Traa line of clothing.” The latest addition to the world of Kari Traa is a concept store in her hometown of Voss, the first Kari Traa boutique worldwide. With Haltenbanken, the Kari Traa universe has become a reality.
Norwegians believe in the power and warmth of wool, and Devold has known this for over 150 years with its outdoor, knitwear and sports clothing. Bjørn Dæhli has a shorter history, but what an impact! This 29-time world and Olympic champion has used his knowledge about sporting success to develop a complete range of “Bjørn Dæhli Technical Wear”. In fashion as with skiing, only the best is good enough, as the most successful cross-country skier in history says, “I always give 100 percent.”
Moods of Norway is a company defining a young lifestyle in a positively contagious fashion. Started by designers Simen Staalnacke and Peder Børresen, the company is represented in North America, Europe and Asia with the self-proclaimed goal to make happy clothes for happy people around the world. Vera & William fashions are dedicated to an ethical and sustainable development in the textile industry, believing in pure quality and trueness to nature, with lines of clothing specially developed for the changing seasons.
An impressive number of Norwegian fashion designers have found success, including Ida Gullhav, Arne & Carlos and Kristian Aadnevik. Ida Gullhav is known for her creative design and “Made by Me” lingerie; Aadnevik is known for his fashion designs and his creative attitude all over Europe and beyond; and Valdres-based Arne & Carlos draws creative inspiration from its Scandinavian background and love of nature. These inspiring fashion designers represent the new breed of fashion forces – now and in the future.
Making the Difference
Leila Hafzi is a fashion designer dedicated to making a difference. In 1997, she presented her first collection, introducing the idea of eco and ethical trade to the Norwegian high-end fashion industry. Ten years later her goal remains unchanged; to champion eco and ethical trade in the fashion industry on a global basis, and continue developing a 100 percent environmentally-friendly production cycle.
This season, her company Nepal Productions is presenting a collection drawing inspiration from the global topic of environmental changes; she is also starting a cooperative effort with the Norwegian Peace Corps and Nepal. Several company employees will be working in Katmandu for one year with clothing production, and two of the most skilled tailors from Katmandu will work in Norwegian company facilities. In 2008, Hafzi creations will be represented as part of Norwegian design in New York for the first time, yet another signal that her eco fashion is truly coming into style.
Taking care of the children is STOKKE, a company that designs and creates innovative products to make life safer for the little ones, including environmentally-friendly furniture such as the Tripp-Trapp high chair, strollers, nursery and transportation products. Another Norwegian company looking to change the way people think is ElBil Norge, who manufactures, markets and maintains electric vehicles. Featuring functional design utilizing practical solutions, ElBil’s Kewet Buddy is a friendly car with fewer parts and less maintenance.
The company LESS knows that design functionality can save lives. The LESS (Light Emergency Stretcher Systems) stretcher system is designed to transport patients from the scene of an accident, and is suitable for mass-casualty emergency situations such as earthquakes, landslides and floods. Designed by K8 Industrial Design, the LESS was nominated for the Honours Award for Design Excellence for its light weight functionality geared to rescue, a product providing customized equipment to meet fundamental needs of patients and medical personnel.
Norwegian furniture is fashionable and comfortable, and companies such as Aksel Hansson, Børn Designmøbler, Hødnebø, Ekornes and Fjord Fiesta use the right combination of design aesthetics and functionality. Håg is another fine example of design in action, with its Peter Opsvik-designed Conventio Wing chair having excellent ergonomics, giving any room a distinct identity with its convincing environmental profile.
Savo designs, manufactures and markets office seating, recently strengthening its position within quality seating solutions with the launch of the Savo XO Conference chair. The Savo XO Conference Chair is a Norwegian chair that combines highly developed technical solutions with an appealing visual identity and exclusive design. “A Swedish survey shows that the aesthetics of our surroundings influences our productivity. I am positive that XOs in the board room will result in better board meetings.” observes Ervin Kohn, Savo CEO.
StokkeAustad Design Service creates value through design. Jonas Ravlo Stokke and Øystein Austad are both alumni of the Oslo School of Architecture, and have already experienced success as the Norwegian Design Newcomers of the Year in 2005. Ready for a 2008 launch, their RSVP chair will occupy a special niche, lower than a dining chair and yet not a full lounge chair. The elongated armrests provide user comfort as well, with relaxation made simple. Jonas Stokke says, “The chair was designed to feel bigger than it actually is, and relates to the user as well as its special surroundings in a unique way, a uniqueness we pursue in all our design work.”
Creating a Unique Environment
In this land of the midnight sun, nature stimulates a special brand of creativity. Scandinavian Surfaces specializes in what they call “patterns for any surface”, offering original designs and solutions for products that include fabrics, wallpaper, building facades, interior decoration and much more. Norway Says is a company that originally focused on furniture design, but now has found international success with design of textiles, lamps, electronics and other forms of expression. Sukker Design helps clients create their own retail environments, saying that “the perfect package and retail space should be a balance of function and attitudes” and their success shows that they have found the right balance. Other designers such as Funkle and Permafrost are also making their indelible mark on the design world.
The Oslo based graphic design agency Bleed is arguably the most lauded design company in Norway since the turn of the millennium, bringing home dozens of awards for clients such as Sony PSP, Telenor, the Oslo Philharmonic and national Norwegian broadcaster NRK. Offering the entire range of design services, including design strategy, concept development and project management, Bleed maintains a high level of creativity; balanced with an understanding of client needs, clients that include Deutsche Bank, ALU, Diesel, Hermes in Japan, Snøhetta, the Norwegian Royal Family and Pepsi Co.
CEO Kenneth Pedersen has some insights regarding Bleed’s sustainable success, “We are working close with our clients to give them the competitive edge they need to be recognized and appreciated in their segment with stunning communication concepts and design. Bleed constantly challenges the border between graphic design, art, technology and commercial
brand identity to be able to serve our clients in the best possible way. Last but not least, we have a greatly motivated bunch of colleagues that never stops to surprise with their view on the surroundings”.
The Seeds of Creativity
True design means finding solutions, and Norway has a wealth to offer. Companies such as Techni AS, Simon & Gaare, Ghostwriter, Kadabra Produktdesign, Goriljaworks, Innovativoli, Panorama and others use elements of industrial, graphic, product and other forms of design to create value for their clients. Functionality, creativity, integration and quality are part of everyday life for these top-notch professionals.
Identifying a need, the industrial design company Accendo knew that when couples retire for the evening, one partner often likes to read while the other wants to sleep. Researching the market and finding only traditional lamps that produced too much light, Accendo began a creative process with the lamp producer Northern Lighting. Examining different technical solutions and designs, the process culminated in the creation of the patented LED night lamp Seed, designed to provide just the right amount of reading light. The lamp’s flexible 60cm long arm directs light where needed, and is easily switched on and off by turning the lamp head. An interior designers’ dream, Seed can be matched to any rooms design as the lamp head is covered in fabric and can be easily changed, is environmentally friendly, stays cool and is fire safe.
Serious Fun & Creativity
The Bergen National Academy of the Arts continues to produce high powered young designers, including the partners in TRØKK16, where serious fun and a love for details lead to experimentation with new materials and approaches to design. Focusing on furniture and lightning, TRØKK16 has exhibited at home and abroad, including the New York Design Week. Several prestigious awards have been brought home to their “test studios” in Bergen, including the Nordic Design prize 2006 for the SantinoCoppiCalla’ shelving system and the Luxo prize 2007 for the lamp ‘Loop’.
Tveit & Tornøe originally worked with furniture design, but is now expanding into other categories, launching no less than 5 products in one day during the 2007 Designers Saturday in Oslo. That same day, Atle Tveit and Lars Tornøe staged yet another product launch in Paris. With creations as varied as the Wild Bill coathanger and the Copenhagen lounge chair, this dynamic duo will be a design force in the spotlight for years to come.
Winning when it Counts
Lillehammer is the headquarters for the sporting equipment company Swix, who knows that the human body was created for movement, and the human mind for experience. Company design is recognized by skiers and Nordic walkers everywhere, and in particular, the award winning Force 10 ski poles features the revolutionary combination of style and durability where special attention has been given to ergonomics, aerodynamic shape, stiffness and low weight.
This has been the result of a close partnership with Formel Industridesign, a key alliance for Svein Pedersen, Swix Product Manager, “Our cooperation with Formel started in 1995 and we have completed 14 projects together. Formel has developed a unique knowledge about our market, products and philosophy. We have received 5 design prizes and last year Force 10 received the European Ski award at ISPO 06, also nominated for the Norwegian Award for Design Excellence.”
Formel Industridesign knows the importance of design in helping companies improve their image, functionality and profits. Formel’s Geir Eide says, “Since 2003 we have completed 26 products for the lighting company Glamox, and there are more in the pipeline. Our creative cooperation has helped Glamox increase both market share and profitability. One of these many successful efforts resulted in the Glamox D20, a product that received the Award for Design Excellence, a lamp both functionally unique and aesthetically appealing.”
Stylish Ship Ahoy!
The Norwegian shipping industry knows that working with knowledgeable industrial designers can help calm rough seas. Prize-winning Abry Design is an excellent example, and is recognized as the first to use advanced 3D CAD to fully visualize a craft during the design process. Abry has 20 years of shipping design experience, beginning in 1988 with delivery of a 35m Fast Ferry Catamaran, followed by the design and delivery of the Koegelwick, a 350 pass Catamaran in aluminium capable of speeds up to 40 knots an hour. This vessel was the first Cat to have completely closed foredeck, proving the vessel extremely seaworthy and a forerunner in design.
Abry Design has built an impressive portfolio of design activities within shipping, with projects including responsibility for exterior lines and interior design, steering house layout and superstructure design. The company also has a long list of clients within industrial, retail, packaging, sport, medical and communication design.
There’s Something Happening Here
Frost Produkt is an Oslo design company proving that dedication and creativity leads to success. Recent projects include the design of a line of mailboxes clearly upgrading traditional image and functionality. The mailboxes feature zinc-coated sheet steel and powder coated paint, lockable lids, drainage holes and grates to keep letters safe and dry in even the most inclement weather. As the magazine Scanorama observed, “What could be better than a brand new mailbox to wow your mailman and evoke the envy of your neighbours?”
Frost’s creative collaborations with multimedia artists Camille Norment and Knut Åsdam have resulted in a pedestrian overpass combining art and the ability to track city bus traffic. With a fractured mosaic of 350 RGB light tiles whose dynamically changing colours and patterns are determined by the movement of the city busses that pass underneath, bus locations along their route are tracked with GPS technology. The locations are abstractly mapped onto the design such that the patterns change with the time of departure of the approaching busses.
“The time you spend is the life you live” is the slogan 360°Produktdesign used in cooperation with the Norwegian watchmaker Cognitime for the wristwatch that follows the continuous circle of day and night throughout the year. This unique piece of functional art allows the user to look at – and organize – life in a whole new light. This wristwatch is called Døgn, meaning the circular 24-hour day, featuring the first circular digital menu system available in a watch, where design is in unison with functionality.
A Fine Balance
Jøtul prides themselves on their craftsmanship as a leading manufacturer of cast iron hearths since 1853. Not being content to simply fall back on the success that the company has enjoyed for generations, the award winning Jøtul F 370 was a concept developed with the aim of being entirely different than the barrel-shaped solutions that are readily available. In a cooperative effort with Hareide Designmill, the company rose to the challenge and created a range that is both elegant and functional. Benedikte Solberg, Jøtul Vice President Marketing comments, “One key to company success is that we look for improved levels of production processes, as well as aiming for a high level of performance and the best combination in form and functional design.”
Figgjo is an innovative supplier of chinaware, with a product range covering all functional requirements in professional kitchens and restaurants. Professional kitchens and restaurants demand innovation and creativity, and Figgjo Platform’s combination of Japanese aesthetics and Scandinavian functional style makes the product something special, both in the kitchen and on the table. In addition, the Platform has been recognized by the Norwegian Design Council for its holistic style and functionality that presents food in new and exciting ways. Other prize-winning products such as the Svai only help the company strengthen its leading position in the market.
Time and space have always challenged human communication and interaction. Now, these frontiers are being altered by the Internet, where cyber-design requires function and aesthetics in a way never before experienced. As more and more people and businesses join the Internet bandwagon, the need for simplicity and positive user experiences becomes the measure of success. Cutting-edge Norwegian designers on the cyber-front include Making Waves, with everything under one roof that includes designers, system architects, project managers and strategic advisors.
For interaction designers MTO-Lab, simplicity means removing everything that’s not relevant, frequently used or functional, and then using Interaction Design to build global relations for their customers. According to MTO-Lab, the traditional website is dead, and the future lies in Interaction Design. As Pål Eirik Paulsen says, “Our mantra is web minimalism. Our focus is fixed on the user. We know that clear goals and simple flows provide good experiences. Users of today are extremely task-oriented. Well-designed web solutions save time, provide customer loyalty and remove physical space as a factor, consequently saving the environment. Interaction Design defines the web of the future.”
Norwegian design means better products. Look to Norway to see how design originality, function, aesthetics, creativity and quality will change the way you see design, now and forever.