Introduction on Seminar on Design

Description: Spring 2000

Thank you,
it is an honour to be here at the American Craft Museum. I want start by thanking Holly Hotchner and David McFadden – both prominent leaders within the field of art and design – and good friends of Sweden. They are both knowledgeable and interested in the special tradition of Scandinavian design.

Today’s seminar focuses on the new generation in Swedish furniture design, with the participation of designers and producers from the Swedish province of Småland.

This part of Sweden is primarily know abroad for its glass industry. But in Sweden, it is equally know for its furniture industry – this is, for instance the province where the founder of IKEA has his roots. The furniture industry of Småland was – and this is both typical and interesting – founded by Swedish emigrants returning from the US.

In terms of the percentage of the population who emigrated to the US, Sweden ranks third – after Ireland and Norway. And by far the largest share of them came from Småland.

During the great wave of emigration, 1.2 million Swedes left for America. What is less known is that 200,000 of them returned to Sweden. And they returned with new ideas with regard to production and marketing ,a sense of chutzpah, and innovative thinking . They renewed not only Swedish industry – but also popular organisations and political parties.

So now we have come full circle. The furniture industry in Småland expanded thanks to returned emigrants and the fresh impulses that they brought with them from America. It is therefore fitting that we repay this debt through this seminar in co-operation with the American Craft Museum on the best of contemporary Swedish furniture design.