Klubben: The Norwegian Designers Union
“Time is not the achievement of an isolated and lone subject, but is the very relationship of the subject with the Other…” — Emmanuel Levinas, Time & the Other, 1947
Following an exhibition at DogA in Oslo, 17 members of the Klubben association and alliance of emerging Norwegian designers will be displayed at the On Time exhibition at the Docks-en-Seine during Paris Design Week in September. “Time is both untouchable and abstract, while simultaneously visible to the naked eye through the cycles that people go through in a lifetime: seasons, light levels throughout the day and night, and visible changes in those around us help us grasp the passage of time”, explains Benedicte Sunde, General Manager of DogA Norwegian Centre of Design and Architecture. TLmag met with Klubben’s three founders and among them, Sverre Uhnger.
TLmag: What are the roots of Klubben? How would you define it?
Sverre Uhnger: Klubben is an independent social network by and for emerging Norwegian designers. The events and exhibitions we do are based on volunteer work and collaborations with organisations and companies. I founded Klubben along with Victoria Günzler and Sara Wright Polmar in 2011. Today it consists of 25 talented members. Klubben’s main goal is to promote Norwegian design, nationally and internationally. We wish to contribute to creating arenas where fresh designers can show their ideas and their work. We also hope to increase fellowship and cooperation between designers as well as other central players within the industry.
TLmag: How would you define the culture of Norwegian crafts and design today? How do you position Klubben at a national and international level?
S.U.: The design scene is very alive and there are many talented designers emerging from Norway right now. But there are few established meeting places and arenas for product and furniture designers. Klubben is all about collaborating in an inspiring network and working towards the same goals. Norwegian design is receiving well-deserved recognition and we want to contribute to this by creating events and exhibitions like On Time. Working together can build great strength and provide increased motivation and enthusiasm. Klubben is an initiative by designers for designers. The response Klubben has received so far is overwhelming, and confirms our belief in the future of Norwegian design and this initiative.
TLmag: Based on the selection of Klubben for DogA in Oslo and then Paris, what are the projects you would like to highlight?
S.U.: When we do exhibitions we do not curate old object; we always give the designers a brief and everyone has to make a new object. Highlighting projects is difficult and not really up to us as initiators, but we can say that the exhibition includes a range of different objects, each telling a story about the designer, his or her interpretation of time and a specific moment. This shared story of our everyday lives enhances how we interact with objects in the course of a day.
TLmag: How are you building up the international promotion and recognition of Klubben?
S.U.: We hope to contribute to the promotion of Norwegian product and furniture design on the international scene. With Klubben as a group and its members attending fairs and other events around the world, we aim to show that Norwegian design can compete with its Scandinavian neighbours and the rest of the world. Many of the members are invited to initiatives such as InsideNorway and 100% Norway, which shows that the design scene in Norway is very much alive and that there is a need for different platforms to showcase at.
TLmag: What other international events do you have in the pipeline for 2013-2014? How will you sustain the commercial development of your design-led activities and productions?
S.U.: On Time is travelling to Paris. We have also been invited to several design events in Europe this autumn that we hope to attend. The social and professional network of Klubben and its members is constantly evolving. We hope to be able to present our members and their great work at various venues.
TLmag: Do you have any anecdotes from the history of applied arts and design through today that highlight the relationship between France and Norway?
S.U.: We are very grateful for the opportunity to exhibit at Now! Le Off, supported by the Norwegian Embassy in Paris and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. France has a special position in the European history of art and Norwegian artists have often travelled there to participate in exhibitions and to gain inspiration. Edvard Munch spent a lot of time in France, for example, and it is said that he painted his first scream there while visiting a colleague in Nice. The painting is called Fortvilelse (1892) and is at the Thielska Galleriet in Stockholm. Klubben is looking forward to visiting Paris!