Towards modernity in Icelandic design The Museum of Design and Applied Art’s summer exhibition focuses on a few aspects of the arrival of modernism in Icelandic domestic interiors from about 1930 and into the 1980s. The majority of the objects exhibited here are from the museum’s own collection, along with some from other Icelandic museums and private owners.

This leads to some chance encounters with objects and tales of design, encounters that are relevant today. A variety of well-known design objects are exhibited, particularly furniture that has gained national recognition for bringing fresh ideas into local design, as well as unexpected objects ranging from anonymous design to the works of progressive furniture and textile designers. Several objects of note are given special attention, recalling the fact that contemporary design often echoes the past and the old Icelandic proverb that “resemblances are far from rare.” The bounds of tradition and modernity in furniture design are examined, with special attention to the arrival of new materials like plywood and chromium-plated tubular steel, the use of iron and novel strings of various kinds, and how pioneers in furniture design used wood in the heyday of furniture manufacturing. Attention is drawn to the initiatives of Icelandic women in the making of modern upholstery fabrics and rugs after 1945 and the arrival of textile screen printing about 25 years later. The exhibition is meant to support the collection policy of the Iceland Museum of Design and Applied Art in the areas of furniture and textiles, and to mediate new knowledge in Icelandic design history. Curators: Arndís S. Árnadóttir and Elísabet V. Ingvarsdóttir, design historians