An exhibition on the works of Sveinn Kjarval (1919–1981) at the Museum of Design and Applied Art focuses on his important pioneering work in Iceland in the field of furniture and interior design from 1950 to 1970. It was a time of new ideas on modern and sensible housing where furniture was primarily meant to be simple, light and functional, made of materials that could be enjoyed without ornament.

Sveinn Kjarval was a prolific designer of modern fixtures for shops, restaurants and public spaces which trends and new demands have now mostly erased. They have however been preserved in photographs and drawings that will be part of the exhibition. A popular interior designer, Sveinn Kjarval also worked on designs for over 100 homes as well as designing bespoke furniture. Kjarval’s furniture have stood the test of time, in line with his ideology of the importance of quality in design and workmanship. His furniture from this time period can still be found in Icelandic homes and they clearly resonate with today’s world.

Sveinn Kjarval’s furniture from the Museum’s collection are the main part of the exhibition as well as privately-owned pieces graciously lent to the Museum specifically for this occasion. Kjarval primarily used the Icelandic materials available at the time, using almost exclusively Icelandic wool upholstery and skins on chairs and was likely one of the first to use various types of rocks of Iceland in interior design.

The exhibition is meant to support the collection policy of the Museum of Design and Applied Art in the field of furniture and interior design and is the Museum’s contribution to the history of design in Iceland.

Photo: Vigfús Birgisson