The middle of winter does not encourage to go North, but between 24 and 26 January the OSLO DESIGN FAIR was held, so I had to be brave. Oslo in winter is even rawer and more refined. Many cities are called the ‘pearl of the north’, but I think this term suits perfectly only to the capital of Norway – calm and pure architecture, simplicity and unforced elegance. The trade fair center is about 25 kilometers away from the center of Oslo. When you are driving there, you pass through several tunnels and arrive at the icy parking lot sparsely sprinkled with pebbles. So when you walk carefully, managing to reach the entrance of the building, you can finally feel like you are at home. Particularly nice home. Why?
In the morning, visitors are greeted with coffee and scones with raisins. There are four divided themed halls: Hobby & Fashion, Scandinavian design & Lifestyle, Interiors, Children & Food, and last but not least Flowers & Interiors. These are quite unusual markets because the design is understood here more artistically than technically. Very often products are presented by its designers – you can exchange an opinion with them and share your experiences. The exhibitors are mainly companies and creators from Scandinavia, but also from Germany, England, and Holland
This year, the motto of the exhibition is Identity. The four main trends are: Androgyny, Interpretations, Chlorophyll & Flowers / Botany. The most interesting seems to be Androgyny, understood as the blurring of the male-female styles separation, for example in male interiors traditionally we have glass, metal and dark grays, in feminine – softness, fabrics and pastel colors. Art or design is not meant to divide people into groups, but rather to search for new ways and means of expression. Interpretations are described as a new approach to traditional crafts – weaving, handicrafts, knitting, etc.
In Central Europe, Scandinavian design is associated with raw, simple and functional forms. Meanwhile, it seems that at least in the interiors, in the North, the opposite trend is equally popular – exotic, colonial furniture, arranging space with a lot of trinkets, accessories and decorations. Buddha figures, Far Eastern climates, Orient culture are very popular here. In the preface to the exhibition catalog, curator of the exhibition Kirsten Visdal writes about it. To paraphrase her words, the Scandinavians have a need to move away from traditional colors and materials, chosen pragmatically, so that they are universal and durable. They start looking for lightness, frivolous designs and bold colors. Nevertheless, you can see love and respect for nature – stone, glass, wood are timeless and matches everything. As they exist in nature, they are visually neutral and immortal.
If you look at fabric – it’s most likely linen or cotton, sweaters – always wool preferably – from alpaca. Cosmetics – organic, in biodegradable packaging. It is encouraging that regardless of the destiny of the interior or the product – they all are top quality, unique and genuine. The products and interiors presented at the fair delighted me with their unusual colors – walls, ceramics and furniture have individual, broken, unobvious shades. In Poland, they would be considered pale, dimmed or unfashionable, but here in specific arrangements they look sublime and subtle. Disregarded and unfashionable dark browns, brick reds and purplish blues in proper lighting, combined with plants, metal and fabrics, acquire a completely new character. This is the greatest revelation for me.
Oslo Design Fair is a place where minimalism meets splendor, longing for warmth and comfort with functionality, pragmatism, and care for the environment with tradition. The best way to summerise this event is to cite a sentence taken from the exhibition catalog: “In fact, it’s about wanting to tell a story and create a mood.” I am sure that for this mood it is worth to wander through the snow and for a moment to froze more than in Poland.
author: Maja Żądło