Ladislav Sutnar: Build the Town building block set (1943)

"Factory Town" toy prototype, c 1942 by Ladislav Sutnar

21/02/11 – Ladislav Sutnar began designing toys while a student at the School of Applied Arts in Prague in the early 1920s. His use of simple geometric shapes and bright colours resonated with children as well as adults. His designs, though rooted in the rich heritage of Czechoslovak folk art, helped bring toy design into the 20th century. (more…)

Max Bill: Form (1952)

Form: a balance sheet of mid-twentieth century trends in design (1952)
20/09/10 – Selections from Max Bill’s Form: a balance sheet of mid-twentieth century trends in design published in 1952 by Verlag Karl Werner, Basel. (more…)

Design in Scandinavia exhibition catalogue (1954)

Design in Scandinavia: an exhibition of objects for the home (1954)

13/09/10 – Exhibition catalogue for Design in Scandinavia: an exhibition of objects for the home (1954), the first major exhibition of Scandinavian design to travel to North America. The exhibition showcased ceramics, furniture, glassware, metalwork and textiles from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and was pivotal in introducing modern Scandinavian design to North America. (more…)

Kay Bojesen teak and limba wood monkey (1951)

Kay Bojesen Teak and Limba Wood Monkey

27/07/10 – Teak and limba wood toy monkey with articulated joints designed and produced by Kay Bojesen and his workshop in Denmark c. 1951. Available today complete with Henri Rousseau themed packaging through Rosendhal.

Aldo Rossi’s La conica e altre caffettiere (1984)

'La conica' e altre caffettiere (1984)

12/07/10 – Illustration by Aldo Rossi from the exhibition ‘La conica’ e altre caffettiere held September 8-11, 1984 in Milan. (more…)

Jens Quistgaard for Dansk Designs Denmark (1960)

Jens Quistgaard for Dansk Designs Denmark (1960)

12/04/10 – Teak ice bucket designed by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk Designs Denmark (1960). Base marked: Dansk Designs Denmark JHQ.  Dimensions: 19.25″ x 9.25″

Tatra T600 Tatraplan 1946-7 streamlined automobile

Tatra T600 Tatraplan

23/09/09 – Old toy model of the Tatra T600 Tatraplan automobile designed in 1946-7 in Czechoslovakia by Josef Chalupa, Vladimír Popelář and Hans Ledwinka. The Tatraplan had a monocoque streamlined six-seater saloon body with a drag coefficient (Cd) of just 0.32. It was powered by an air-cooled flat-4 cylinder 1,952 cc rear-mounted engine. Only 6,342 were produced. Toy dimensions: 10″x 3.75″ x 3.5″. (more…)

1960s & 1970s Scandinavian design logos: part 2

1960s & 1970s Scandinavian Design Logos

31/08/09 – Second installment of 1960s & 1970s Scandinavian design logos on flickr//. Includes logos from a variety of furniture and textile firms. (more…)

1960s & 1970s Scandinavian design logos: part 1

Scandinavian Design Logos
24/08/09 – First installment of a collection of Scandinavian design logos/logotypes circa 1960/70 on flickr//. Initial assortment strictly Danish furniture and textile firms. More to come from Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway. (more…)

Falkland Lamp by Bruno Munari for Danese Milano

Falkland Lamp (1964)

12/08/09 – Falkland Lamp by Bruno Munari for Danese Milano (1964). Spontaneous form tube-like suspension lamp. More images//

Tapio Wirkkala for Iittala: 1968

13/07/09 – Tapio Wirkkala Ultima Thule glassware for Iittala, Finland (1968). Set of six juice/whisky sour glasses (18 cl.). (more…)

Lambretta LD 150 Milan

Lambretta LD 150 Mark 2

02/05/09 – Lambretta LD 150 scooter built by Innocenti in Milan circa 1954-56. (more…)

Bruno Munari’s Design as art (1966)

Design as Art: Detail: Spread

01/04/09 – Excerpts from Bruno Munari’s Design as art first published in 1966. Images on flickr//

Preface to the English Edition

They [artists] have realized that at the present time subjective values are losing their importance in favour of objective values that can be understood by a great number of people.And if the aim is to mass-produce objects for sale to a wide public at low price, then it becomes a problem of method and design. The artist has to regain the modesty he had when art was just a trade, and instead of despising the very public he is trying to interest he must discover its needs and make contact with it again. This is the reason why the traditional artist is being transformed into the designer, and as I myself have undergone this transformation in the course of my working career I can say that this book of mine is also a kind of diary in which I try to see the why and wherefore of this metamorphosis. (13)

Jens Quistgaard for Dansk International Designs

18/12/08 – Kobenstyle pot designed by Jens Quistgaard for Dansk International Designs, France (1954). Red enamel on steel. Opening diameter: 8.5″

Henning Koppel for Scanform Denmark

09/12/08 – Henning Koppel teak salad bowl for Scanform, Denmark  (c. 1960/70). Opening diameter: 11.5″. (more…)

Solair Chair: Fabiano & Panzini for IPL

The Solair chair for IPL.  Design by Fabiano & Panzini. Patent design d-44237. Item: no. 60323. Made in Canada (1972). (more…)

Henning Koppel for B & G

13/10/08 – Pot with teak handle from Henning Koppel’s  Form 24 (aka. Koppel White) service (1962) for Bing & Grondahl.  More images//

Design from Denmark/Scandinavia magazine (1967)

Design from Scandinavia

13/11/07 – Design from Scandinavia is a design annual that showcases the best in Scandinavian furniture, textiles, handicrafts and applied art. It is the brainchild of publisher Kirsten Bjerregaard.

According to its original publishing house, World Pictures:

Her ambition was to do a ‘design exhibition in the form of a book’, and her idea was realized in 1967 when Design from Denmark came out and was distributed worldwide in 50,000 copies.

The next year Design from Denmark became Design from Scandinavia and a voyage of communicating about quality design from the five Nordic countries had begun.

A companion series begun in 1974 entitled Architecture from Scandinavia appears to have seen no more than the two editions pictured in Design from Scandinavia 8 (p. 128).

The series, especially the early editions, are an extremely valuable resource for information on Scandinavian design’s floruit during the 60s and 70s. Today, these early issues have become collector’s items. (more…)

Dieter Rams: Design is…


11/10/07 – Source:  Wallpaper* magazine (103),  guest editor: Dieter Rams

01. Good design is innovative
It does not copy existing product forms, nor does it produce any kind of novelty for the sake of it. The essence of innovation must be clearly seen in all functions of a product. The possibilities, in this respect, are by no means exhausted. Technological development keeps offering new chances for innovative solutions.

02. Good design makes a product useful
The product is purchased in order to be used. It must serve a defined purpose –in both primary and additional functions. The most important task of design is to optimize the utility of a product.

03. Good design is aesthetic
The aesthetic quality of a product –and the fascination it inspires– is an integral part of the product’s utility. Without doubt, it is uncomfortable and tiring to have to put up with products that are confusing, that get on your nerves, that you are unable to relate to. However, it has always been a hard task to argue about aesthetic quality for two reasons. Firstly, it is difficult to talk about anything visual, since words have a different meaning for different people. Secondly, aesthetic quality deals with details, subtle shades, harmony and the equilibrium of a whole variety of visual elements. A good eye is required, schooled by years and years of experience, in order to be able to draw the right conclusion. (more…)

Oliver Tomas

  • Design historian and archivist based in Vancouver, Canada.
  • info[at]olivertomas[dot]com