Every year, Designarkivet in Pukeberg, Nybro presents a smaller exhibition at Kalmar konstmuseum where materials by one of the many designers in the archive are displayed. This year, the exhibition will instead highlight Designarkivet’s full collection so that everyone with an interest in design will have the chance to discover the abundance of Swedish design, or “everyday-art” as it was originally labelled, that the archive contains.
The exhibition will focus on Designarkivet’s many sketches, their value and their importance in the design process. It will be a unique opportunity to discover different designers, areas of design and time periods.
Sketches work both as thought figures and knowledge banks throughout the organisation of the design work and the process through to a finished product. As a work tool, the sketch saves thoughts in formalised manner and is a device that is faster than words. But the sketches also fill the function of providing inspiration, both for the designer himself or herself, and for others who look for knowledge or information at a later stage. As an artistic expression, albeit not art in itself, many of these sketches have high aesthetic value.
Sketches by well known designers such as Arthur Percy, Erik Höglund, Astrid Sampe, Hertha Bengtson, Viola Gråsten, Nisse Strinning and others, give insights into the preparatory work that have resulted in some of our most famous objects and textiles. These highly acclaimed designers share space in the exhibition with others, often in-house designers, whose work have resulted in famous objects, but where the designer has remained anonymous.
With the archive’s collection consisting of 120 000 sketches by 741 designers, it will never be possible to showcase it in full. But through Designarkivet A-Ö, more people will be given the opportunity to discover a design treasure that is available to anyone who looks for it. The sheer number of works in the exhibition will make the size and scope of Designarkivet’s collection clear to the visitor.
Designarkivet A-Ö has been collated by Eva Wängelin, Archive Director.
The designers behind the above sketches are (from left): Astrid Sampe, Inga-Lill Andersson och Ebba Ahlmark-Hughes.
Designarkivet was founded in 1978, thanks to an initiative by Erik Broman, the then Director of Kalmar konstmuseum. The objective was to create an archive for “Swedish everyday-art” in Kalmar and the idea of a national archive of design received broad support. Swedish industry had been under a lot of pressure since the 1950s and there were concerns that important knowledge of Swedish designers would be lost.
Designarkivet has material from the late 19th century and onwards and today consists of over 120 000 items by around 750 designers. The collecting ambition is to gather items that can help illuminate the design process. The main part of the collection therefore consists of sketches, technical drawings and photographs. Reference materials are added to create as full a picture of the designers as possible. Today, original sketches constitute the majority of new additions to the archive.
In 2006, the archive moved from Kalmar to Pukeberg in Nybro and better suited archival premises.
The collections of Designarkivet are available through an online database, or by appointment. Items are often lent to exhibitions elsewhere. Designarkivet was one of the main lenders for Malmö Museer’s impressive summer exhibition of 2016 “Oomph – the women who coloured Sweden”.
Designarkivet doesn’t function as a museum. Designarkivet A-Ö is therefore a wonderful opportunity to see material from Swedish design history and get insights into the resource that the archive constitutes.