Norway’s got style

Many of Oleana’s designs are inspired by the rich Norwegian folk costume tradition, but always with a modern twist and fresh take (photo courtesy of Oleana)

Many of Oleana’s designs are inspired by the rich Norwegian folk costume tradition, but always with a modern twist and fresh take

Innovative designers prove Norwegian products can find success in U.S. market

By John Erik Stacy 16 Oct 2009.

Since its start, Huldresølv has grown steadily and its collection is constantly being updated. In 1996 it started with just one employee, the growing company now employs 10 (Photo: Huldresølv).

Since its start, Huldresølv has grown steadily and its collection is constantly being updated. In 1996 it started with just one employee, the growing company now employs 10 (Photo: Huldresølv).

Natural beauty

If you are a guy that has been to Norway, odds are you have been stopped dead in your tracks by the sight of a Norwegian woman. Most men are not able to describe the individual elements working on their psyche at a moment like this, but they are likely cognizant of the broad concepts of “natural beauty” and “style.” Norwegian designers appear to be fully aware of both the details and guiding principles that make for stunning objects of beauty. And they are particularly skillful at using traditional themes in a modern context.

Textiles and Jewelry

One of the many companies at the fore-front of Norwegian design is Oleana. This textile company is already known to many women of discerning taste in Europe and the USA. Solveig Hisdal is the award winning designer behind many of Oleana’s wonderfully tasteful products – including garments for women and blankets. Oleana has shown that it is possible to keep textile production in Norway and to compete in a world market.

Huldresølv jewelry is also on the cutting edge of the enchantingly beautiful. Rings, necklaces, bracelets and brooches from Huldresølv maximize the beauty of natural materials – silver, gold, gems and pearls – while synthesizing traditional elements into new interpretations. Goldsmith and business woman Elise Thiis-Evensen is the company founder and it is interesting to note that Huldresølv has a cooperative arrangement with Oleana.

In fact, several distributors in the US carry both Oleana and Huldresølv products including Chalet in the Woods in Gig Harbor WA and The Nordic Shop in Rochester MN.

NorwaySaysCup-1

This cup from Norway Says is just one example of the companie’s chic and modern designs. The company has received numerous awards including the Award for Design Excellence from the Norwegian Design Council in 2007. (Photo: Norway Says)

Space Age

Sometimes Norwegian designers break completely from the traditional and create objects that might blend in on the set of a science fiction movie. If your surroundings are inspiring a “Space Odyssey Moment” you might be standing in a room created by Norway Says design company. It is hard to put Norway Says in a box, but clean lines, bold forms and striking color are some catch words that seem to apply.

Kari Traa ski wear (Photo: Kari Traa)

Kari Traa ski wear (Photo: Kari Traa)

Whimsy

Moods of Norway is another daring company pushing the envelope on design and culture. Products from this company manage to juxtapose rural, urban and traditional elements under the umbrella of youth oriented clothing. Visit their website – both entertaining and navigable – at moodsofnorway.com to get a flavor for their philosophy, view catalogues and shop on line. Similarly, Kari Traa has a line of youth oriented clothing that is likely to resonate with snow-boarders around the world. The articles sold under her label are inspired by her moxie and extreme-sport daring.

Fun

Design considerations are also evident in products from Hamax. In particular, the Hotsheet sled is an example of elegant simplicity. Most every Norwegian household has at least one of these. Hotsheets are usually the winter fun item of choice for small kids that quickly master the technique of sliding downhill and find them easy to carry back up-hill.

Moods T-shirt with Tractor Logo

Moods T-shirt with Tractor Logo

HelleBesseggen

Built on the ancient Norwegian traditions of knife making, Helle knives are a modern product for people who regard nature as a source of pleasure and beauty. (Photo: Helle)

Tradition

Traditional objects from Norway can also be of striking form. My favorites include the various knives that most Norwegians carry when camping. These may feature an over-sized handle carved from curly-birch and are perfect for whittling. Although men may not know much about sweaters or jewelry, they usually know more than enough about knives. Search the internet for Helle or Brusletto knives and choose from one of the many US distributors.

So, get a head start on Christmas shopping by looking into products designed in Norway. Many of these are available (or can be special ordered) in Scandinavian shops around America. Or if you can’t find an actual shop, make use of the internet to find that special gift!

This article was also published in the Norwegian American Weekly. For more information about the Norwegian American Weekly or to subscribe, call us toll free (800) 305-0217 or email subscribe@norway.com.

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