CHART Design took place for the first time over the weekend (coinciding with the CHART art fair) at the historic venue Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen. Focusing on the cross section between art and design, the exhibiting galleries presented a variety of collectible design objects ranging from 20th century Modernism to contemporary styles. Whitewall sat down with fair’s director, Nanna Balslev Strøjer, to discuss the evolution of Danish design and the limits between art and design.
WHITEWALL: How would you describe traditional and contemporary Danish design?
NANNA BALSLEV STRØJER: The Nordic region carries a strong heritage of design. It is almost in our DNA. But I think it has been a little bit difficult for young contemporary designers to stand out from the Danish traditional design in which they were born in and translate their heritage into another context. For many years, there has been a very classic idea of what Nordic design was: minimalist with light colors and functional. In contemporary Nordic design, you see a lot of colouful and organic objects that feel much more like sculpture.
WW: How are both styles represented at the fair?
NBS: Both relate to each other. For the space that I curated downstairs, I decided to challenge the young designers by asking them what it meant to be commercial. I felt this hierarchy coming in a way that design was made for sale, and that it didn’t have the same kind of authenticity that art. It’s important and interesting to question those ideas.
WW: Is there a limit to the cross section between design and art?
NBS: I don’t spend that much time on definitions and I don’t think there is a strict limit between design and art. I guess you could say that design must have a function somehow but my concept of function is quite broad. You could also argue that many art pieces have a function in a sense that they can decorate a room and initiate a feeling.
Another place where we hit these barriers between definitions are with design and craft. Objects like chairs and lamps made by craft-makers with very traditional materials like textiles and clay have for purpose to be for decoration. I was hoping that CHART Design could at least challenge those definitions for people to consider that there is so much happening in this field right now, that they must come and see for themselves and keep an open mind.