Scandinavian Figurative: Bjorn Wiinblad & Lotte/Turi

Scandinavian Figurative: Bjorn Wiinblad & Lotte/Turi

Aug 9, 2010

Most would agree that Scandinavian design of the 1960's and 70's continued the ideals of Modernism: clean lines and practical austerity. So it's surprising to discover the fantasy and figuration of Denmark's Bjorn Wiinblad (1918-2006). Like Piero Fornasetti, another 20th century design anomaly, Wiinblad created a unique visual language with heavily stylized characters often surrounded by fantastic flora and fauna.

He had a tremendous output illustrating and designing posters, furniture and porcelain. Wiinblad produced many designs for Rosenthal, the famous German porcelain manufacturer. His stylized round faced ladies appear frequently.

In Toronto, the Lotte pattern by Turi-Design of Norway, is collected by many nostalgic young people and is easy to find at the St. Lawerence Market, on Craigslist and from several vintage dealers. While not much is known about Lotte, it is clearly influenced by Wiinblad's aesthetic. (How much is Jonathan Adler's pottery indebted to Wiinblad?)

Both Wiinblad and Lotte/Turi-Design deserve a more formal investigation of their histories and output. Items from both remain affordable and easy to find in flea markets, vintage shops and Ebay. And even if you prefer a modernist/minimalist look fantasy and whimsy deserve a bit of appreciation. So contrary to assumptions, Scandinavian figuration is not an oxymoron thanks to Lotte and Wiinblad.

Shown above, left to right:
1. A trio of Lotte decorative tiles, available at Rogue Gallery 733 Queen Street East, $85-$150
2. Bjorn Wiinblad poster from 1959 concert in Copenhagen at the Det Ny Theartre, 19" x 26", eBay, $59 + shipping
3. Bjorn Wiinblad for Rosenthal 9" bowl from the "Fantasy" series, from Caviar20, $325
4. Bjorn Wiinblad "Romanze" face jug 6", eBay, approx. $50 + shipping
5. Description: Entire Lotte dinnerware service, Craigslist, $1,200

-Troy Seidman

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