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North as a Meaning in Design and Art


North is where the compass needle points. Determined geographically from every location, North is also experienced, imagined and interpreted through unique social, cultural and environmental contexts.

North as a Meaning in Design and Art considers its particular significance for a number of artists and designers, past and present, and accounts for some of the local, regional and national identifications of their works.

The diverse and complex meanings of North or ‘northernness’ is a common concern for each of the essays, but each author – from the fields of architecture, art, design history, art history, art education, textile art, and cultural geography – approaches these particular meanings from unique perspectives.

This publication was prompted by recent discussion of the Finnish and international artist-designers Tapio Wirkkala (1915–1985) and Rut Bryk (1916–1999) for whom the North and especially Lapland was to become a vital part of their work and shared life.

Maija Mäkikalli is Lecturer at the Department of Fine Arts and Culture Studies at the University of Lapland, Finland. She is a cultural historian with a special interest in design and material culture.

Ysanne Holt is Professor of Art History and Visual Culture at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle, UK. Her recent research focusses on contemporary art and northern UK cultural landscapes and environments.

Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja is Professor of Art History at the University of Lapland, Finland. Her field of specialisation is northern art and culture.

Maija Mäkikalli, Ysanne Holt & Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja (eds.)
North as a Meaning in Design and Art
Lapland University Press 2019
ISBN 978-952-310-931-5
209 pages

Table of Contents:


List of Contributors


PART I: North as a location for art and its cultural interpretations

True North – A Mythical Dimension: Two Masters of the North
Juhani Pallasmaa

Conceptualizing the North: Modernist Paradigms, Historical Echoes
Harri Kalha

How to be Scandinavian in America: Hans J. Wegner’s Furniture Design 1949–1951
Anne Blond

Images of Ice
Eija Timonen

The Aesthetics of Darkness in Northern German Romantic Landscape Painting
Sophie Dietrich

Reidar Särestöniemi: Life in Lapland and Inspiration from Arctic and Northern Nature
Tuija Hautala-Hirvioja

Textile Designers’ Travels and Northern Beauty: Marianne Strengell and Marjatta Metsovaara
Heidi Pietarinen

PART II: Critical openings, new collaborations and connections

Postcolonial Critique and the North in Geographical Imaginations
Juha Ridanpää

Buckminster Fuller’s Reindeer Abattoir and Other Designs for the Real World
Alison Clarke

A Ring from Lapland, Colourful Prints and Social Design: Northern Perspectives on the Collections of Design Museum
Leena Svinhufvud & Susanna Thiel

The View from the Peripheries: Cultural Perspectives from the Northern UK
Ysanne Holt

Making Art in the Land of Polar Bears and Lemmings
Maria Huhmarniemi

Ecologies of Change: the Place of Art in a Northern Imaginary
Mark Wilson & Bryndís Snæbjörnsdóttir