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Articles tagged “globalization

Photo by Jiahui Huang

The Best Kind of Welcome

Posted on May 31, 2013


My younger sister moved to Singapore for the summer two weeks ago. We have been exploring the city together, and on more than one occasion I have caught her expression out of the corner of my eye – wide-eyed with a dopey smile taking in her new surroundings. From bus lanes near Bras Basah to the bright lights near Marina Bay, everything is new and represents unexplored possibilities. She is excited about building a life in this city I am sure, as I felt the same way when I moved to the Lion City.

We are from a small Canadian city of 100,000 people. Despite its size, it is globally aware and was named the world’s smartest city by the Intelligent Community Forum not too long ago. But being globally aware is different than being international, just as traveling extensively is different than living abroad. Craving the latter, my sister pursued an international internship just as I did before her. Pursuing the unknown is an intoxicating experience. Out of your comfort zone, beautiful idiosyncrasies constantly colour outside your lines. And you let them. You notice, witness, experience like never before. The beautiful gift of realization is a gift from one country or community to the curious. It is an extended hand welcoming you to understand the culture, hoping that you will enjoy it and share your own.

The Davis Centre Library at the University of Waterloo. Photo by lytfyre.

The Davis Centre Library at the University of Waterloo. Photo by lytfyre.


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Ties that bind the Swedish design ecosystem

Posted on March 22, 2013

Previously, we had a top level overview of the Swedish design industry and how it has been affected by globalization. In the following article, we shall explore the various stakeholders of the vibrant design ecosystem in Sweden. You may read the first article titled, “Globalization and the Swedish Design Economy”.

Folkhem (the people’s home). Sometimes referred to as “the Swedish Middle Way”, where capitalism and socialism reaches a compromise. Folkhem is a political concept that played a pivotal role in the history of the Swedish Democratic Party and the Swedish welfare state since the post-war period after World War I. Its ideals are founded on the belief that the entire society ought to be like a small family, where everybody contributes.

In 1919, Gregor Paulsson, general director of Svenska Slöjdföreningen (The Swedish Society of Crafts & Design) published his seminal text Vackrare Vardagsvara (More Beautiful Everyday Things). The text firmly advocated that, “Design should be part of everyone, every day and every detail. Every Swede should be able to enjoy well designed products.”

Paradise Restaurant in 1930 Photo: Wikipedia

Paradise Restaurant in 1930 Photo: Wikipedia

Paulsson’s beliefs were immortalized in the Stockholm exhibition he led in 1930 as Director General. Over the summer, the event reportedly registered over 4 million visitors, some travelling from as far as the USA. For many Swedes it was their first contact with Modernism. The works on exhibit were a collaboration between art and industry, a first during that era. The alliance resulted in a collection of affordable and well-designed Swedish home goods made for day-to-day living.

Ellen Key, a prominent Swedish writer, previously wrote in her book Skönheit för Alla (Beauty for All) published in 1899,

“Design is a designer’s oath to society. A designer bears the responsibility to create beautiful and functional home furnishing for every home. Their prime target audience should be every Swede, so that they [the Swedish people] may enjoy the fruits of labor found in good design.”

Though Paulsson and Key have never met, their ideas represented the Swedish culture of its time where home, family and society comes before self. Where everyone is taken care of in a welfare state and has access to free healthcare and free education.

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Photo: Flickr, yasuhirotao

Globalization and the Swedish Design Economy

Posted on February 21, 2013

The following series of articles draws heavy reference from a Taiwanese book, published in 2009, titled ‘Swedish Design Economics: What Taiwan can learn from the success and challenges of the Swedish design industry‘. In preparation for writing the book, author Max Wang had interviewed over 50 Swedish companies and designers. Some are current faculty members of 3 universities in Sweden or members of trade organisations in the design industry.

Sweden’s brand of design is often closely associated with the distinctly Scandinavian decor that fills the halls of every IKEA showroom in major cities around the world. Like many Asian countries, Sweden is primarily an export-driven economy; one that has built known international brands like H&M, Sony Ericsson, and Volvo over the last few decades. It is also currently the 3rd largest exporter of music after USA and the UK, with Swedish pop music group, ABBA, paving the way since the 1970s.

Its capital city, Stockholm, is widely recognised as one of the top design capitals of the world and is currently the 3rd largest exporter of European furniture after Italy and UK. A considerable feat for a nation that was once considered one of Europe’s poorest countries before the First World War

Part of the Arctic Circle region, Sweden’s summer nights are short and winter days are often dark with little daylight; forcing many of its citizens to spend most of their time at home outside of work. Its modest population of just slightly over 9 million represents a small but affluent domestic market. In 2006 alone, Sweden spent $320 billion kroner (~US$58.7 billion) on furniture and home decor with a population of just 6 million people then. On average, that’s about $53k kroner (or ~US$9800) per person. More than half of that spending went to furniture giant IKEA, which has the largest market share in Sweden for furniture goods.


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