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
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.