The Improving Life: The design of Swedish innovation was officially opened on May 9 2007 with number of Swedish key persons and key members of the media present to listen in on how Swedish innovations have helped with the daily miracles of modern living.
After successful showing in Singapore and Malaysia, The exhibition finally arrived in Thailand, the third destination in S.E. Asia and the exhibitions 6th stop in the Asian leg of the tour. This exhibition has been making the rounds since 2003.
Jointly organized by the Embassy of Sweden, Svensk Form (The Swedish Society of Crafts and Design) and Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC), the media tour was held on 9 May 2007 at TCDC. It commenced with a short speech by Director-General for International Trade’s Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affair, Mr. Anders Ahnlid.
His remark that the most important part of Swedish Innovation is the Swedish Design which consists of three essential elements: Functionality, Safety and Democratic.
He also said that he is delighted to escape the freezing weather in Sweden and to be in Thailand now.
H.E. Jonas Hafstorm, Ambassador of Sweden to Thailand was also present at the exhibition. He said that he is happy to be at the event and to be part of the Swedish innovations display.
“Sweden ranks among the countries with the highest standards of living in the world, and its designers are famous for incorporating technology with styles and the functionality that contributes to efficiency and an easier life.” says H.E. Jonas Hafstrom, Ambassador of Sweden to Thailand.
HSH Princess Siriwanwaree Mahidol was the Guest-of-Honour at the official opening in the afternoon. She was followed by Ms. Annika Enqvist, an exhibition coordinator, who subsequently brought the media on a short but insightful tour around the exhibition precinct.
The bright spaces of TCDC’s foyer was transformed by industrial designers Lennart Andersson, Jacob Boije, Andreas Lundqvist and TAF arkitektkontor, into neatly displayed exhibition, with compact explanations running alongside each exhibit.
With more than 65 products and applications, some of which maybe more familiar such as zipper, adjustable wrench, the humble safety matchstick, Sony Ericsson mobile and many others neat inventions. The star of the show however is the Robot vacuum cleaner trilobite 2.0 by Electrolux which get its privilege to be an opening exhibition tool.
Annika Enqvist also pointed out that Thailand’s designs have given her a fresh idea.
“Although I haven’t seen much of Thai designs but I like what I see on the street, the designs of everyday life here are straight and clear. It’s given me a fresh idea, to loose up a bit because everything in Sweden is sometime too well organized and very safety-conscious. Other nations are more carefree and do not place that much emphasis on safety issues.” Annika observes.
Concern for Safety and health is an important inspiration for an industrial design like the welding-shield Speedglas 9000. This item has innovative auto-darkening filter that protects the welder from eye injury. Besides, its stylish shape is further incentive for workers to do it.
Apart from high-profile Swedish exports like ABBA and Absolut Vodka, museumgoers would be delighted to acquaint themselves with other Swedes like Anders Eriksson, whose low-cost disposable sleeping bag is a lifesaver in every sense of the word. Made with disaster survivors in mind, the relative ease of mass-manufacturing the sleeping bag would ensure survivors a temporal but safe haven before more concrete help comes.
Details like colour and packaging are no less important to Swedish designers: among the exhibits is the heart massage device in soothing green and yellow hues which have a calming effect. In cases where a patient’s heart needs to be massaged continuously, medical personnel carrying him into an ambulance can strap the device on him, leaving them free to maneuver the stretcher. This device, first commercially produced in 2002, was born of necessity, Annika explains.
Besides high-tech products like a portable satellite that is sought after by the military and broadcasting companies, there are others that may look simple but are very useful.
The baby feeding set and breast-feeding blouse are examples. The former incorporates ergonomic features that consider the tiny hands and under-developed motor skill of toddlers, while the latter enables mothers to feed their babies in public, discreetly.
Swedish products celebrate the ingenuity of the brains behind them. Thus the names of the designers are prominently placed beside the displays. But the Swedes are not averse to applauding someone else’s idea and improving on it.
The Electrolux vacuum cleaner is a case in point. In 1908, businessman Axel Wenner-Gren chanced upon an awkward-looking American machine in a shop window on an Austrian street. He worked on that and came up with a machine that was lighter and cheaper.
So, what is the driving force behind every Swedish innovation? What makes Swedish designers tick?
Designer architect of TAF Matthias Stahlbom, who travels with the exhibition, reckons it is a functioning democracy that upholds freedom of expression. He also praised to Carl Linnaeus scientific works, that Linnaeus started a root of Swedish design and had inspired many Swedish designers in one way or another.
“Just 100 years ago, we were a poor nation. We had to make the most out of what we had. A democratic governing system that allows us to think critically has totally transformed the country in the last 50years,” says Stahlbom.
He won the contract to design this traveling exhibition and view Asia as a growing market.
“Thats why we want to be here to showcase Swedish innovations and products. Ultimately, it will be good for Swedish exports.” continues Stahlbom.
More about the Exhibition
Improving Life is based upon the book Swedish Innovation by Kjell Sedig, and was produced by Svensk Form in Cooperation with The Swedish institute, The Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, The Swedish Trade Council. The event is sponsored by Volvo and Electrolux.
Those who are interested are recommended to come to the activities related to the exhibition which are: seminar on “The Future Face of Volvo” by Mr. Stephen Mattin, Senior vice President, Design Volvo Car Corporation on 19 May. “Kitchen and Electronic Device Design in Europe” by Mr.Henrik Otto, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Design. “Why does Swedish design work?” by Mr. Johan Persson from Swedish Design and Mr. Fredrik Magnusson from Propeller on June 7. These seminars are also held at TCDC.
The exhibition is open to the public free of charge-daily except Mondays at the Open Gallery, at TCDC, 6th floor of The Emporium Shopping Complex from 10 May until June 2007, opening hours from 10.30 to 9.00pm. After Thailand it will carry on to the next venue in Sydney.