Inside “Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980.”

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Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980 exhibition examines design exchange and cultural influence between Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the U.S.A. over 100 years.

Here is a look at” Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980.”

A century of design exchange

This exhibit showcases artists and designers from Scandinavia who moved to the US or Americans who lives in Nordic countries. Look at the mutual design influence through a variety of 180 artworks. You will recognize modern wooden chairs, Formica furniture, bright textiles, and famous toys.

Annika Pimala – Girl’s dresses in Petrooli patern designed in 1963.

Born and raised in Sweden, Greta Magnusson Grossman moved to California in 1940. In 1952, she designed the below formica-and-walnut midcentury desk.

Greta Magnusson Grossman’s desk

Howard Smith, an African American, moved to Finland in 1962. He designed textiles with colorful bold patterns for the firm Vallila. Initially sold as home decoration, it was later successfully commercialized in the US. In 2001, he received the Finnish State Design Prize.

Howard Smith, Textile designed in 1978.

 Scandinavian designers’ impact is beyond design. Some innovations and projects have impacted our daily life. As an example, the wheelchair symbol was designed in 1968 by Danish design student Susanne Koefoed.



Created in 1932 by Ole Kirk Christiansen, LEGO, from Danish “leg godt,” i.e. “play well,” arrived in the US in 1961.

The same year, the son of Lego founder designed “Town-Plan.” This toy was marketed as a building toy. A few years later, the set described it as “There is, in this nervous world, one toy that does not shoot or go boom or bang or rat-tat-tat-tat. Its name is Lego. It makes things.”

LEGO “Town-Plan.”

Dala Horses

Dala horses are small hand-painted wooden horses. Originally, they were made in Dalarna, a rural region in Sweden, and brought to the US by Swedish immigrants.

They become popular in America with the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Dala Horses

Article based on my visit in November 2022

Ready to explore ?

*COVID-19 update as of January 2023*

– Please wear a mask and practice a physical distance of 6 feet between yourself and others

– Please check LACMA’s health and safety protocols before your visit

Plan your visit:

  • Exhibit on view from October 9, 2022 – February 5, 2023
  • Location: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036
  • Hours: 11:00am-6:00pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, 11:00am – 8:00pm on Friday and, 10:00 am-7:00pm on weekend. Closed on Wednesdays, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
  • Admission: $25 per adult, free after 3 pm Monday-Friday for L.A County resident. Advance timed-entry reservations are recommended.
  • Duration: I spent 45 minutes discovering it.
  • Parking: paid on-site lot and street parking
  • More information is available at

If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment and share it with a design lover.

2 thoughts on “Inside “Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890–1980.”

  1. Great article!

    The textiles remind me of the Italian fashion house called Marni. Do you know about them?

    So maybe 13 years ago they made beautiful bold prints like the ones shown on your post, and would make beautiful shirts with those prints. I think I have a picture of myself with a Marni shirt on from back then. I’ll have to look for it and show you. Very similar. LOVED THIS ARTICLE!!! Keep it up!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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