On this page, you can find the texts of the exhibition Jenny Nordberg: Strategies for Moving Freely. You can study them before your visit, read them on your own device while moving around the exhibition space, or return to the texts after visiting the museum. With her work, Jenny Nordberg wants to strengthen agency instead of passive observation. Each work is accompanied by a related question, the purpose of which is to get the viewer’s brain humming.
1. Can design be done without restrictions?
Strategies for Moving Freely (2020)
First published in 2020, Strategies for Moving Freely is a book about the work and production processes of Jenny Nordberg. The title of the book describes the designer’s way of working. Nordberg is not satisfied with just questioning the circumstances at hand, but rather looks for solutions to problems. For the designer, the value of freedom is central.
The book can be purchased online and at the Design Museum shop.
Strategies for Moving Freely
Jenny Nordberg, 2020
editor, Anna Granqvist
2. Can you build industrial processes on your own?
Studio Adapted Industrial Processes (2016–2020)
Both Pewter Plinth and Powder Vase are part of a series Studio Adapted Industrial Processes which involves several industrial processes that have been re-fitted into a studio setting.
For her work Pewter Plinth, Jenny Nordberg developed a method for producing a pewter sheet right in one’s own studio. The sheet material is made by pouring pewter into large casts. The restrictions set by the studio space produce an uneven and rough, almost brutal finish.
The work is inspired by a cube-shaped plinth – resembling the podiums often used in galleries and museums for presenting artworks. The material used for the plinth is pewter.
Jenny Nordberg’s Powder Vase is part of the small batch of decorative items curated by Modern Design Review Magazine. The vase is produced for the Swedish design brand Hem.
The designer ordered the laser-cut metal parts from a local metalworker and welded them by herself into large-scale vessels. To decorate the vases, Nordberg used powder coating which is used industrially to create even finishes. Now these industrial rules of evenness and unbrokenness have been compromised and the vases feature a rugged and lively surface.
From the series: Studio Adapted Industrial Production
3. Could the design process be faster if imperfections are allowed?
Free Applications (2023)
Jenny Nordberg’s 3D-printed chair is based on a rough model of a chair in a scale of 1:10. Free, easy-to-use applications and programs were used for the 3D design and modelling. Mistakes were allowed at different stages of production. At the same time, the goal was to find ways to create the product quickly and flexibly.
A new kind of aesthetics, that is, new kinds of beauty values, emerged from the production process. The time required to manufacture the chair has been reduced. The errors that occurred at different stages of production have been turned into advantages, and they determined the final appearance of the product.
The first version of the chair is produced in collaboration with Brightplus, a Finnish manufacturer of renewable materials. Four natural materials of different colors are all sourced from Finland. The black material is from the recycled minerals and forest industry’s residues. Translucent amber material is from willow bark, and translucent blue is produced from woad. The cream-colored material is obtained from bacteria-fermented food proteins.
chair, bioplastic filaments
Materials and production: Brightplus
4. Can a mistake be beautiful?
Jenny Nordberg researched an old technique of manufacturing mirrors, dating back to the 19th century. The research in question was part of the 3 to 5 Seconds project. The production process and its results were spellbinding. Since then, Nordberg has carried on using the same process. A layer of silver is spread out on a glass sheet, yet not fully covering the surface. This way, each mirror becomes unique.
The mirror is born through three steps. In the first one, three liquids are mixed together. After this, the mixture is poured onto glass and left to set for five minutes. The end result is a surprise, as the process also leaves space for chance. Finally, a silvery multidimensional mirror effect is formed, resembling a puddle.
mirrors: glass, silver, paint
5. Is there anything good in mass production?
3 to 5 Seconds – Rapid Handmade Production (2014–)
Jenny Nordberg’s core professional questions revolve around consumption choices and their links to production. How were consumer goods manufactured in the past, what do current processes entail, and how does the future look?
In the project 3 to 5 Seconds – Rapid Handmade Production, Nordberg examines how artisanal methods can meet with mass production. The aim is to bring together the uniqueness of handicrafts and the speed of mass production. Is it possible to make unique handmade pieces at a fast pace? In her videos, Nordberg shows how this combination works in practice.
The project has been running since 2014. The shared feature in the methods included in the project is that each production step lasts three to five seconds.
From the series: 3 to 5 Seconds – Rapid Handmade Production
Candle Holder/Hand Force
candle holder: ceramic clay
Hook From Thumb
fabric: repurposed fabric, fabric dye
Mirror/Pour out a Puddle
mirror: glass, silver, lacquer
Book Ends/Cut and Bend
book support: aluminium
pot stand: anodised aluminium
Clock/Double Casting Stone
clock: jesmonite composite material, lava stone
Lamp/Punch and Roll
lamp: paper, electrical fitting
Explosion Poster/Explosion Graphics
poster: paper, fireworks
6. Is Swedish production really dead?
SPOK website, 2020
The SPOK (Samtida Produktion Och Konsumtion, in English contemporary production and consumption) website gathers and shares information on local manufacturers in Sweden. Some are engaged in handmade small production series while others have industrial-scale facilities. The platform serves to advance local production in Sweden. In the long term, the goal is to increase the responsibility of production and the consumer’s role in it.
SPOK was founded and developed by Jenny Nordberg, who is also its creative director. Form/Design Center is in charge of the initiative and is engaged in promoting local production.
The project is implemented by Region Skåne, the City of Malmö, the County Administrative Board of Skåne, and the Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth. Visit it at www.s-p-o-k.se.
video, duration: 2 min
Voiceover: Jenny Nordberg
Subtitles: English, Swedish, Finnish
Duration: 2 min
7. How can consumer goods be so cheap?
€1 Bracelet, 2013
Jenny Nordberg’s work €1 Bracelet asks what the correct price of a consumer good is. Many of today’s items are produced in China where the wage of a factory worker in 2012 was one euro per hour. If a bronze jewellery piece was sold as trash metal, its value would also be one euro.
The workers involved in creating the €1 Bracelet and its packaging have all received a decent compensation. They have an ordinary, healthy working environment. They work eight hours a day, five days a week.
The bracelets are made in Malmö, Sweden. The packaging is made in Sweden from recycled cardboard. The stickers and printed materials are produced in a local print-on-demand shop. The real production price of the bracelet would be 55 € instead of 1 €.
8. If the quality of food is so bad that we shouldn’t eat it, then what can we do with it?
The Baloney Sandwich, 2020
The work is based on Jenny Nordberg’s own experience of a local supermarket. Some of the sandwiches in the supermarket were on the shelves for three months, some tasted like cardboard. What was sold as butter contained no real butter, and the salami was full of nitrates and antibiotics. According to Nordberg, these sandwiches are not fit for consumption.
When the artist was diving into the varieties of casting techniques for a project, the supermarket sandwiches popped up in her mind. She started to consider the sandwich as a material rather than a food item. In her experiments, Nordberg used a frozen sandwich as one of the materials to create a casting mould for a candlestick.
The Baloney Sandwich
candle holder: pewter
9. Can we produce a scent for a person who doesn’t exist?
The Ghost, 2019
Johnny Ståhl is an imaginary character who works at Jenny Nordberg’s studio. She uses this character to contact manufacturers and subcontractors. If Nordberg is the one to get in touch, very few reply. It is difficult to get the desired information, or even to do business.
Once Ståhl is on the ropes, communication flows. The various potential collaborators reply to his e-mails in a friendly, quick, and polite manner. Whenever someone wants to speak with Johnny, however, he is never to be reached. He doesn’t even have a phone. And whenever someone wants to call him in to join a meeting, he just happens to be home, often with a sick child.
Nordberg made the scent The Ghost for Johnny Ståhl in collaboration with Nenad Jovanov from Sava perfumery. The cap of the perfume bottle is made by the Belgrade-based Carpentry Production Xylon. Nova Iskra collaborated on the graphic design of the project and on the folder included in the packaging case.
If you wish to get in touch with Johnny Ståhl, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
perfume: perfume, glass, wood
10. Could office supplies become tools for jewellery making?
Office Supply, 2021
Jenny Nordberg’s 3D-printed jewellery series Office Supply is based on everyday stationery. The designer has cut up familiar office items into small pieces: paper, pens, rubbers, and glue. She has combined the bits and pieces into jewellery-like shapes. These miniature sculptures are then scanned with a simple mobile scanner app and printed with a 3D printer.
From the series: Office Supply
bracelet, ring, earrings: PLA
Commissioned by What is Gold initiative
11. How do we know if a smile is real?
Positive Enough, 2021
“One early morning during the covid winter of 2021 I had a rich and vivid dream. I woke up with a clear image of a smiling chair with alluring eyes. I tried to draw it immediately but it was impossible to describe and capture the chair correctly. The smiling chair I saw in the dream seemed to be more of a feeling than something visual.”
Later on that spring, Nordberg visited the sawmill of Ingvar Olsson and saw large oak planks laying on the ground. All of a sudden, there it was, the very smile from her dream. It had exactly the same shape and expression.
According to the neurologist Guillaume Duchenne, who lived in the 19th century, the muscles of the eye have a key role to play in interpreting a smile as real. Unintended muscle contractions create wrinkles in just the right spots, serving as proof of the authenticity of a smile.
Positive Enough challenges the idea of a chair as a functional item. Its proportions are unusual, and the chair also does not seem like an item that is ready to use. The surface has been sawed roughly, creating plenty of wrinkles in the chair – yet it doesn’t have eyes. The chair appears conscious in any case. It wants more in life than to just fill a space in a room. Functionality is second place when the chair’s emotional life takes over.
12. Could the transportation process of an object also be the manufacturing of the object?
Active Cargo, 2022
Active Cargo asks questions about the global production and consumption systems.
In 2020, 128 trillion tonne-kilometres were transported worldwide. The figure is incomprehensibly enormous. When compared to the whole of global population, it would mean that in one year, 16,500,000 kilos of goods would be transported one kilometre for each inhabitant of the Earth.
The countries of the European Union consume about a quarter of the world’s raw materials. At the same time, the same countries produce only three percent of all raw materials. Today, raw materials are by nature more global than local.
We have made ourselves dependent on the global transportation system. The fragility of this system has been exposed in recent years, as the coronavirus pandemic caused transport delays. As a result of Russian invasion in Ukraine and Western economic sanctions against Russia that followed, both material prices and delivery times were affected.
Active Cargo directs attention to a lost opportunity. What would happen if we were to consider transportation in a whole new way? Could freight transport also involve active production instead of passive logistics? How could the system be optimised to its maximum?
wall installation: clay
machines: aluminium, rubber, electronics
video, duration: 6 min
Videography, editing and sound composition: Andreas Kurtsson
Flute: Johanna Zetterqvist
Violin: Joakim Zetterqvist
Voiceover: Jenny Nordberg
Subtitles: English, Swedish, Finnish