“Follow the red thread,” my high school Latin teacher used to say. What she meant was to keep track of the subjects, verbs, and overall plotline, while translating a passage of, say, The Aeneid. But the expression, which is popular throughout Northern European nations, can be applied to many situations—including the history of Scandinavian and Finnish design.
The Red Thread: Nordic Design, a new book out from Phaidon, covers more than 200 examples of significant aesthetic achievements. There’s Josef Frank’s colorful prints, Marimekko’s iconic flowers, and Royal Copenhagen’s classic chinaware. What comes through is a comprehensive, if visual, history of design. But Nordic style is an aesthetic that has infused not only design, but also culture at large—including fashion, architecture, and film. Just another red thread, you could say, to try to trace.
Below, a look inside the textile, furniture, and ceramic-laden publication.