Design: Century of Scattered Flowers

A dazzling exhibit sheds fresh light on Scandinavian modern, 1880-1980

A dazzling exhibit sheds fresh light on Scandinavian modern

For smart newlyweds of a generation ago, their home, the first rung on the ladder of upward mobility, was almost inevitably furnished with "Danish modern," complete with Marimekko textiles, stainless-steel cutlery and plain white tableware. There was no better way to show modernity. Recently, however, modern Scandinavian design seems to have vanished from public awareness in the U.S. Much of it has been poorly adapted and absorbed by U.S. mass culture. In addition, it is no longer modern to be modern.

"Scandinavian Modern: 1880-1980," the dazzling exhibition that opens this week at...

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