Ladies & Gentlemen Studio: Scandinavian Design Gallery

Books about mid-century Scandinavian design are a dime a dozen. Jacobsen chairs, Aalto stools, Juhl sofas — you know the drill. But if you’ve ever been to a design museum in Stockholm or Helsinki, you probably also know that some of the coolest objects made in the region date back to a more unexpected era: the ’80s, when good things weren’t just happening in Italy, believe it or not. A few months back, we spotted some examples of said amazingness on the Instagram feed of the Seattle design duo Ladies & Gentlemen Studio, which they’d noted were pulled from a vintage book they’d rediscovered while cleaning house. And so this column was born, a place for people to show off strange, beautiful, and mostly out-of-print volumes that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day. Browse selections from Scandinavian Design Gallery (1987) in the slideshow here — complete with caption text plucked from the book and sporadic Ladies & Gentlemen accompanying commentary — then let us know if you have a gem of your own to share.

Ladies & Gentlemen on Scandinavian Design Gallery: “The ’80s is typically disregarded as a period of excess and gaudiness. The reality is that it was an extremely creative time and books like this give a better view of the variety and thought that went into design back then. Granted, there was ridiculous over-the-top stuff happening, but there were many simple, smart, restrained pieces too. Overall, we admire how expressive and artistic the profession was at the time. The ‘rules’ of design and art had already been thrown out the window, so designers were truly free to explore from more angles than ever before.

“Possibly the best part of this book is the styling — we find ourselves chuckling nostalgically on almost every page. Like the designs themselves, the photo styling is all-over-the-map creative: draped fabrics, crazy patterns, foggy atmospheric effects, random props… It really takes us back to our childhood and has us thinking we need a fog machine at our next photoshoot.”