Design in Sweden 15001740

Discover the roots of European design development in furniture, embroidery, gold and porcelain in a permanent exhibition of older art handicraft.

As part of a larger whole, the new permanent exhibition, Design in Sweden 15001740 marks the beginning of a journey through the history of art handicraft and design from the 16th century to the present day. See oriental kites, ancient grotesques, the ornamentation of the Renaissance and the flowery extravagance of baroque — here are the roots of European design development.

Different themes

Nationalmuseum’s rich collections include a number of unique objects that trace excellence in design through these epochs. Presented in their historic context, they provide a chart of innovations and trends within the richer strata of society between 1500 and 1740. The exhibition is organised in themes: Trade and consumption, Style, What was new? What was modern? and Who controlled taste?

The spread of design

Trade was a necessary precondition for the spread of design. The Europeans’ audacious voyages of discovery increased contacts between the continents. Chinese porcelain, Indian silk and tobacco from America were valuable trading goods in Europe. Fashion was as important then as it is today. Luxury goods were a means of manifesting a position in the social hierarchy. The exhibition analyses how the upper reaches of society reinforced their identity through the consumption of luxury items.

Typical designs and décor of historical styles

Oriental patterns and design inspired contemporary European artisans, as did the rich discoveries of antique relics. Design in Sweden 15001740 illustrated the typical designs and décor of historical styles. This new exhibition instead discusses the origin and spread of ornaments.


Picture: INterior from the Design in Sweden 15001740 Exhibition.

The Kungsholm glassworks

Imports from Asia, the Orient and America inspired European production. The high economic value of these goods enticed many to try their hand at making them. In 1676, Sweden’s first glassworks of artistic merit was started by an Italian named Scapitta who, using an assumed name and fake aristocratic title, managed to attract several Swedish investors. The Kungsholm glassworks soon ran into financial difficulties and Scapitta fled abroad.

Thanks to skilful glassblowers and fresh capital, the glassworks survived. In triumph, they delivered the two goblets that are now part of Nationalmuseum’s collection to the wedding of King Karl XI to Ulrika Eleonora in 1680. The goblets showed great technical skill.

Exhibition commissioner: Barbro Hovstadius
Working group: Micael Ernstell and Cilla Robach
Exhibition designer: Henrik Widenheim


Art Library and Museum Archives,
Holmamiralens väg 2,
Skeppsholmen, Stockholm 

Other adresses

Follow us:

Facebooks logotyp  Twitters logotyp  You Tubes logotyp

Instagrams logotyp   Flickr logotyp