Abstract

This paper focuses on how interior decoration and taste was seen and taught in relation to the vision of the ideal home in 1940s Sweden. Two phenomena that are focused on are surveys of how people actually lived, and the attempts made to alter that way of living. The activities of Svenska Slöjdföreningen (SSF, the Swedish Society of Industrial Design) is used as a prism for discerning the discourse on domestic interior reform, and the study consists of a close reading and analysis based on archival material and publications linked to SSF. Part of the archival material consists of survey protocols and photograph, of Swedish homes, from a survey into “dwelling habits” initiated by the Association of Swedish Architects (SAR) and the SSF. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, these kinds of surveys were made in order to analyse the standard of living, and the usage of homes and furniture with the aim to find adequate ways of building better housing, of producing better furniture, and of educating people to be more modern and enlightened consumers and home-makers. Based on these findings, courses were given on how to furnish and decorate the home. Through courses in how to furnish and decorate the home, the ideal home was to become real. I mean that the concept of “taste” was almost as important as the concept of “home” in the vision of what modern Swedish society should be like, but that manifesting “good taste” in the home in the 1940s meant something more than merely creating an aesthetically pleasing or beautiful interior. Taste was, above all, seen as an indicator of the degree of modernity and social awareness of people.

Keywords

design history, interior design, taste, modernity, everyday life

COinS
 
Jul 1st, 12:00 AM

A Home for Modern Life: Educating taste in 1940s Sweden

This paper focuses on how interior decoration and taste was seen and taught in relation to the vision of the ideal home in 1940s Sweden. Two phenomena that are focused on are surveys of how people actually lived, and the attempts made to alter that way of living. The activities of Svenska Slöjdföreningen (SSF, the Swedish Society of Industrial Design) is used as a prism for discerning the discourse on domestic interior reform, and the study consists of a close reading and analysis based on archival material and publications linked to SSF. Part of the archival material consists of survey protocols and photograph, of Swedish homes, from a survey into “dwelling habits” initiated by the Association of Swedish Architects (SAR) and the SSF. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, these kinds of surveys were made in order to analyse the standard of living, and the usage of homes and furniture with the aim to find adequate ways of building better housing, of producing better furniture, and of educating people to be more modern and enlightened consumers and home-makers. Based on these findings, courses were given on how to furnish and decorate the home. Through courses in how to furnish and decorate the home, the ideal home was to become real. I mean that the concept of “taste” was almost as important as the concept of “home” in the vision of what modern Swedish society should be like, but that manifesting “good taste” in the home in the 1940s meant something more than merely creating an aesthetically pleasing or beautiful interior. Taste was, above all, seen as an indicator of the degree of modernity and social awareness of people.

 

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