5-6 Oct 2017: The Nordic Utility Glass Conference

The Nordic Utility Glass Conference 2017: Glass, dining and design

Glass, dining and design is the theme for The Nordic Utility Glass Conference 2017. This year's conference takes place in Växjö and is being organised by Kulturparken Småland/The Swedish Glass Museum and Linnaeus University.

Conference closed

The Nordic Untility Glass Conference 2017 aims to explore utility glass from a cultural and design-history perspective with a focus on dining and table setting artefacts throughout the ages.

We are proud to announce confirmed speakers: Lina Grund-Bäck, RISE, Gunnel Holmér and Björn Arfvidsson, Kulturparken Småland/The Swedish Glass Museum, Kaisa Koivisto, The Finnish Glass Museum, Erika Lagerbielke, Linnaeus University, Carita Rassa, Ph D student Finland, Anders Selbing, Glasrikets Skatter.

The conference welcomes researchers, designers, museum staff, glass specialists, students and glass enthusiasts.

The first Nordic Utility Glass Conference was held in Denmark in 2016 on the initiative of Naestved Museum, this one will be the second in the series.

This year's conference welcomes researchers, designers, museum staff, glass specialists, students and glass enthusiasts.

Short information on the conference 

The conference fee 900 SEK includes conference dinner, lunch day 2 and transport to and from Kulturarvscentrum Småland (archives and collections).
Students are invited to attend the lectures free of charge, meals at cost. The conference fee will be invoiced to your email address.

The conference will take place att The House of Emigrants, Södra Järnvägsgatan 2, Växjö.

Please register to and address any questions to:

Gunnel Holmér, Kulturparken Småland:
Phone: +46 (0) 470 70 42 04

For further information please follow this link: Kulturparken Småland

Please register no later than 22 of September!


Thursday October 5th

10.00 The museum opens, opportunity to visit current exhibitions

12.30 Registration

13.00 Welcome
Lennart Johansson, CEO, Kulturparken Småland, Sweden

13.15 Setting the Table – Setting a Lifestyle? Educational table setting projects during the 20th century
Kaisa Koivisto, The Finnish Glass Museum, Finland

14.00 Utility glass from Holmegaard Glassworks – future research, educational activities and exhibitions
Mette Bielefeldt Bruun, Museum Sydøstdanmark, Denmark

14.45 Coffee

15.15 Eternal Glass and Glass deposits – from waste to resource
Lina Grund Bäck, RISE, Sweden

16.00 On the Orrefors table
Anders Selbing, Sweden

16.45 Like or dislike
Erika Lagerbielke, Linnaeus University, Sweden

17.30 Your own time

19.00 Glass tasting Beer, a sensory experience
with Erika Lagerbielke at Smålands museum

19.30 Buffet dinner at Smålands museum
Opportunity to visit the museums current exhibitions

Friday October 6th

9.00 Three centuries of tableware from Kosta Glassworks
Gunnel Holmér/Björn Arfvidsson
Kulturparken Småland/The Swedish Glass Museum, Sweden

9.45 Finnish utility glass designs in late 1960s and early 1970s
Carita Rassa, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

10.30 Coffee

11.00 Taylorism as designer of functional glass
Anna Livén West, Sweden

11.45 Lunch

12.30 Bus from to Kulturarvscentrum (The Centre for Cultural Heritage)

13.00 Guided tour of the glass collection at Kulturarvscentrum

14.30 Summary and closure, coffee

15.00 Bus to Växjö Resecentrum (train station), 20-30 min

Conference speakers and lectures

Kaisa Koivisto: Setting the Table – Setting a Lifestyle? Educational table setting projects during the 20th century

Kaisa Koivisto, chief curator at the Finnish Glass Museum

Since the end of the late 19th century cultivating taste of the 'ordinary' people became an issue. Design could make serial products better. Behind educational projects was also cleanliness and better nutrition. Better or more beautiful homes would make better citizens. Setting the dining table became a useful way to illustrate healthier food and correct ways to use glass and porcelain. Lifestyle was not the word used. However, the fact remains, that the educational projects were not much different from lifestyle projects of today.

Kaisa Koivisto is Chief Curator at The Finnish Glass Museum and has been employed there since 1980. She has a Ph. D degree in art history (University of Helsinki) with a thesis about Finnish glass design 1946-1957. She has published many books, catalogues and articles about Finnish glass and she has organized exhibitions both in Finland and abroad.

Mette Bielefeldt Bruun: Utility glass from Holmegaard Glassworks – future research, educational activities and exhibitions.

Mette Bielefeldt Bruun, head of Naestved Museum, Denmark

In 2010 Næstved Museum in Denmark received a donation of 35.000 glasses from Holmegaard Glassworks dating back to 1825. The glass collection form an important part of Danish cultural heritage and is a testimony of utility glass production and design in Denmark for almost 200 years. Now, almost fully catalogued, it will play a vital role in the transformation of the now abandoned glasswork in Fensmark in Denmark into "The New Holmegaard". This paper will explore how utility glass from the collection will be part of future research projects, educational programs and new exhibitions.

Mette Bielefeldt Bruun is Head of Næstved Museum, Museum Southeast Denmark. She has a M.A. degree in Art History and is specialized in design. She has worked at various Danish museums and has since 2015 focused mainly on Danish glass and ceramics.

Lina Grund Bäck: Eternal Glass and Glass deposits – from waste to resource

Lina Grund Bäck, project leader at RISE

Glass is a material that can be re-melted again and again and again, so in theory no glass should be deposited. In the project Eternal Glass a mapping of the life cycle of all kinds of glass is ongoing in order to find possible ways to recycle more glass. The project Glass deposits – from waste to resource is about using the crystal glass that is placed on landfills. A method to separate glass and lead is studied in lab scale and the possibility to do it in industrial scale is also investigated. Many interesting ideas about what to do with the non-lead glass has been appeared in work-shops with glass designers.

Lina Grund Bäck has a Ph. D in glass technology and is working as researcher and project leader at RISE Glass (former Glafo) since 2015. She works in many different kinds of projects, mainly within glass chemistry, but also with flat glasses and coatings. Her specialty is hardness- and scratch testing on glass and other materials. Since 2015 she has a PhD in glass technology. The name of her thesis is: Redox reactions and structure – properties relations in mixed alkali/alkaline earth silicate glasses.

Anders Selbing: On the Orrefors table

Anders Selbing, board member of Föreningen Glasrikets Skatter

The Orrefors Glass Factory archives contains maybe 200,000 pictures from late 19th to early 21st century. A majority of these were produced to promote sales, and therefore the character of the presumed buyers can be identified. Also, the influence of socioeconomic conditions in the Swedish society on the factory's choice of target group for sales promotion can be observed. The photos were produced in Orrefors and reflects what my father John Selbing, the artists and the sales department of the company considered "up to date". I have limited the studied time to 1920s-1970s.

Anders Selbing, professor in medicin, Linköping University. Member of the board Föreningen Glasrikets Skatter (the Orrefors archives and glass collections). Son of John Selbing, full time photographer at Orrefors 1932-1973.

Erika Lagerbielke: Like or dislike

Erika Lagerbielke, professor in glass design, Linnaeus University

The presentation is a discussion on what the factors are that affect the choice of artefacts for the dining table. It is based on two cases from the speakers own design practice; the development of the glass designs Friday and Beer. How are societal values visualized in table settings and how are they present when choosing the artefacts for the meal?

Erika Lagerbielke is professor in glass design at Linnaeus University. Her fields of interest are The importance of artefacts to the meal experience, The cultural heritage in glass and A sustainable approach to glass development. Erika Lagerbielke is designer with the main field glass design. She has cooperated with international glass brand Orrefors since 1982. She has created design icons such as Intermezzo, Difference and Divine.

Gunnel Holmér & Björn Arfvidsson: Three centuries of tableware from Kosta glassworks

Gunnel Holmér, senior curator, Kulturparken Småland

Tableware has been produced at Kosta glassworks since 1742. This lecture is about how their range has evolved from a few simple models to many large sets of tableware. By using a number of different examples, it will be shown how the shape of drinking glasses has changed and the importance of the influences behind this process will be discussed. Production at Kosta has been – and still is – based on craftsmanship, but technical development has also been of great importance as well as the role of designers. Also, to be discussed will be new consumer groups, changing lifestyles and influences from foreign markets.

Björn Arfvidsson, curator at Kulturparken Småland/The Swedish Glass Museum

Gunnel Holmér is Senior Curator at Kulturparken Småland/The Swedish Glass Museum, where she has worked since 1978. She has a Ph. D in History and has recently published her thesis about immigrant workers in the Swedish glass industry. She has also published many papers, articles and catalogues about Swedish glass and has worked with numerous exhibitions internationally.

Björn Arfvidsson is Curator at Kulturparken Småland/The Swedish Glass Museum. He joined the museum in 2006 and specializes in Swedish glass. He has a MA degree in History and has worked as a glass blower at the Sandvik's glass factory.

Carita Rassa: Finnish utility glass designs in late 1960s and early 1970s

Carita Rassa, Jyväskylä University

The lecture at the conference deals with the time when decorative patterns were extremely popular and an icy look became Iittala's trademark. All Finnish glass factories produced decorative utility glasses but in their own way.

Carita Rassa is Doctoral Student at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Jyväskylä. The main objective of her research is to study how and why Finnish glass design changed in 1965-1975.

Anna Livén West: Taylorism as designer of functional glass

Anna Livén West, designer

I will give you my thoughts and ideas of the social and aesthetic background of pressed glass in the first half of 1900 and how German architecture in the beginning of the 20th century formed the modernistic glass for everyday use.
How could rational thinking, machine aesthetics and the book Household Engineering-Scientific Management in the Home make the path for functionalistic storage bins in pressed glass.

Anna Livén West has a MFA from Konstfack and a background as designer of ceramic and glass. In 2011, she and Thomas Lindblad wrote and produced the book Funkisglass-pressat och blåst. Here she interests her for the social and aesthetics of everyday glass. She has produced and curated several craft exhibitions in both Sweden and abroad and is now employed as administrative officer in the field of visual arts and craft at Swedish Arts Council.