Arne Korsmo. Architecture and design

Brænne, Jon, Eirik T. Bøe and Astrid Skjerven: Arne Korsmo. Arkitektur og Design

Arne Korsmo was one of Norway’s most highly respected architects. This book spans the complete spectrum of his output, from town planning and housing to exhibitions and the design of individual artefacts. The authors explore the ways in which Korsmo’s approach to architecture, his use of colour and sense of the decorative, open the way to entirely new perspectives on functionalism in the period between the wars. This excursion through the Villa Dammann (Oslo), his wall decorations, his studio in Planetveien (Oslo) and his Korsmo Cutlery design, provides new insight into what Korsmo came to represent, as well as into the Modernist era in Norway. The book is both the story of this unique artist’s work and also an introduction to an important époque in history.

Extract from the book:

Within Norwegian architectural history, Korsmo (1900-1968) is considered one of the leading practitioners of his day. He is regarded as one of our greatest modernist architects, perhaps the greatest, and has been the subject of an admiration that borders on a kind of hero-worship. It is a view shared by many within design history too, where industrial designers regard him as a father figure. In a Nordic and international context he is comparable in stature with Finland’s Alvar Aalto, Sweden’s Gunnnar Asplund and Denmark’s Arne Jacobsen.

Scandinavian Design
His marriage to the designer Grete Prytz Kittelsen meant that he came to play an important part in developing the Norwegian contribution to the Scandinavian Design period, both with his own industrial designs and as an exhibition architect. Korsmo was active in applied arts in Norway at a time when it was evolving at a tremendous pace, rising out of nothing in around 1945 to the Scandinavian Design period’s high point and industrial designers’ early output in the mid 50s. He was an important contributor in the transition between a national inward looking focus following the war, to a more outward looking and international approach to design leading up to 1960. Arne Korsmo was involved in defining and giving profile to the Norwegian contribution to the Scandinavian Design period and in shaping the new role of interdisciplinary design. At that time he created his second important work; the couple’s house and studio in Planetveien, which, paired with the Villa Dammann, represents one of the most defining works of the period. His mode of expression was in keeping with the " organic" trends of the period.

Wholeness and "interplay"
Korsmo’s ideal was the holistic shaping of the whole of a person’s living space. His aim was to achieve what he called " interplay". The outside space would function together with the inner space. The architectural space would be the deciding factor in the design of any objects. Simultaneously, architecture would be created from within; the human body and mind being the starting point for the formation of its surroundings. That the hand would touch and feel the object was especially important in his design. Thus the "interplay" should shift from outside to inside as well from the inside to out. This approach to the design process which Korsmo advocated, has its roots in the mid 19th century. It was advanced over the next century by amongst others, Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Gropius and Alvar Aalto.

First published: 2004, Universitetsforlaget

Jon Brænne: Biography and bibliography
Eirik T. Bøe: Biography and bibliography
Astrid Skjerven: Biography and bibliography

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