Nordic Spirit Symposium

Please visit Nordic Spirit Classics Second Friday Series for information on our monthly series.

This page represents a past Nordic Spirit Symposium and serve as examples of what you might see at future Symposium

Scandinavian Design: Simple and Beautiful

February 10 & 11, 2023

In the middle of the 20th century, Danish Modern and, more generally, Scandinavian Modern Design, gained popularity in the United States. This symposium will examine the reasons for this popularity, will delve into different design media for two countries, Finland and Norway, and will treat the long-term history of ceramic and glass design in Denmark and Sweden. The theme of Scandinavian design applied to architecture and interior design will be addressed in the opening talk Feb. 10 by an Icelandic American architect. The February symposium is in-person. However, the initial Jan. 11 and 13, 2023, presentation on Danish Modern will be virtual.

Danish Modern: Design for Living

WED., JAN. 11, 2023 – 12:30 p.m. PST

Tova Brandt, Executive Director, Museum of Danish America, Elkhorn, Iowa

Brandt will show the wonderful furniture designs that came out of Denmark in the 1950s and 1960s, and explain why so many pieces are known by descriptive names like the Ant Chair, Peacock Chair, and Artichoke Lamp. She will discuss the iconic designs and designers of the period, such as Hans Wagner, Finn Juhl, and Arne Jacobsen. She will also discuss the strategies through which American consumers developed a taste for Danish Modern, and how that legacy continues into the 21st century.

Contact for Zoom registration information.

FRIDAY, JAN. 13, 2023 – 7:30 p.m. PST

Pre-recorded Zoom of Tova Brandt’s Wednesday talk, Danish Modern: Design for Living Repeated

Contact for Zoom registration information.

FRIDAY, FEB. 10, 2023

Scandinavian Center – 26 Faculty Street, Thousand Oaks
5:30 – 6:30 p.m. Gala Reception
Reservations requested – Admission is $15.

Samuelson Chapel – California Lutheran University
6:15 – 7:00 p.m. Registration
7:00 – 9:30 p.m. Program

Function Combined with Inspiration from Nature: Atelier Gulla Jonsdottir’s Strain of Modernism

Gulla Jónsdóttir, Atelier Gulla Jonsdottir, West Hollywood, California.

Scandinavian design is timeless – it is simple, beautiful, finely crafted, and made with natural materials that appeal on a fundamentally human level. At Atelier Gulla Jonsdottir, there is an inherent Scandinavian undercurrent in its work, driven, above all, by an emphasis on quality and natural materials.

From Artek to Vallila: Functionality and Form in Finnish Design

Leslie Anne Anderson, Director of Collections, Exhibitions and Programs, National Nordic Museum, Seattle, Washington.

This talk explores the work of Finnish design companies focusing on textiles, fashion, furniture, glass, and ceramics, as well as the individuals who contributed to and guided their creative direction.

Friday evening admission is $25 (reception not included); FREE for students, Cal Lutheran faculty and staff.

SATURDAY, FEB. 11, 2023

Samuelson Chapel – California Lutheran University
8:15 a.m. Registration
9:00 – 5:15 p.m. Program, Breaks and Lunch

Scandinavian Design in the United States, 1890-1980

Bobbye Tigerman, Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator, Decorative Arts and Design, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Co-curator of Scandinavian Design and the United States, 1890-1980.

The speaker will discuss the ideas and theme of the museum exhibition, Scandinavian Design in the United States, 1890-1980, and share thoughts about questions like, why was Danish Modern furniture so popular and did IKEA invent flat-pack. The exhibition examines the design exchanges between the United States and the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, and includes a wide range of design media, from iconic Dansk kitchenware to a Volvo.

From Blue Lace to Axel Salto: Two Centuries of Danish Ceramics

Diya Nagaraj, Curator, Museum of Danish America, Elk Horn, Iowa.

Danish ceramics have a long and storied history that spans almost 250 years. While Royal Copenhagen and Bing & Grøndahl might be best known for their Christmas plates, their production has ranged through everything from telegraph insulators to large sculptural pieces. This presentation will explore that story, with particular focus on the Art Nouveau period (1885-1920), a time when Denmark stepped into the international spotlight for their ceramics work.

Design, History and Demonstration of a Finnish Kantele

Rebekah Scogin, Ventura, California.

Noon, Lunch Break
1:30 p.m. Afternoon Program

Design, History and Demonstration of a Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle

Darren Michaels, Pasadena, California.

Scandinavian Modern Design in Norway

Laurann Gilbertson, Chief Curator, Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, Iowa.

Norway’s contributions to the Scandinavian Modern Design movement were many, but the artists and products were not as well known as their Danish, Swedish, and Finnish counterparts. Meet some of the most important designers of the mid-twentieth century and learn about their work in furniture, textiles, silver, glass, ceramics, and enamel.

Design, History and Demonstration of a Swedish Nyckleharpa

Torkil Hammer, Ph.D., Newbury Park, California.

Fluidity: Identity in Swedish Glass

Inga Thiesen, Collections Manager, and Erin Stromgren, Exhibition Manager, American Swedish Institute, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Glass moves. Glass heals. Glass speaks. Fluidity: Identity in Swedish Glass highlights the breadth and depth of female glass artists who have been underrecognized in the industry. With examples taken from the American Swedish Institute’s impressive glass collection, this talk will explore objects which represent the women who helped shape the popularity of Swedish glass and helped studios like Orrefors and Kosta Boda become household names.

Saturday admission is $50 (meals not included), free for students and Cal Lutheran faculty and staff.


Lundring Events Center, California Lutheran University
5:30 – 6:00 p.m. Social
6:00 p.m. Dinner; Entertainment
Reservations required. Dinner admission is $45.

Early registration deadline: January 20, 2023.
Meal registration deadline: January 30, 2023.


Registration Form

For information, please contact or contact Howard at (805) 497-3717.

This event is partially supported by The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, a California nonprofit corporation with an intent to provide support to nonprofit organizations that benefit Swedish education, culture and arts.

This event is partially supported by the Norway House Foundation, a California nonprofit corporation dedicated to honoring the Norwegian seafarers who risked their lives for the Allied cause in World War II. The Norway House Foundation carries out its mission by promoting, encouraging, and supporting educational, professional and cultural exchange between Norway and Northern California.

The organizers reserve the right to make any changes that may be necessary.