It runs way deeper than just IKEA: See how Scandinavian immigrants and aesthetics informed 20th-century design trends in the United States and impacted sustainability (and a little bit of politics) around the globe.
LACMA’s colorful exhibition explores the exchange of ideas and aesthetics between the United States and Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland, starting with traditional practices brought over by artists in the late 1800s (think: Dala horses, smorgasbord plates and chairs covered with painted flourishes) and up to contemporary prints and products from recognizable brands like Marimekko, Dansk, Troll Dolls and LEGO.
The exhibition is broken up into three galleries divided thematically within each of those, with displays that cover styles like modernism and the Viking Revival as well as concepts like the soft power of Nordic architects’ United Nations design and the consumer-driven romanticization of Scandinavian style. There’s plenty of craftsmanship to admire (make sure to see the Saarinen family’s tapestries and furniture for the Cranbrook Academy of Art), all wonderfully framed in a colorful space by Bestor Architecture. (Oh, and it’s worth mentioning that a Marimekko-filled gift shop awaits at the end of the exhibit.)