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Unmaking Democratic Design: Fredrik Paulsen

When you have the luxury of spending a couple of nights in a new city, one of the great benefits is doing a little exploration. Last month I had that opportunity when I visited Göteborg, a city on the southern east coast of Sweden, almost equidistant between Copenhagen and the Norwegian border.

Göteborg is home to Röhsska Museet, a wonderful museum of design and craft. Apart from having a permanent collection of design history which I highly recommend, one of their current exhibitions is Unmaking Democratic Design: Fredrik Paulsen.

Paulsen was commissioned by the museum to interpret the notion of democratic design. He chose to design a chair for the purpose.

Exploring what democracy means in terms of design usually refers to public spaces, accessibility and cost. Poulsen chose to interpret democracy from another angle though - the materiality and process of making furniture.

In this exhibition, visitors have the opportunity to design and make furniture alongside guest designers and to have their pieces on display for the duration of the exhibition. As I explored the room, one sign stood out to me; some conditions to adhere to.

  1. The chair has to be a joint effort;
  2. The chair has to be made from materials and using tools provided by the museum;
  3. The chair must have a backrest and legs and it must be possible to sit on it.

While walking through the exhibition, I saw one group of friends designing, discussing, constructing and deconstructing a chair. Through the semi-opaque plastic sheeting surrounding the workshop I observed democracy in action.


Unmaking Democratic Design at Röhsska Museet runs through til mid-May 2019.