This year, the iconic propaganda publication More Beautiful Everyday Goods (Vackrare Vardagsvara) celebrates 100 years. It was written by art historian Gregor Paulsson and encourages designers to work closely with factories to create functional everyday objects for everyone.
In 1919 the Swedish society of Crafts and Design, today known as Svensk Form and the world’s oldest design organization, published More Beautiful Everyday Goods (Vackrare Vardagsvara), which was written by its director at the time, Gregor Paulsson. In the publication, Paulsson advocates for the modern designer to cooperate with factories to create large series of functional items of high quality that are available for everyone. Through cooperation, form and function could be refined. Paulsson was inspired by visionary author Ellen Key, and her belief in a beautiful home for everyone. Ugliness would be eliminated through effective design and result in beautiful objects. One central idea of this publication was that good taste can be taught; one can create beautiful products that will promote good taste.
The publication has socially aesthetic goals, promoting the use of design as a tool to change society. This became the goal for the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design for a long time: to encourage industries to produce everyday items, such as glass, porcelain, furniture and textiles. Cheap products, but still beautiful and of good quality. To achieve this goal the new generation’s designers would be given a proper industrial art education.
So, how relevant are Gregor Paulsson’s ideas 100 years later? We asked Mats Widbom, CEO of Svensk Form, what he thinks about his precursor ideas. “The Swedish Society of Crafts and Design’s first propaganda publication More Beautiful Everyday Goods is not only of historical interest. There are thoughts that are still relevant today. Such as the social commitment and the interest in connecting art and technology, or as Gregor Paulsson expresses it, almost as an incantation “The art and industry can naturally belong together instead of being enemies”. Such an alliance is particularly important at a time when society must be transformed in a sustainable direction in a short time and where both technological innovation and artistic design are needed”, Mats Widbom argues.