Storytellers: The Objects of the Modernist Collection

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How often do we look at our favourite mug or vase and consider its history or its design?

Honestly, I cannot say that I have done that very often. This, however, drastically changed once I started my internship at the National Museum of Scotland. While I was labelling and cataloguing the Modernist Collection, I learned a lot about the individual objects, their design and history. It also made me realise that I do not question or examine the design of products, glassware and ceramics around me enough.

A compilation of three images, one shows a volunteer pass, one a computer and one shows the grand gallery.

I have picked some objects of the collection which particularly caught my interest due to either their unique form or the story behind them. Of course, this is only a very small glimpse into the Modernist Collection which holds many more compelling objects and stories

1. Juicy Salif, designed by Philippe Starck for Alessi

The appearance of this iconic lemon squeezer is rather unusual. It looks more like a creature out of a science fiction story than a kitchen utensil and its functionality is often questioned. Some love it, others hate it. What do you think?

Juicy Salif, designed by Philippe Starck for Alessi
Juicy Salif, designed by Philippe Starck for Alessi. Museum reference: K.2015.23.412

2. Trulla glasses, designed by Michael Boehm for Rosenthal

Just like the Juicy Salif, these glasses already stand out due to their unusual, scoop-like form. That is also how they have been advertised on their packaging where they are described as the perfect glasses for parties of the unconventional, fun-loving people.

Trulla glasses, designed by Michael Boehm for Rosenthal
Trulla glasses, designed by Michael Boehm for Rosenthal. museum reference: K.2015.23.243

3. Aalto Vase or Savoy Vase, designed by Alvar Aalto for Iittala

Another object which has become known for its unique shape (aalto = wave). In fact, its wavy form left such a big impression that the vase won the first prize in the 1936 Karhula-Iittala Glass Design Competition.

Aalto Vase or Savoy Vase, designed by Alvar Aalto for Iittala
Aalto Vase or Savoy Vase, designed by Alvar Aalto for Iittala. Museum reference: K.2015.23.223

4. Brunch-set, designed by Annemette Kissow for Vipp

Here not so much the appearance but rather the backstory of its manufacturer caught my interest. It all started with Holger Nielsen being asked by his wife to construct a bin for her beauty salon and due to the request of her clients, he began to produce more of them. Now, 80 years later, the family business has expanded and also manufactures kitchens and ceramics that go with its aesthetic. From bin to brunch-set.

Brunch-set, designed by Annemette Kissow for Vipp
Brunch-set, designed by Annemette Kissow for Vipp. Museum reference: K.2015.23.262

Find out more about Modernist Designs in our collection:

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