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Gunnar Nylund was one of the most influential ceramicists and designers of the Swedish mid-century period. He was Rörstrand’s creative leader from 1931 until 1949 and as such propelled the artistic work at the factory and served as mentor to younger artists, among them Carl-Harry Stålhane and Hertha Bengtsson.
Nylund was a dedicated functionalist, who brought ideas of democratizing stoneware and creating beautiful, qualitative and affordable everyday items for the people to Rörstand in the mid-1920s. The factory had at the time lost its former leading market position, but Nylund’s efforts gave it a great reboot. He designed ceramic kitchenware inspired by the ideas of Le Corbusier and Bauhaus, for use in homes, restaurants and inside refrigerators (a progressive idea in the early 1940s when it was launched). He is best known for his exquisite decorative stoneware items which include an abundance of vases, wall reliefs, sculptures and animal figurines. The materials range from velvety smooth stoneware to rough and chunky chamotte.
Danish born, Gunnar Nylund started his career in Denmark following art studies, a year of architecture studies and years of private lesson from his sculptor father, the artist Felix Nylund. He worked for Bing & Grøndahl early in his professional life and started the ceramic studio Nylund & Krebs, later Saxbo, with his colleague Nathalie Krebs in 1929. He returned to Bing & Grøndahl throughout the years as a freelance designer. He also worked for the ceramic studio Nymølle from 1957 to 1961.
Gunnar Nylund had a long and active career that except for stoneware included bathroom furnishing designs for Ifö, glass vases for Strömbergshyttan, a dinosaur sculpture for Bromölla kommun and several public works. He was an inventor who explored ideas for energy production and many other areas. He was active as a ceramicist into the late years of his long life.
Nylund is held in high esteem today for his beautiful stoneware and exquisite glazes that continue to awe and please the senses.
Literature: Gunnar Nylund: konstnär och industriformgivare. Petter Eklund. Historiska Media, 2017
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