Nordic Designer Brings Vibrant Colors to Minneapolis 

American Swedish Institute exhibit showcases Nordic fashion design and sustainability in Minneapolis 

By: Alexandra Larson


During a week of rain and fog, stepping into the vibrant, “Gudrun Sjödén—a Colorful Universe” exhibit is a welcome rush of warmth and delight. Gudrun Sjödén’s exhibit showcases the Nordic designer’s fashion designs, textiles, photographs, and writings and will be at the American Swedish Institute (ASI) in Minneapolis until October 28.


Greeted by giant cloth paint brushes suspended from the ceiling over a paint palette table, it feels like intruding on an artist’s studio. Bright floral watercolor paintings hang on one wall, and polka-dotted designs worn by more human-sized paint brushes line the other. Photographs and a desk take up space in the corner, showing Sjödén making her designs by hand in Sweden. Her bright white hair, colored glasses, and lively layered tunics make her look like a warm-hearted Nordic Mrs. Weasley, ready to make anyone a sweater. 


Illustration by Emily Jablonski

Illustration by Emily Jablonski

The exhibit is part of ASI’s focus on “The Handmade”for its 2018 season. “With Gudrun, we’re honored to present the Midwest debut of an exhibition celebrating this innovative and internationally acclaimed designer and to delve into the connection between art and a forward-thinking company led by and inspired by women,” the CEO of ASI, Bruce Karstadt, said. 


Continuing up the second and third level of the institute, the exhibit incorporates videos documenting Sjödén’s technique. One video shows the process cotton goes through.

 Another plays to folk music, displaying models dressed in wool and felt strapping on skis in the snow with Nordic-style braided hair.


“A Colorful Universe” tells the story of a designer building a sustainable and empowering fashion company through both successes and challenges. The mixture of whimsical colors, textures, videos, photographs and paintings is a pleasure for the senses. One museumgoer said it best when she exclaimed, “Oh this is really... cheerful.” Hours and admission info can be found on the ASI website, Students pay $5 with an ID.

Wake Mag