Dusty: Cutting Edge Design Grounded in Classic Scandinavia


We all recognise a design, a style or an art form, that is timeless because somehow it doesn’t age. And in contrast, therefore, we easily recognise design that is not classic – because it looks so jarring, amusing and silly almost.

But with the ‘classics’, somehow they always look good and they retain a value that grows over time. You may not wear it, choose to adorn your home with it, or even listen to it. But it is unquestionably classic because it is iconic. It represents a look that is part of something significant, a time, a colour or a movement even.

Personally speaking, classic to me does not mean boring and old. In my opinion, the most powerful art is invariably part of a movement. And nearly always, the most iconic work done by an artist tends to be in their younger years. It is therefore by definition youthful and energetic.

In late September in Copenhagen, I joined Canon’s Anton Strand at the Dansk Design Museum and presented as part of a special event for Danish designers focused on the potential of digital printing for décor. The key focal point for the content was the work done by the Norwegian Dusty Project and by listening and meeting the duo, I discovered a world that is classically Norwegian yet as current and as exciting as anything I have seen today.

‘Dusty’ is a dynamic creative and business partnership based on design, digitally produced photography and a portfolio of creations centred on local Norwegian cultural and natural identity. What is impressive, exciting and interesting about the Dusty project, (which has been supported by Canon since its inception) is the fact this approach is applicable to anyone, anywhere in the world with the dedication to bring it to life. It is local, but it has a kind of open and global appeal.

It is called ‘Dusty’ because the colour ranges used are subtle, gentle, and hazy and the images are soft and pleasing to the eye, as opposed to aggressive or attention seeking. The effect is that it enhances a space and evokes a feeling as opposed to prodding you for attention and overwhelming your mind. It is not ‘maximalism’, and it is certainly not minimalism either, however, the overall effect is comfortable, largely I imagine due to thought and time that has gone into the whole concept.

What I also like about the Dusty project is the fact that it is all linked to stories, and as a result, it is far more powerful because as humans we are hardwired to respond to a compelling narrative.

The thought and the story attached to the design and colours are deeply rooted in Norwegian landscapes, traditional patterns and the inspiration that designers and artists had from the past by taking a cue from them. Natural Norwegian landscapes play a large role, whilst placing a modern twist into it all with the use of digital technology, and therefore making it possible to print to order so that a home or any environment can be the ultimate unique expression of personal taste or style. It retains the warmth and ‘dusty’ analogue colours of yesterday yet benefits from the flexibility and responsiveness of digital.

Digital printing is an enabler of many things. And when it enables reigniting many traditional elements of a culture which is both redolent and relevant it mixes the best of the past with the best of today in terms of technology, and the possibilities are exciting.

The ‘Dusty Book’ is a crystallisation of thought, a collection of stories and is an inspiration for design and décor. Utilising the latest technologies that photographer Jorunn Tharaldson (left in picture) brilliantly exploits with Canon digital photographic technology, the recreation of natural and traditional patterns superbly created by interior architect Maria Horgen (right in picture) utilising Canon inkjet printing technology with new digitally printed wallpapers. This carefully curated approach to design and print is an inspiring example of what is possible with a lot of thought, and work, and collaboration between them, and with Anton Strand and his team at Canon Norway.

The ‘Dusty’ book really brings it all together and helps to convey the concepts superbly in printed form.

The images and designs are really worth taking the time to view, so too are reading the stories and explanations. Rooted in history, well written and researched and carefully curated you can’t help but be inspired by Norwegian colours, traditions and design. The book is a distillation of a lot of creative work and thinking. This project, in my view, deserves to be highly successful, and I am sure it will continue to be! I look forward to seeing how this grows and develops.

For further information please check out the Dusty website and their Instagram account @dustyfarger