07 Oct Norwegian Design With Rose Hittmeyer

Design is everywhere and we love to see what is trending across the globe. Rose Hittmeyer, Interior Designer and IFDA NY Chapter Administrator, recently embarked on a trip to Norway discovering ancient trend traditions and color combinations. We decided to get a report back from Rose on the most memorable moments from her trip. Enjoy!

Interior Designer and IFDA NY Chapter Administrator


A Look at Norwegian Design With Rose Hittmeyer

If I told you I was writing about Norwegian design from my recent travels to Norway you’d be expecting a regaling of Norwegian Architects like Snøhetta or furniture designs from Sven Ivar Dysthe, Right? Well surprise, I am here to tell you about a great secret, the tradition of Norwegian decorative Painting and ancient folk arts called Rosemaling, and their related carvings and textiles. You will see these paintings in churches, on furniture and on everyday serving pieces.

The two greatest resources that Norway has in abundance are water and trees, which gives you cheap hydro electric power and wood, lots of it. The Norwegians take full advantage of the strong hard woods, using them for every part of Norse life from housing, furniture and ships to ale bowls. It weathers the long dark winters by showing off its gorgeous patinas.


Medieval homes and storage houses in farms as far north as the Arctic Circle, are still in use and modern homes are built in similar styles interpreted in contemporary building materials. Wooden-log construction with grass roofs insulate against the cold and snow.



Wooden Log Construction with Grass Roofs

Exteriors have a signature Nordic color palette, consistent no matter which valley you are driving through. Red is by far the most popular color in urban and coastal settings. Rural buildings most often are the traditional weathered wood. Stave churches are often darkened wood but there are 5 red churches in all of Norway.

The palette takes its cue from nature, contrasting against the grass fields and brightening the long dark winters. Red, yellows ranging from sunflower to ochre, sage greens, dark and light gray, dark brown from weathered woods and white. The cottages are often trimmed in white but the reds and greens are beautifully combined to create a breathtaking foil to the sky and fjords.


Rural Buildings

The exterior colors will be one of the first things to catch your eye; but its color influence comes directly from nature and follows through into all the folk arts. Rosemaling, textiles, embroidery, and carving all influence each other both in color, texture and pattern. Rosemalers and Artists traveled from community to community to sell their services and were inspired by other “Rose Painter’s” work so the styles overlap in pattern, detail and color.

Telemark, is one of the most well known styles. It features scrolls emanating from a “root”. Like nature, it’s asymmetrical but the graceful flowers are very stylized and not representative of any specific flora. This rose painting has beautiful and delicate detail line work. Compare the embroidered hem of a Ladies National Costume to the front of an antique trunk painted by Thomas Luraas and a carved panel from a built-in dining room cabinet. I was a bit surprised to see that woman of all ages, really do wear their costumes often, to church events,  holidays and always when you visit the Royal Palace to see the King and Queen!


Antique Trunk Painted by Thomas Luraas


Ladies National Costume

Os is the “newest” style growing in popularity in the region just south of Bergen in the early 1800s. Os features bright colored whimsical flowers in symmetrical layouts on bright white, black and often bright orange-reds. The three legged chair is a Norwegian staple in many homes since medieval times. The black ground image is a detail of a modern day table top and the wedding trunk is dated 1878 with the bridal couple’s names on the front and features a scene of their town’s landmark buildings. The modern embroidered pillow case puts a modern twist on Os by using grey which was not a color that Rosemaler favored. While there isn’t a carving style that directly corresponded with Os it seems ancient metal work may have been some inspiration for Os with its symmetrical stylized flowers.





Embroidered Pillow Case


Wedding Trunk

The Valdres style must be inspired by the prolific flowers that grow in the Norwegian spring time. While the weather is not is as warm as we may be used to, the plants get sunlight for 20 hours and day and seem to love it.

The black ground trunk front is a detail of Rosemaler Eli Saelid’s work from her living room. The antique trunks have approached the art with very different colors and patterns but you can clearly identify the flowers and fruit. A unique detail from the Valdres style is Chinoiserie scenic panels in monochromatic blues. Look closely to see the tree of life, the large one symbolizing the strong mature part of life; the small sapling in the back symbolizing youth, and the tree stump symbolizing the end of the cycle of life.


Valdres style

While I went to Norway to study and research Rosemaling, I must tell you how beautiful the country is. I took about 4000 pictures in 24 days (thank you digital cameras!) and have painted several watercolors from my landscape images. I must share these with you. My favorite pictures were of the mountain tops, driving past the frozen lakes and glaciers. The Fjords have so many moods from calm and reflective to wild and raging. Driving thought the mountains passes, I was amazed at the small houses, bright spots of color tucked away, miles from civilization.



About Rose Hittmeyer:

Rosemarie Hittmeyer started her career as a fashion designer for Ladies evening wear.  When her fashion business closed she jumped the fence into Home Fashions.She has been working as a home products freelance designer and marketing consultant and has spent much of her time on IFDA activities as the NY Chapter Administrator.

With the support of an IFDA/EF grant and an EF scholarship, she returned to her Alma Mata, The Fashion Institute of Technology and earned an AAS degree with honors in interior design. Her favorite projects at school were the retail store and the restaurant. She hopes to work for an Interior Design firm that specializes in hospitality, but says residential would be fun too as it expresses her great love of pillows.

Outside of the home furnishings arena she is an avid artist. Her landscape paintings have crept into her ceramic work where she brings the love of the flowers and the outside on to the table. She’s been a Rosemaler since 1999 and is ready to get to work with all the Norwegian inspiration she gathered on her trip to Norway to study Rosemaling and carving. She has to paint the 20 pieces of turned wood ale bowls she brought back in her suitcase.

  • Su Hilty
    Posted at 22:15h, 07 October Reply

    Great write up and a wonderful tour of that beautiful land.

  • Debbie Viola
    Posted at 16:05h, 08 October Reply

    Thank you for sharing your colorful and fascinating story of Rosemaling. As an artist, I can appreciate the days of painting that must go into each piece ;the intricate details are amazing

  • Giselle Ulmo
    Posted at 02:14h, 13 October Reply

    Rose that was a wonderful unsight on your travel adventure. It really gave me a perspective into Norway cultural art.

  • Sue Willis
    Posted at 16:59h, 19 October Reply

    Beautiful post! The color is extraordinary, especially that of the architecture against the stunning landscape. Really enjoyed it–great job!

  • Carl Larson
    Posted at 04:55h, 21 November Reply

    As a Rosemaler I found your post very interesting and so informative, different points I never realized. Thank You!

Post A Comment