Norwegian painter, graphic artist, and industrial designer Hermann Bongard is remembered as one of Norway’s most prolific creatives. Chiefly active in the 1950s and 1960s, his work runs the gamut from art glass to assorted typography, illustration, furniture, ceramic kitchenware and pottery, as well as wrought ironwork.
Born in 1921 in Oslo, Bongard studied at the Norwegian National Academy of Craft and Art Industry (SHKS) from 1938 to 1941. He shares his alma mater with an array of enduring Norwegian artisans like Torbjørn Afdal, Ingmar Relling, Sigurd Ressell, Fredrik A. Keyser, and Gerhard Berg. After graduating, Bongard went to work for two neighboring Oslo companies: The TREKK advertising agency, for whom he was a promoter, and the newly founded interior design magazine Bonytt, for whom he provided ex libris design and commercial illustration.
In 1947, Bongard began an eight-year tenure with established glass retailer Christiania Glasmagasin and its Jevanker-based sister company, Hadeland Glassworks—Norway’s oldest industrial factory. There he collaborated with master glassblower Johan Wilhelm Johansson on vases, glasses, decanters, and decorative objects that were embellished with vibrant color, air bubbles, and eccentric linework. Specific standouts include Bongard’s Utført Vase (ca. 1950s); K-1023 Vase (1953), which garnered a Silver Medal at the 1954 Triennale di Milano; and Hermann Wine Set (1954), designed for the Norwegian embassies, which won a Gold Medal at the same event.
From 1955 to 1960, Bongard took freelance design positions designing tableware for Figgjo, specialized in porcelain and, Polaris Fabrikker, specialized in stainless steel. In 1960, Bongard moved into an art director role at the Fredrikstad-based PLUS, for whom he, outside of broad managerial guidance, provided designs for ironwork, textiles, braided wooden bowls, and furniture in braided manila rope. His enameled-steel Conform Tray Table (1962) remains a cherished piece from this phase—its teak framing and general Jetsons-esque geometry emblematic of the midcentury Scandinavian aesthetic form.