Skip to main content

You are here

  • Gudrun Sjoden: A Colorful Universe
    Jun 05, 2018

ASI Opens Gudrun Sjödén—A Colourful Universe with First Look, July 26


Gudrun SjödénA Colourful Universe Celebrates Acclaimed Swedish Clothing Designer/Entrepreneur in an Exhibition Opening July 26 at the  American Swedish Institute

Gudrun SjödénA Colourful Universe opens Thursday, July 26 at ASI with a Press Preview at 10:30 a.m. The public First Look Preview Party at 7 p.m.  features visiting artist Gudrun Sjödén and her team, a fashion show with a live choir and an installation of her designs and materials.

MINNEAPOLIS—Gudrun SjödénA Colourful Universe celebrates Gudrun Sjödén, the renowned Swedish textile designer and global entrepreneurial force, in a visually striking new exhibition at the American Swedish Institute (ASI), on view July 27 – October 28, 2018. The installation examines her illustrious career of through original watercolors, materials from the artist’s archives and catalogs, displays of her textiles and boldly feminine apparel collections and a pop-up shop of her clothing. This national U.S. exhibition premiere opens in preview with the First Look party at 7 p.m., Thursday, July 26, showcasing a visit by Gudrun with an outdoor fashion show accompanied by live music by the Anonymous Choir. The American Swedish Institute and its historic Turnblad Mansion are located at 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis. For more details, visit or call 612-871-4907.

Gudrun’s vibrant and female-focused designs are inspired by nature and Swedish folk and global motifs. Gudrun founded her company four decades ago and remains an active, hands-on leader whose eco-conscious processes and philosophies have earned her a worldwide network of fans, inspiring a forum for inspiration, knowledge and positive thinking.  Among her many honors, Gudrun received a 2007 Litteris et Artibus Medal from the King of Sweden and the 2018 “Best International Growth” award from EY/Entrepreneur Of The Year. “I am a watercolour artist and entrepreneur,” she writes, “whose business idea is to make colourful clothes and home textiles in natural materials with an emphasis on Scandinavian design. The fashion is designed to be functional and versatile so it can be mixed and matched in both the short and long term in looks to suit women of all ages, shapes and sizes.”

Gudrun Sjödén A Colourful Universe is a first-time collaboration between ASI and Gudrun Sjödén Design, and co-curated with acclaimed Gudrun designer Wanja Djanaieff. It continues the ASI’s 2018 year of The Handmade, focusing on master makers, their work and the global movements they have inspired, opening a window to Sweden’s intimate connection to the handmade form and its international impact.

Gudrun was born in Östhammer and grew up in the 1940s and ‘50s on a farm estate near the scenic mill city of Skebobruk, in the middle of Sweden.  She was part of a family with five siblings where children were expected to work; to get firewood, rack hay and fetch eggs. Handcrafts, such as knitting, weaving or carving, were a part of life. Gudrun was especially attracted to drawing, later studying Swedish textile and art history at the influential Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. She says that experience shaped her as an entrepreneur and remains a part of her inspiration.

“Where do I get all my ideas and inspiration? Where does the creativity flow from? For me, it is, in a way, a constant stream of creativity stemming from nature, colour, the way people communicate and live their lives, historical tradition and development, and different countries and cultures…my brain just absorbs and takes everything in, files it away in little compartments, spins it around and sorts things out subconsciously. Then it’s time to sit down and create a new collection...,” states Gudrun on her website.

Bruce Karstadt,  ASI President/CEO, commented, “This is a unique opportunity for the American Swedish Institute to continue its exploration of The Handmade by partnering with one of Scandinavia’s most respected artists and entrepreneurs. 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.”

Artist Overview

Gudrun Sjödén is the Chief Designer and CEO of Gudrun Sjödén Group AB, a global, female-run company established in Sweden in 1976, which now has customers in more than 70 countries who buy clothing and home textiles online, from catalogues and in stores in markets including Germany, Scandinavia, the U.S., and the U.K. Gudrun is acclaimed as an innovative and tenacious Swedish textile designer and entrepreneurial force who has been honored with exhibitions at the cultural heritage museum Kulturen i Lund, Sweden, with “40 Years of Colour and Design” at the Stockholm House of Culture and City Theatre, and at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London. Her many honors include the Swedish Businesswoman of the Year award in 1993 and Entrepreneur of the Year, Stockholm, in 2004. She received a 2007 Litteris et Artibus Medal from the King of Sweden and ELLE Sweden’s Sustainability Award in 2012. She was named Woman Professional of the Year by Business and Professional Women Sweden in 2016, earned the American Swedish Historical Museums’ Outstanding Achievement Award, as well as the 2018 “Best International Growth” award from EY/Entrepreneur Of The Year. Gudrun was born in 1941 during World War II, and grew up on a farm estate where her family relied on hard work, innovation and creativity.  At an early age, she attended Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, where she parlayed her experience into a job with designer Ivar Wahl and worked as a fashion journalist. She opened her first store in Stockholm in 1976 and continues to garner worldwide sales as one of Scandinavia’s most successful and distinctive designers.


VIP Meet the Maker – Join Gudrun Sjödén on Hopper Terrace!

Thursday, July 26, 5 – 6:30 p.m., $75

Get a first look before the First Look, by joining in this special welcome to meet the maker Gudrun Sjödén and her creative team. Sip sparkling wine and taste festive bites provided by FIKA, while mingling with Gudrun on ASI’s lovely outdoor terrace, complete with gorgeous views of the Turnblad Mansion. Enjoy special access to the new exhibition, even before the general public enters. After this unique opportunity, please stay to join in the rest of the opening night activities. Limited availability.

First Look Opening Gudrun Sjödén A Colourful Universe
Thursday, July 26, Doors 6:30 p.m., event 7 – 10 p.m.

$15 ASI members / $20 non-members

Gudrun Sjödén A Colourful Universe opening night preview party offers a “First Look” at this new exhibition and a chance to meet the visiting fashion designer, members of her team and moderator/journalist Sofia Hedstrom. During a fashion show organized by local creative innovator Sarah Edwards with a live choir, get a preview of Gudrun’s fall clothing collection inspired by the forest and enjoy music on the outdoor stage. FIKA café will offer a special party menu and specialty cocktails available for purchase.

  • Fashion show with a live choir
  • Join members of Gudrun’s team in the galleries to hear them talk about her work.
  • Sample FIKA’s food and beverages, Indeed Brewing beer and Tiny Footprint Coffee

Fika (Coffee and Pastries) with Gudrun: Women & Entrepreneurial Values

Friday, July 27, 10 a.m.

$25 includes coffee and pastries

ASI invites local women business owners, creative professionals and those with an entrepreneurial spirit to join Gudrun, members of her creative team and moderator/journalist Sofia Hedstrom for a fika, a Swedish tradition of conversation, coffee and pastries, to gain insights into how she grew from a freelance designer to leading a worldwide company that generates 800 billion Swedish kronor a year. For more than 40 years, Gudrun Sjödén has been honing her craft and has become a role model for women everywhere who follow their own path and lead colorful lives.

Designer-Led Tours with the Artist Team - Gudrun SjödénA Colourful Universe

Saturday, July 28, Two, one-hour tours: 11 a.m & 2 p.m.

$20 ASI members / $25 non-members. 30 person capacity

Stroll through the Gudrun Sjöden—A Colourful Universe exhibition with members of the Gudrun Sjödén creative team. Meet the innovative forces behind the Swedish eco-conscious fashion label and gain insights into how the exhibition was created and Gudrun’s creative practice.

A Day in the Turnblad Mansion with Members of Gudrun Sjödén Team

Sunday, July 29, 12-1:30 p.m. & 3-4:30 p.m.

Included in museum admission.

Meet the people behind the internationally acclaimed fashion and textile company Gudrun Sjödén. Members of Gudrun’s creative team will be in the ASI galleries to answer questions about the company or the exhibition.

PRESS ROOM: For Images and additional information.

Related activities will continue throughout the exhibition. For more information, visit or call 612-871-4907.

Media Contact: Karen R. Nelson,, 612-870-3373

THE AMERICAN SWEDISH INSTITUTE is a museum and cultural center that is a gathering place for all people to share experiences around themes of culture, migration, the environment and the arts, informed by enduring ties to Sweden.  The ASI is located at 2600 Park Avenue, Minneapolis, 55418.  The Wall Street Journal called ASI “[a] model of how a small institution can draw visitors through exciting programming.” For more information, visit or call 612-871-4907.

ASI MUSEUM HOURS:  Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Wednesday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sunday, Noon–5 p.m.; closed Monday.

Museum Admission: $10 adults, $7 ages 62 +, $5  ages 6–18 and full-time students with ID. Free for ASI members and kids ages 5 and under.                            

FIKA, ASI’s award winning café, is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday:  8:30 a.m. –5 p.m. (full menu 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.); Wednesday, 8:30 a.m.–8 p.m.  (full menu 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. ) Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. (full menu 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.)

The ASI MUSEUM STORE is open Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 10 a.m. –5 p.m., Wednesday 10 a.m. –8 p.m.  Sunday,  Noon-5 p.m.


Major support for Gudrun Sjoden: A Colorful Universe is provided by the Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, Karin Larson, Laurie Jacobi and Cotty Lowry, Terri Carlson, and a grant from the Swedish Council of America. Exhibition Media Partner is the Star Tribune. Hospitality Sponsors include the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot.

Star Tribune logo

Star Tribune logo
Media Sponsor - Star Tribune

Minnesota artist activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund, and a grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation Minnesota.

share this