Phoning Home

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By Aaron Britt
I've been in Norway for the last week, and though I've seen all sorts of top drawer design, from the clever houses by Jarmund Vigsnæs to the glacial Oslo Opera House by Scandinavian-firm-of-the-moment Snohetta to the shockingly good cafeteria at the Trondheim airport, I must confess that the most exciting design I've seen, in part due to just how unassuming it is, is the standard Norwegian phone booth.

A refinement of the iconic British version—a bulbous, heavily-latticed box—the Norwegian phone booth is possessed of simple lines, clear type at once contemporary and anachronistic, and an elegant shade of red. Its tiny roof and slight eaves make it feel like a small building, one looking at once to the Viennese Jugendstil and a zippy sports car; this clear, unfussy design has no shortage of understated panache.

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