Love Icons at Designgalleriet

At Designgalleriet in Stockholm we made a love installation. Graphical design and glass designed by Straight Design Studio and with me as a curator. Here is the story of Love Icons.

The diverse LGBQTI-world is full of rainbows, unicorns, bears and otters. There are symbols everywhere. Even all the colours in the rainbow flag have meaning. But what if we updated things? Is this diverese world really fully represented?

One can of course reason about – why does everything need a symbol? Well, if there is symbol or a flag, then there is something to gather around. Harvey Milk asked designer Gilbert Baker to design a flag in 1977. The rainbow flag. As Milk said “flags are about proclaiming power”.

In March 2022 we sat down – Viktor Erlandsson, designer at Straight Design Studio and me. We talked about how to do this project and divided our roles. I made a list of areas needing a symbol and Viktor first made a symbol or pictogram, and then transfered these into glass.

The list of ten areas we wanted to give a symbol to were:

* Looking for friends – in a world where it is easy to find sex on various apps, how do you find someone to just be friends with? Play bridge?

* Throuples – more and more people want to live outside of the normative couple format. Maybe they need a symbol?

* Same sex couples with pet – everyone wants to feel like a family

* Old Queers – a symbol to show like a trophy for this who have fought for us

* Same, but different – some same sex couples look like twins, but some are proud of their partner being totally different (hight, colour, age, bodysize…)

* Curious straight – we all have been to that party where someone of the same sex starts flirting due to alcohol, and they really want to make out, but not come out. Very straight, but also very curious. Not bicurious.

  • * Friend to someone who came out – let’s say you have a friend who just came out and you want to celebrate and support that person. This is for you. Not for the outcomer but for you who support this.

* Gaymer – it’s all about representation. This is for a gamer who wants their monsters and heros to be a bit more queer.

  • * Sunday horny – some Sundays you wake up and you have a window of opportunity for about 20 minutes to solve this. This symbol is for you.

* Proud of your organisation – there is a lot of pinkwashing but some organisations are really working in a good way for these areas. Let’s say you work at a library in a suburb and you are very proud of their selection of books, and how they work on makeing it safe for LGBTQI, and their diversity programme. This is a symbol for you who want to endorse your workplace, not something your boss can force you to wear.

As you can see a lot of these topics are open for all sorts of sexual and gender identities. Even a proper straight person can feel “Sunday horny” or wear a symbol show you like your partner who are different or want to live in a throuple.

Viktor took my words and made them into symbols. Perhaps you recognise the same sex couple with a pet?

After we made the symbols we went to the glass hut of Stockholm Glas and had these symbols made into glass objects. The purpose was to keep the content of the symbol but not necessarily make it a direct translation to glass.

Like this:

The pictorgram for “old queer”. You can perhaps see the cane.

But as a glass object it is more a person been given a medal. Awarded and honoured.

All glass objects were photographed by Matilda Werngren. We avoided the over obvious rainbow colours in the glass objects but added it to these images.

Here symbol for Looking for friends (you see the magnifying glass??)

From left. Glass object for throuples, glass object for gaymer (the joystick) and Old Queer.

Friend to someone who just came out (the supporting thing)

From left. Curious straight (looking at something but with a barrier). And obviously same sex couple with a pet.

From left: Sunday horny. And the cocktail glass is “proud of my organisation”. The small glass balls supporting the glass…

Same but different. Like someone who has a different colour than yourself.

Pictures from the actual exhibition.


And finally – Viktor Erlandsson (designer) and me, Stefan Nilsson (curator)



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