Hotel Al Rasheed and Orrefors – a tale of an amazing hotel and spectacular chandeliers

During Sommarutställning Pukeberg 2022, (Re-)learning the archive, in collaboration with the research project Design history in other geographies, shows the exhibition Hotel Al Rasheed and Orrefors – a tale of an amazing hotel and spectacular chandeliers. The exhibition is open 18 / 6-6 / 8, every day 11-17 (closed midsummer weekend).

Photo: Jan Olsson/Skanska

In this exhibition we want to highlight a piece of unwritten Swedish-Iraqi history of design – a story of design of the highest quality, of world politics and war.

The seventh summit of the Non-Aligned Movement was planned to take place in Baghdad in 1982. It was an important meeting where delegates from the global South were to discuss critical common questions. A meeting of this calibre needed a setting, a premise, that corresponded to the dignity of the event. The assignment to carry out the construction went to Skanska in Kalmar in 1978. The Danish architect Ole Helweg was behind the building design and the interiors were mainly delivered by Swedish companies, many of them from Småland. No expenses were spared in giving the meeting its material setting.

We show two films in the exhibition. In Sverige och byggexporten – Al Rasheed i Bagdad (Sweden and construction export – Al Rasheed in Baghdad) (14 min) Skanska itself tells the story of the construction. Bagdadkristallerna – Berättelsen om Orrefors och ett sagolikt hotell  (The Bagdad Crystals – A Story about Orrefors Glassworks and a Magnificent Hotel) (24 min) by thejournalist Agneta Gustavsson and the film maker Rolf Magnusson is about Orrefors, the chandeliers and all the people who worked on the order.

This tells the story from Småland, about how Orrefors created the spectacular chandeliers that were ordered for the hotel. Orrefors were commissioned because only they could produce the quality expected by the customer. The order was of such magnitude that it helped save the glassworks economically in the early 1980s. In the exhibition you can see sketches of the crystals and some of the furniture made for Hotel Al Rasheed.

The Non-Aligned Movement was influential. It organised many states in the global South who wanted to act independently from the two ideological blocks of the Cold War and was prominent at the time. The summit never materialised, however. In 1982 Iraq was at war with Iran who shelled the area close to the hotel to manifest the impossibility of holding a meeting there. The amazing hotel was left standing and would continue to be in the crossfire of world politics.

If you or anyone you know were part in creating this amazing hotel, please get in touch with us. Contact Christina Zetterlund at or (+46)76–7953023. If you do not have time to see both films during your visit, they are also available on our website

The exhibition is made in collaboration with Designarkivet’s project (Re-)learning the archive, which is supported with grants from The Swedish Arts Council and Kalmar County Council and the research project Design history in other geographies at Linneaus University, which is funded by the National Heritage board.


(Re-)learning the Archive

is a three-year long development project run by Designarkivet in Pukeberg with support from the Swedish Arts Council and Region Kalmar län (Kalmar County Council).

Christina Zetterlund
Project Manager

Maija Zetterlund
Project Coordinator  

In collaboration with

Virserums konsthall
Linnaeus University
Kalmar Konstmuseum

Designer in residence:
Evelina Mohei
Design and webb:
Mika Kastner Johnson

With support from 

Region kalmar läns logotyp
Kulturrådets logotyp