Lars Tunbjörk’s Funny Photos of Offices and Suburbia

Slate's Culture Blog
Nov. 2 2011 4:40 PM

Oh Snap!: Lars Tunbjörk’s Funny Photos of Offices and Suburbia

This is Christmas:


And this is a New York lawyer’s office:


At least, that’s Christmas and a lawyer’s office through the eyes of Lars Tunbjörk, who has an unusual perspective on the world—a perspective currently on display at the Amador Gallery in New York. The exhibit features work from the Swedish photographer’s three best-known photo books, Country Beside Itself, Home, and Office. The photos from those collections have been shown all across the world, but rarely in the United States. While the newest of these photos are now more than ten years old, they are as delightfully weird and funny as ever.


I got Tunbjörk on the phone in Stockholm while he was feeding his kids. By now, the man has spent far more time talking about offices than working in them: Aside from his early stints as a newspaper photographer, he’s rarely been tied to one. And though his photographs are still amusing for those of us stuck in fluorescent-lit cubicles, he doesn’t particularly like them anymore.

“Sometimes I think my old photos are a bit too anecdotal. You change the way you look at things over the years,” he says.

He’s less interested in people these days and more interested in landscapes and “formal things,” as he calls them. His most recent book is called Vinter, and it depicts the darkest, coldest time of the year in Scandinavia, full of canine desperation ...


and dirty snow:


Though the humor is darker and the subjects are piles of snow rather than copy paper, Tunbjörk continues to find humor amid dullness, just as he did when wandering around offices and suburban developments in the ’80s and ’90s.

Eventually, Tunbjörk will tire of somber landscapes, just as he did of offices and suburbia. Then, he says, “I will come back to people.”

Oh Snap! is Brow Beat’s weekly photo feature. Have you spotted a project that’s worth profiling? Pitch to


The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

Should the United States Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Violence?

The Apple Watch Will Make Everyone Around You Just a Little Worse Off

This Was the First Object Ever Designed

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 


How the Apple Watch Will Annoy Us

A glowing screen attached to someone else’s wrist is shinier than all but the blingiest jewels.


A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now …

The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.

Is Everyone Going to Declare Independence if Scotland Does It? 

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Trending News Channel
Sept. 12 2014 11:26 AM Identical Twins Aren’t Really Identical
  News & Politics
Sept. 14 2014 2:37 PM When Abuse Is Not Abuse Don’t expect Adrian Peterson to go to prison. In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 
Sept. 12 2014 5:54 PM Olive Garden Has Been Committing a Culinary Crime Against Humanity
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 13 2014 8:38 AM “You’re More Than Just a Number” Goucher College goes transcript-free in admissions.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 12 2014 4:05 PM Life as an NFL Wife: “He's the Star. Keep Him Happy.”
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 12 2014 5:55 PM “Do You Know What Porn Is?” Conversations with Dahlia Lithwick’s 11-year-old son.
Sept. 14 2014 11:44 PM A Little Bit Softer Now, a Little Bit Softer Now … The sad, gradual decline of the fade-out in popular music.
Future Tense
Sept. 12 2014 3:53 PM We Need to Pass Legislation on Artificial Intelligence Early and Often
  Health & Science
New Scientist
Sept. 14 2014 8:38 AM Scientific Misconduct Should Be a Crime It’s as bad as fraud or theft, only potentially more dangerous.
Sports Nut
Sept. 12 2014 4:36 PM “There’s No Tolerance for That” Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh say they don’t abide domestic abuse. So why do the Seahawks and 49ers have a combined six players accused of violence against women?