Helsinki Design Week: part two

Simple yet effective! by Sebastian Errazuriz

Today DHub continues with Lily Katakouzinos’ travel diary about Helsinki’s Design Week 2012 where she experienced a range of design options, innovations, new trends and design classics.

Crochet police car by Kaija Papu

At the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma this life-size crocheted police car by Finnish aritst Kaija Papu, is part of the Camouflage: Visual Art and Design in Disguise exhibition. Kaija works with comics, video, music, photography and drawing as well as large scale knit graffiti projects. It was also at the Art Kiasma where Simple yet effective! by Chillian artist Sebastian Errazuriz (feature image) was located.

Riitta Ikonen

Riitta Ikonen explores climate change

At the heart of this seemingly playful image is a more serious message. This project by Finnish artist, Riitta Ikonen, also part of the Camouflage: Visual Art and Design in Disguise exhibition, is part of a series of photographs by Anni Koponen that explore the effects of global warming which threatens to leave Finland with reduced snowfalls each Christmas.

Istallation, Tomas Saraceno

Istallation, Tomas Saraceno studies spider webs and design

Inspiration comes from many sources. This stunning installation is by one one of the most exciting artists working today, Tomas Saraceno. Saraceno is heavily influenced by technology, space research and social theory. For this work, Saraceno studied spiders and their webs. Various parts of the exhibition included live spiders and their miniature web constructions.

Alvar Aalto, Kaj Lorosblom and Rafaela Seppala collection

Alvar Aalto, Kaj Lorosblom and Rafaela Seppala collection

A highlight of my trip to Helsinki was a dinner hosted by Kaj Lorsblom and Rafaela Seppala. The couple generously invited 100 plus guests to their home, a treasure trove of works by some of the most important Finnish and international designers and artists of our times. This astounding private collection includes works by heroes of Finnish Design such as Eliel Saarinen, Tapio Wirkkala, Gunnel Nyman, Paavo Tynell, Alvar Aalto, Oiva Toikka and Harri Koskinene alongside works by Andy Warhol, Roy Litchtenstein, Damien Hirst and Keith Haring to name but a few. Above is a collection of early Alvar Aalto pieces. Here I also found this early red Alvar Alto table (below), which I believe is a prototype made as a student (the lamp will need a bit of research I’m afraid).

Alvar Aalto table and lamp, Lorsblom and Seppala collection

Alvar Aalto table and lamp, Lorsblom and Seppala collection

In Kaj Lorsblom and Rafaela Seppala’s collection. I also spied a stunning and very rare Alvar Aalto wardrobe, a piece I feel could easily be reinstated today. Another can be found at the Finnish Design Museum.

Alvar Aalto wardrobe, Lorsblom and Seppala collection

Alvar Aalto wardrobe, Lorsblom and Seppala collection

Director of Dutch Design Week, Hans Robertus, inserts himself (pictured below) into an artwork in the video text room at the gallery of Kaj Lorsblom and Rafaela Seppala.

Hans Robertus in Lorsblom and Seppala Video Room

Hans Robertus in Lorsblom and Seppala Video Room

The World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 Pavilion designed by the Aalto University’s Wood Program, showcased Finnish sustainable wood architecture.

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 Pavailion

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 Pavailion

The architecture is based on the winning design of student Pyry-Pekka Kantonen selected in the spring of 2011. The Pavilion was built by World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 in collaboration with Aalto University, the Museum of Finnish Architecture, the Design Museum and UPM and was home to furniture constructed from pallets and recycled wood as well as a lively program of events including talks, workshops, a café and pop up shop coordinated by Demos Helsinki.

Finnish Design Museum, Helsinki

Finnish Design Museum, Helsinki

I really loved this idea of including some interpretive material on the chair itself. This chair was in the hallway of the Finnish Design Museum in Helsinki.

Large scale LEGGO city installation

Large scale LEGGO city installation

This large scale LEGGO city installation was part of the LEGGO workshops on offer at the Cable Factory, with the Helsinki Design Week theme in mind – co-creating. Here visitors, young and old, had access to an astounding array of pieces from which to design and build their cityscapes. The level of activity was intense and once started, it was difficult to tear both the ‘little kids’ and the ‘big kids’ away from this incredibly engaging activity.

Coffins for stillborns by Brigitte Coremans

Coffins for stillborns by Brigitte Coremans

This was one of the more macabre and bitter sweet design products I saw in Helsinki. They are a series of coffins for stillborns and each size corresponds with the various ages of an unborn baby. As every stillborn over the age of 24 weeks receives an official burial and registration, this was a way of honouring the life of a foetus or embryo younger than 24 weeks and gives parents the chance to say goodbye. Designed by Brigitte Coremans, the coffins are made of biodegradable materials which will break down within a few months. As this happens they will fertilise the surrounding patch of grass which will subtly mark the area for a few months longer. A poignant reminder that design is often called upon to find solutions for all manner of everyday human issues.

Cable Factory drink mixing workshop

Cable Factory drink mixing workshop

The Co-Creating theme of Helsinki Design Week was pushed to the max as Cable Factory allowed visitors to design their own drink. With the help of cocktail experts and an array of delicious fruits, fresh herbs, mixers and spirits, you could make virtually any kind of cocktail to your taste and at what seemed any strength! Here Olwen Moseley from Cardiff Design Festival has a go at mixing a unique drink.

Hotel Vaacuna completed 952

Hotel Vaacuna completed 1952

Another little known treasure shared by our lovely colleague Sanna Gebeyehu from Stockholm Design and Furniture Fair is the heritage listed Hotel Vaacuna in the centre of town. The attention to detail in this hotel must be seen to be believed. This is the reception area complete with high back chairs where business people can make calls in majestic comfort. The hotel completed in 1952 is protected by the National board of Antiquities and is an amazing showcase of Finnish design traditions.

View from the restaurant, Hotel Vaacuna

View from the restaurant, Hotel Vaacuna

The wonderful view from the Hotel Vaacuna restaurant onto the railway station in the centre of town.

Free bikes for Hotel guests in Helsinki

Free bikes for Hotel guests in Helsinki

And what better way to travel in Helsinki than by bike, it’s dead easy. Bikes are offered to guests of most hotels, no helmet, no insurance, no forms, no risk assessment required! Just unlock and off you go. Unheard of in risk-averse Australia!

Heka Clothes rack by Heidi Siitonen, Habitare Furniture Fair

Heka Clothes rack by Heidi Siitonen, Habitare Furniture Fair

Haka clothes rack designed by Heidi Siitonen. Haka is a compact and tidy clothes rack for small homes or offices. Due to its folding hooks it can be transported in a cardboard tube. On display as part of the Protoshop: Habitare Ahead Display (part of the Habitare Furniture Fair),which allows designers and companies to test new products and get industry and user feedback.

Amidst the design objects, installations and exhibitions that were a part of the Helsinki Design Week was also the splendour of the nature, evidence of which I found within the bounds of the city.

Market, Helsinki Harbour

Market, Helsinki Harbour

I was in love with the wild flowers here. A flower you don’t see very often in Australia is the beautiful Heather. A flower seller at the market at Helsinki Harbour stocked a stunning range in pink and white.

Mushroom stall at the Helsinki Harbour market

Mushroom stall at the Helsinki Harbour market

And as splendid was the array of in-season mushrooms available from this part of the world - truly mouth watering!

All photography by Lily Katakouzinos.