Helsinki Design Week: part one

Smart and simple, a smoke alarm by Pino

Recently I had the pleasure of visiting Helsinki during Helsinki Design Week . The city is also host to the 2012 World Design Capital so there was plenty to see and do. My visit was hosted by the Helsinki Design Week (HDW) and Dutch Design Week and was a chance to bring together design festival directors and managers from around the world. Discussions centred on potential collaborations and projects as well as the generous sharing of knowledge and experience around our respective design festivals. Warm thanks must go our hosts Kari Korkman (HDW) and Hans Robertus (Dutch Design Week)  as well as the HDW team Ulla Paasikallio and Henna Kokko who organised an exciting program of events including visits to design exhibitions, guided tours, talks, workshops and events. Here are some highlights from my trip:

Customs House, HDW 2012

Opening night of Helsinki Design Week at Old Customs House – this historic venue became the hub for the duration of Helsinki Design Week. At the completion of the festivities the organising team will be making this their new permanent home. Not only is it close to the harbour but the vast spaces and high ceilings make it an ideal venue for exhibitions and events.

Tutu lamp, spook chair, by Iskos, HDW 2012
Tutu lamp and Spook chair, both by Iskos, Berlin. These products are produced by thermo pressing polymer fibre (PET felt mat) and does not require the use of any resins, glues or additional materials such as screws or reinforcements. PET is 100% recyclable material made using soft drink bottles. Featured in ‘Above: The International Design Exhibition’ at Old Customs House, Helsinki.

The metal Plopp stool designed by Oskar Zieta for Hay

The metal Plopp stool designed by Polish designer Oskar Zieta for Danish furniture brand Hay. Part of the Top 100 exhibition co-curated by Helsinki Design Week and Dutch Design Week. The stool is made from hydro-formed metal; two sheets of metal are welded together following the outline of the stool, which is then filled with fluid under pressure. The legs are then bent into place which gives it the look of inflatable furniture.

Imagination PlaygroundModular play equipment designed by American company Imagination Playground.

Imagination playground

I really loved watching children engage with this innovative children’s play equipment. The kit contained several different components which could easily be joined to build shapes and structures.

Everyday Discoveries , HDW 2012

The leaning shelf of Helsinki – my favourite shelf at the Everyday Discoveries exhibition – making the best use of straight and crooked lines to create a very practical and beautiful shelving unit.

Everyday Discoveries Exhibition, HDW 2012

Using inexpensive materials and re-purposing packing boxes as outdoor café seating at the Everyday Discoveries exhibition – just the spot to enjoy a café latte and a delicious blueberry cookie.

The Everyday Discoveries Exhibition uses brightly painted shipping containers as mini displays and exhibitions. The colours were so appealing and looked great against the stark industrial landscape of the power plant next door. The edible plant installation was created by Wayward Plants an award winning London-based collective, in collaboration with Dodo a Helsinki-based environmental organisation. The installation is inspired by roller coasters and trams and attempts to map a journey of plants and their stories.

Everyday Discoveries Exhibition, HDW 2012

Shipping container interior design , HDW 2012

The shipping container theme continues in the internal display structures. In the background you can see a large dining installation displaying various table settings, seating and other dining-themed objects.

Retro plywood case, Lithuanian display, HDW 2012
What’s not to love about a curved plywood suitcase – apparently this was a common object to be found in any Lithuanian household in the 50s. The Lithuanian display was based around three concepts: Soviet era design, present time design and future design.

Pen constructed from paper by Tauras Stalnionis, HDW 2012

Loved this smart hand-made pen constructed from a scrap of A4 paper. Imagine the potential in using recycled paper, posters and even old books. Designed by Tauras Stalnionis, a Lithuanian designer currently working in The Netherlands. He’s worth looking up with designs ranging from the divine to the bizarre such as lavender scented sausage soap.

Marimekko Stall at Design Market, HDW 2012
Marimekko stall at the Design Market. Lots of shoppers scrambling for a Marimekko fabric bargain. Clever aspect of the Design Market is that it also includes a bunch of high end brands getting rid of surplus stock – to the delight of your average bargain hunter. The Marimekko store girls always look so smart in their signature prints and stripes.

Jumpsuits by Jumpin shop, HDW 2012
Pretty exciting to see a shop which specialised in jumpsuits although I couldn’t decide whether this Norwegian brand was good or bad. In the end I decided that it’s so bad it’s good. Either way, at least these jumpsuits were cool and sporty – as long as they are worn by the young and jaunty! Turns out that Jumpin was founded by three friends who wanted to design the perfect thing to wear after a long day snowboarding in the mountains of Norway.

Toy shop wprkshop by Anima Boutique & Girls of Kalasatama, HDW 2012
Back at the Helsinki design hub at Old Customs House, parents and kids get to work with expert sewers to create their own customised soft toys from scraps. Toy workshop by Anima Boutique and Girls of Kalasatama.

Dublin Design, HDW 2012

Helsinki Tagged is a project by the Dublin Design Collective. Various locations dotted around city are tagged and each tag contains an individual story or reminiscence. The project looks to enriching everyday journeys through people’s memories and observations as well as sharing new insights and meanings about the city.

All photography by Lily Katakouzinos.