This issue is completely dedicated to Finnish design. At first I thought Pavel Ulyanov’s accost would be much more appropriate here than mine, as he had contributed a lot to this issue’s publications, and hardly anybody else could talk over Finnish design so well. However, Pavel refused to, so this is me here.
Speaking of intenational style, its denomination already links the main feature of it — integrated space of ideas exists above all borders. German Bauhaus, De Stijl from Holland and Russian Vkhutemas were indissolubly associated with each other during the revolutionary rise and development of modernism. The new architecture reflected social changes in post-revolutionary Soviet Russia and Germany, which was having hard times after the defeat in WWI. Responding to social demand, both architecture and design sometimes immersed themselves into utopian conceptions. Also, such arbitrary reasons as low budget or unsatisfactory construction materials used to disturb the project realization.
Apparently, that was why the epoch dramatically emphasized (and probably even gave birth to) an issue called «visionary architecture». Along with a range of completed buildings considered world heritage assets, which have been safe and sound up to nowadays, there used to be a vast number of projects whose authors never saw their ideas come true. Meanwhile, seeing your embodied project is the greatest joy for any creative thinker! Finnish designers and architects were lucky to get this joy abundantly. I was wandering at the exhibition dedicated to Finnish architects and designers in the Hermitage thinking of how blissful they were! This is such a professional luck, to see your projects implemented and improving people’s lives in your country.
The authors of the display at Golden generation have managed to show consummation of a plan, which is the most important feature of Finnish design and achitecture. You look at an architectural drawing, a facade, a model — and then you see a photo of a completed building next to them. At different exhibitions I have seen lots of wonderful projects which were dramatically changed during the construction process, that’s why seeing a building, thoroughly put up according to its original plan, is quite a surprise!
Whichever Finnish project you consider — it’s completed, whichever object you pay attentin to — it’s in serial production! Even the absolutely crazy Futuro house by Matti Suuronen, a utopian thing without any chance to spring to life was brought into circulation and has survived up to nowadays in multiple copies.
The blessed land of design and architecture is fast beside! This is where students start working towards the result, interesting for future employers, in their first year at university. Manufacturers support core education and bring students’ projects into circulation. A designer is a respectable and prestigious job there. Launched into mass production successful designs allow their author not to worry about earning a living anymore, but just to enjoy life and profession. This is probably what designers’ paradise looks like for other countries where the Finnish level of this industry may only appear in daring paper dreams.
Once again, I want to thank greatly The State Hermitage in the person of Ksenia Malich, the curator of Golden generation, who embodied such a massive exhibition project, and the Institute of Finland in the name of Elena Veshnyakova, who conducted a parallel programme. Ksenia, Elena, you are the most!
Projector № 2(29) 2015
The new issue of Projector, dedicated to Finnish design from cover to cover, arrived from the printing office on New Year’s Eve. The editorial couldn’t remain indifferent to such a significant news occasion as the exhibition Golden generation. Modernism in Finnish architecture and design held in the Hermitage in winter 2015-16, so the cover of the magazine got decorated with two iconic objects: Futuro House by Matti Suuronen and the vase by Alvar Aalto — possibly, the most recognizable silhouettes in the history of Finnish design. Although the vase was designed by Aalto in the mid-30s, and Suuronen invented his Futuro in the late 60s, both objects still remain fresh and striving into the future, as well as many more ones, designed by the Finns.
The Project «Personification» is dedicated to the four deans of Finnish object design in the middle — first half of the XX century. They are: Alvar Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Yrjo Kukkapuro and Eero Aarnio. Unfortunately, it’s already impossible to have a word with Aalto and Tapiovaara, but Kukkapuro and Aarnio are wonderful hospitable people living in an open house way! I’ve interviewed both of them at their homes.
Alvar Aalto is indeed a heroic figure in the national history of Finland: the image of him interlinks with an ancient Greek hero, not yet a god, already not a human. He’s more of a way an epic hero and a state-forming character shaping national identity just as well as Kalevala. Alvar Aalto is the most famous national architect and designer from Finland, a personality responsible for its creative source. The front-page of the issue is, obviously, dedicated to him.
«World War II drew a line between radical modernists, eager to create an efficient «accomodation machine», and post-war designers, equipped with the latest technologies and propelling industrial design to the next level. The new generation considered design from a consumpting point of view and tended to resolve every possible issue of developing a new commercial product. Ilmari Tapiovaara became one of the most important figures of the time» — says Pavel Ulyanov.
Yrjo Kukkapuro, the forefather of Finnish design, who started his professional career back in the 1950s, received us in a UFO rather than a cottage, situated in a respectable part of Helsinki countryside. He constructed this house upon his own project as early as 1968. For over forty years he has lived and worked here with his wife. Nowadays this common space under an elaborately curved roof is full of objects designed by Yrjo, both mass-produced and those which remained single prorotypes. This is a real memorial house. In this issue: the interview with Yrjo Kuokkapuro!
All of you could possibly remember the episode of Men in black: during the trial at M.I.B. agency Will Smith’s character pulls a coffee table with a wild screech and sits down into a futuristic egg-shaped armchair. The film was released in the late 1990s, but the armchair had been designed by Eero Aarnio back in 1963, and it has remained a symbol of the future for over half a century. By the way, the exhibition of Eero Aarnio’s works, opening in April 2016, is going to become the event of the year for Designmuseo in Helsinki. Eero says about the armchair: «After that success I’ll never ever suffer from the lack of commissions!»
Two main poster designers in Finland — Pekka Loiri and Kari Piippo — represent graphic design in this issue. We have interviewed both of them. «At my exhibition in Bogota, someone asked: «Why do you have that much yellow in your works?» This is what I’d never thought of, but the response turned up by itself — we live in the north, and yellow is a colour of the Sun we never have enough. In any case, I like yellow. I have it in many works for no reason», — says Pekka Loiri. Pekka also told us about the relationship with clients, running a studio and having his own island in Eastern Finland.
Kari Piippo says: «A poster is the way to esucate and warn the mainstream audience, but it isn’t supposed to solve the problems arisen by the public. A poster only responds to what’s happening, in a laconic but dramatic manner. The most telling ecoposters are the ones which enable people to act. They illustrate the changes happening in the society at the moment, and at the same time reflect its future hopes and expectancies. Using succinct and vivid images, posters shape today’s reality, being the reflection of the time».
We continue the talk on object design with Pavel Ulyanov’s story about one of the items in his large collection — a switchblade Puukko, designed by Tapio Virkkala: «Puukko isn’t a melee weapon, not «samurai’s soul», but an efficient and handy tool to help northern people to survive under severe natural conditions. From an early age Finnish boys learnt to handle the knife: clean fish, draw a fowl, work in wood. A small knife with a short blade and an elongated handle which let to hold it in different ways fitted the purpose completely».
Now moving on to a couple of more items in Pavel Ulyanov’s collection — the veneer armchairs, now being exhibited in Concorde gallery. «In 2013, walking among antique dealers, fussing about arranging their exhibits for Helsinki Antique Salon, I spotted a pair of veneer armchairs piled up with rugs and lamps. They were so unusual, that curiosity forced my hand and made me the owner of the artifacts. We’ll try to find out where they come from…» — writes Pavel.
My friends and the partners of Projector — the colleagues from Artlight — present their own survey on the selection of works by Finnish designers. Read about designer lamps from Finland in the article «Finnlight» by Konstantin Tsepelev.
The project «Environment» is preceded by the words of Ksenia Malich, the curator of the exhibition Golden generation, who analyses main features of Finnish modernism: «The Finns have a proverb: «Consider for a week, but say it clearly». For Finland, the clerity, purity and austerity of early European modernism turned out to be not only a part of the revolutionary manifesto, as this happened in many other countries, but also an essentiality, a tribute to its construction tradition. This is most vivid on looking at the development of Finnish architecture of the 1920-s, before the language of «white functionalism» arose».
For this issue, I have also interviewed the people from K2S Architects — I believe, the smartest architectural bureau in Finland. Every time, walking in Helsinki, I thought of meeting the authors of Silence chapel in Kamppi and having a word with them, which finally came true! We met on the grounds of their exciting new object — the floating office of Arctia — the largest floating building in Finland.
Obviously, that would be strange not to mention Futuro House, having placed it onto the cover of the magazine. «It all started in 1965, when Matti Suuronen was commissioned to develop the Ski cabin — an alpine ski center. By 1968 a pilot design had appeared: a four-meter tall ellipsoidal module of eight meters in diameter, made of sixteen fiberglass panels. Each of them had a five-centimeter heat-insulation layer of expanded polystyrene. The construction involved sixteen ellipsoidal windows-viewports. This wasn’t an occasionally chosen shape — an ellipsoid is able to withstand a significant weight of snow. Its stream-lined form resists the gusts of the strong wind in the mountains. Cosmic Rush of the 1960s made the building look like a spaceship in some details — you «board» the house with an air stair. The polymer capsule rests on a four-bearing basement made of steel pipes in the manner of a science fiction UFO» — says Pavel Ulyanov.
To continue speaking of design and architecture, we «unveil» the project of Eco-design center in Karelia. «The aim of the center is to organize academic and exhibition projects in the area, extend international cooperation between Karelia, Nordic and West-European countries, implement eco-projects, energize the co-operatin between local manufacturers, and a lot more. The headquarters of Eco-design center is going to be a township, planned on the coast of a skerry on the lake Ladoga not far away from the village of Kurijoki. Also, designers are supposed to be received here as well as international design workshops held», — say the founders of the cente Anatoliy Snop and Boremir Baharev. Of course, the article appeared in the «Finnish» issue, as the link between Karelia and Finland will play a big part in the international activity of the center.
The project «Photography» features the works by one of the classicists of Finnish photo — Ismo Holtto. Pavel Ulyanov says about him: «Ismo Holtto has always been an exceptionally creative photographer, survived on grants, has already published five photalbums. In April 2015 in the Ateneum in Helsinki a personal retrospective exhibition of Ismo Holtto’s works between 1962 and 1971 was opened, which is the highest recognition by the country. Ismo stopped shooting in the 1980-s, and has mostly been working with his archive lately. Ismo Holtto doesn’t keep up with the pace of XXI century any more, so he is more comfortable at his own studio surrounded with vintage stuff which at least outwardly slows down the passage of time. Nowadays, Ismo peers at the world in the same manner as his characters in the photos do, looking at today back from the eternity».
We consider Mother box the most important student project which has met the eye of us. It has been developed by KELA, the state social insurance agency, the students of Aalto University and their mentor Marjatta Itkonen. Every resident of Finland who’s going to have a baby, gets this touching governmental present — a set of requires for the first months of the baby’s life, including clothes, baby care products and a lot more. This program, supporting young parents, has existed since 1937 and used to be unique for a long time. The students of Art and design faculty accepted the challenge to create a new style of the Mother box.
Finally, there is an interview with the artist Marjatta Tapiola taken by Olga Ryabukhina. «Tapiola is number one artist in Finland. Two years ago the Parliament bought the portrait of the President by Marjatta. She depicted him reading a book on Russian literature. The artist is sincerely interested in Russia: she deliberately got converted into Orthodox, being already an adult; she’s studying the language, reads Anna Ahmatova, listens to Gypsy romance and Stravinskiy. Marjatta first asserted herself in the 1970s with huge and surprisingly impulsive (for the Finnish art scene) canvases of conceptual expressionism. Marjatta’s over fifty and she’s extremely lively. Her gestures are sweepy, and her painting manner is still «heavy-calibered» with all those bulls, minotaurs and animal skulls. Marjatta lives in a house which dstes from the XVII century, has three dogs, a pond of carps, two workshops in the hangars, she cooks wonderfully and isn’t averse to drinking», — tells Olga, having come round to the artist’s house.
Traditionally, enjoy the reading and poring the magazine over! Тhe issue will be available at Issue.com for free as soon as the printed vesion has been sold out.