Kati Tuominen-Niittylä
Finnish, born 1947
Inverno II, from the Talvi (Winter) series, 2010
Slip-glazed stoneware
17 1/2 x 17 1/8 x 10 1/8 in. (44.5 x 43.5 x 25.7 cm)
Minneapolis Institute of Art, Gift of funds from Gayle Fuguitt and Tom Veitch and the Decorative Arts Miscellaneous Purchase Fund 2013.61
Photo: Image courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Art

Artful Living

Finland is famous for the high quality, style, and functionality of its objects made for the home, as well as the creative resourcefulness of its designers. Note the craftsmanship in the ceramic vessel Inverno II by Kati Tuominen-Niittylä, the recyclability of the Kenno cardboard furniture by Heikki Ruoho, and the durability of the leather-covered HK 002 chair by Harri Koskinen. Nature themes and natural materials are prevalent, from the wood used in the dome-shaped Octo 4240 lamp to Maija Louekari’s Kaiku fabric featuring birch trees, common in Finland’s forests.

Eero Rislakki and Erkki Rahikainen (designer of 1965 original model) Finnish, born 1924
Erkki Rahikainen (engineer of original model), Finnish
Markku Autero (designer of 2000 model), Finnish
Jopo bicycle, 2000 (update of 1965 design)
H. (frame) 17 3/4 in. (45 cm); wheel diam. 24 in. (61 cm) Metal, rubber
Manufacturer: Helkama Velox, Hanko, Finland, 1905-present Courtesy of Helkama Velox
Photo: © Helkama Velox Oy

Relax, Recharge, Reflect

Rest and recreation are central to Finnish life, facilitated by summer homes, sports, and places for everyday meditation and rejuvenation, such as home saunas. Juhani Pallasmaa’s secluded House of Silence and the micro-vacation house by Verstas Architects help people connect more closely with nature, while the Fiskars X 25 Splitting Axe and Rapala fishing lures are not just recreational standbys but important Finnish design exports.

Ivana Helsinki, Helsinki (Paola Suhonen) Velvet Lake collection dress, 2011–12 Screen-printed cotton
L. 63 x W. 40 3/16 in. (160 cm x 102 cm) Courtesy of Ivana Helsinki
Photo by Ivana Helsinki

Design and the Body

Art jewelry and fashion embody key elements of Finnish identity. Tarja Tuupanen’s white opal brooch and Terhi Tolvanen’s Printemps necklace of wood and unpolished quartz emphasize the beauty of raw natural materials. Marita Huurinainen’s Emo dress and Ivana Helsinki’s feathery Velvet Lake dress are inspired by nature and mythology.

K2S Architects, Helsinki (Kimmo Lintula, Niko Sirola, and Mikko Summanen)
Kamppi Chapel of Silence, Helsinki, 2008–12
Photo: Photographer Marko Huttunen

The City Redefined

Finns are rejuvenating urban life with an eye toward ecology and the greater good, weaving new architecture into the historic fabric of cities, creating public saunas, promoting alternative transportation, and taking advantage of natural resources in the development of new structures—without exploiting them. Pelago’s Brooklyn bicycle and the sensitively designed Saaristokatu (Archipelago Avenue) in Kuopio, for instance, respect nature while encouraging walking, biking, and public transportation.

Esa Vesmanen
Finnish, born 1965
Balance chair, 2009
UPM Grada® thermoformable wood panel, painted steel, sound pillow
46 7/16 x 22 7/16 x 63 in. (118 x 57 x 160 cm)
Manufacturer: Pure Design, Helsinki, 2004–present
Courtesy of Pure Design
Photographer: Ahti Kaukoniemi

New Design Realities

Finnish designers are known for their innovations in technology, cuisine, graphic design, and systems design. Rovio’s Angry Birds has become a major export in game design and a catalyst for further Finnish game development. Seungho Lee’s Beef Finland project offers a strategically designed approach to sustainable food production. Esa Vesmanen’s Balance chair showcases an ecologically friendly way to lounge and listen.