At the centre of the guest country programme is the exhibition Wild at Heart – A Collection of Modern Finnish Design and Art curated by young designer Tero Kuitunen, that offers its viewers a look into the protean world of contemporary Finnish design.
Finnish design is known abroad for its high quality and distinct silhouettes. Often, the design pieces that come to mind are somewhat subdued with clean lines and natural colours. There is also often an egalitarian side to them as Finns consider the ability to address societal problems and offer solutions to them a hallmark of good design. However, there is more to Finnish design than that. The name Wild at Heart stems from this lesser known side of Finnish design and culture: behind its often modest and practical front there is a wild sense of humour and passion to be found and enjoyed. The exhibition allows its viewers to dive off into the depths of Finnish contemporary design and see what is happening right now.
“I especially want to highlight how multifaceted Finnish design is. I think we are currently living in a design Renaissance, where people move more freely between different creative territories”, says curator Tero Kuitunen.
Eleven designers have been selected to show some of their works on the three stages. What the chosen creators have in common is that they move boldly in the intersection of art and design and that they work fearlessly with wild hearts and open minds. The Raw Beauty stage focuses on material and strong visual language. The young master carpenter Antrei Hartikainen’s pieces are both functional products and pure works of art as well as a modern ode to craftsmanship. Photographer and visual artist Sofia Okkonen explores how femininity is performed in her own distinct visual language while Tero Kuitunen works with the concept of touch and how different materials, especially ceramics and clay, invite touching. Klaus Haapaniemi’s magical world is filled to its brim with folklore references and his painstakingly detailed illustrations grace both glossy china and rich textiles.
The Social Impact stage offers a closer look at how design influences society. Milla Vaahtera breathes new life into glass blowing and Tuuli-Tytti Koivula’s clothing collection deals with plastic waste and ways to reuse and repurpose the material. The company Ragmate was born out of its founder’s wish to employ and empower Syrian refugee women in Turkey and the rugs they produce are the exciting results of cultural exchange and artisan know-how.
Playfulness and humour are woven into every aspect of the exhibition, but it is especially pronounced on the stage of Wild Humour. Eero Arnio is one of the most important designers in Finland and over the years his works have been characterised by their originality and conceptual bravery. The rich and colourful design language of Teemu Salonen’s design-sculpture hybrids contains multitudes: it is both gaudy, glamorous and cultivated, while COMPANY’s Aamu Song and Johan Olin celebrate craftsmen and women all over the world in their designs, combining a strong appreciation for tradition, timelessness and the joy of making.
After Vienna Design Week, the exhibition will tour Budapest, Stockholm and Tokyo in cooperation with the local Finnish Cultural Institutes.
Guest country events are organised in cooperation with Vienna Design Week and other local partners. The Finnish partners are the Finnish Institute in Germany, Business Finland, the Finnish Embassy in Vienna and Visit Finland.
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