It all started with a red brooch
Born in the sleepy coastal town of Kotka, Finnish designer and curator Tero Kuitunen is having a moment. The Helsinki-based creative is constantly travelling back and forth it seems, curating different concepts for his clients, whether it might be a branding concept or an exhibition. His next big project is an exhibition called “Wild at Heart”, which is the guest country exhibition during Vienna Design Week this autumn where Finland is the guest country. We sat down with Tero and had a chat about Miss Piggy, the Finnish design classics and the understated wildness of the Finnish soul.
Tero Kuitunen laughs a lot and the movement of his hands is often mercurial when he describes his vision. He is wearing a bright red turtleneck that makes one think of the lily of the valley berries our mothers told us not to eat. The sweater is an eye-catcher, and it hints at a life-long love affair with colour and shape.
– One of my earliest memories is that I had this treasure, a red ruby brooch, and it was just so beautiful to look at. I also remember one time when I found clay from my aunt’s field, and I made the Muppet character Miss Piggy out of the clay and gave it to my mother as a present. Looking back, I don’t know if my mother was very happy about it since I kind of made the Miss Piggy look like her…
Apart from the general mischief he caused as a child, Tero also attended art classes where his love for creating things by hand was nourished further. This deep-rooted passion is now paying off for the Aalto graduate as he is the one curating the Finnish guest country exhibition for Vienna Design Week 2019. The name of the exhibition is “Wild at Heart”, which refers to a lesser known side of the Finnish soul.
– I think that underneath the shy and reserved surface there is a lot of humour, wildness and passion in the Finnish character. When I curate this exhibition I especially want to highlight that and introduce creatives who work in many different fields of design and art.
“Wild at Heart” will premiere during Vienna Design Week in September 2019, and after that it will also tour Budapest, Stockholm and Tokyo in collaboration with the local Finnish Institutes.
For Tero, the major objective of the exhibition is to chart the current design scene in Finland while simultaneously being on the lookout for the future. Yet as always, the Finnish Design Classics loom in the background, impossible to ignore when curating an exhibition of this magnitude. Tero might honour them, but he does not intend to let the classics dominate the exhibition.
– We have a great heritage in our design culture and that is fantastic. But I strongly believe that we need to support and bring forward young talents and new interesting makers. Also, the manufacturing has changed a lot. Nowadays things can’t be done in the same way that Alvar Aalto and his contemporaries were doing it. We don’t have factories in Finland where designers can go and present their ideas and learn what is possible to do and so on any more. However, what I see, which is very exciting, is that designers these days are doing more things in smaller quantities and with a more artistic approach. I feel like we are living in an age of a renaissance in design where people can move around more freely in different creative fields. Art and design are getting closer and closer.
Tero has a solid vision for the exhibition, and it also includes what he wants to evoke within those who visit it.
– I want people get positive and happy feelings form the exhibition. I also hope that the exhibition makes them think about things, like how design can influence or transform society. That being said, the main thing for me is to show something that we are not used to seeing when we think “Finnish design”. I hope people will be surprised.
Those who expect Finnish beige most assuredly will be.
Author: Fanny Thalén, intern at the Finnish Institute in Germany
Thank you to our partners, especially to: VIENNA DESIGN WEEK, Business Finland, Embassy of Finland in Austria and Visit Finland.