Helsinki | icon 053 | November 2007

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words Laura Houseley

Craft and nature continue to be prevalent themes for many young Finnish designers, and Helsinki Design Week showed that the shadows of Alvar Aalto, Kaj Franck and other greats still loom large.

Cheering on the home-grown talent was the Design Forum Finland, responsible for awarding the Finnish Designer of The Year accolade – Janne Kyttänen of FOC (Freedom Of Creation) is this year’s winner. The high-profile Designer Awards ’07 included a trophy for textile artist Niran Baibulat, who for over a decade has been scavenging materials and objects from the Finnish landscape and applying them to traditional methods of textile-making.

The Habitare fair is the focus of the week’s happenings, and its Ahead! event is the hub for contemporary design. Grandma’s Revenge was a pleasingly titled table featuring a needlepoint design with trailing yarn by Mikael Heikkilä, who was part of a strong student group from the University of Lapland.

The Cable Factory across town was the alternative to the commerciality of the Habitare fair. Outside was Viktor On Wheels, a mobile collective of young designers showing goods in the backs of their customised vans. Notable was the simple Maneki chair with protruding hook by Yuki Abe. Inside, Fine FI’s Veitsen Terällä knives were attracting morbid attention. A handful of Helsinki’s young talents were invited to improve on a kitchen classic – the FA Porsche-designed Chroma type 301 knives – by applying a laser-etched pattern onto their surface. “We were inspired by the country’s high suicide rate,” one designer was overheard explaining.

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