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The Design Museum to showcase an exhibition about the Finnish design classic Iittala

  • Design Museum Helsinki
  • exhibition
  • Iittala
  • Ville Kokkonen

Architect Florencia Colombo and industrial designer Ville Kokkonen research and curate an exhibition on the 140-year history of Iittala for Design Museum.

The comprehensive Iittala collection of the Design Museum – over ten thousand objects – and its extensive archives of documents and images are the curators’ primary resources. The exhibition is complemented by items on loan from private and public collections.

Practically all Finns are familiar with the Iittala brand that has also gained international recognition. The history of Iittala is, in fact, a complex story that reflects not only the history of the design industry but also the story of Finland and the country’s journey into a modern, affluent society. Simultaneously, Iittala has had a key role in the development of international design. The Nordic lifestyle, its progressiveness, sustainability and functional aesthetics are features that the brand cherishes and represents. What began as a small glass factory in 1881 has grown into a collection of timeless classics found in many Finnish homes.

“There have been many milestones on this journey – the quest for independence and the successive configuration of national identities, the effects of the wars, the flux of aesthetic and ideological movements, economic and diplomatic expansion, sociocultural shifts and the consequential changes within the ways of life”, Colombo and Kokkonen, the curators of the exhibition, point out.

The exhibition will be divided into two themes. The 140 years of Iittala and its reflections on the history of Finnish and international design will be viewed from many angles, as if through a kaleidoscope. The themes of ‘From Nature to Culture’ illustrate the life cycle of Iittala’s works, from material resource to their social functions.

“The history of Iittala does not follow a linear path but rather a complex network that is deeply embedded within Finland’s 20th century’s cultural, political and social evolution”, the exhibition curators explain.

Other exhibitions showcased at Design Museum Helsinki during winter and spring 2021:

  • Gunnel Nyman – Open archives 29 January – 14 March

    From the the archives of designer Gunnel Nyman.

    In 2019, the Design Museum received a significant donation: the archives of designer Gunnel Nyman (1909–1948). The archives contain sketches, correspondence, photographs and other materials that used to belong to the renowned glass designer. The exhibition to open at the Gallery of the Design Museum in January 2021 will introduce these archives that she personally collected and maintained. The exhibition will also highlight the processes of museum work. Will the archive materials shed new light on the work and life of the designer? What will happen to the archives as they become a part of the collection of the Design Museum? Visitors will be able to engage in museum work by participating in the Design Attic, where they will be invited to catalogue and scan sketches from the collection into the museum database.

  • Caitlin Yardly 29 January – 16 May

    Caitlin Yardley: Rhythm Without End, 2020

    In January, the Design Museum will feature its permanent exhibition, Utopia Now – The Story of Finnish Design and, in the Changing Room, an installation by Caitlin Yardley (b. 1984), an Australian artist based in London. Her work, Rhythm Without End examines and interprets design objects and the processes concealed behind them.

  • The Graphic Designer of the Year 2021 26 March – 30 May
    The Graphic Designer of the Year award is given annually by the Grafia Association of Visual Communication Designers in Finland in recognition of commendable work and results in graphic or other activity to improve the standard of Finnish graphic design and its recognition. The award winner’s exhibition will be showcased at Design Museum’s Gallery.

The Iittala – Kaleidoscope from Nature to Culture exhibition will be open at the Design Museum Helsinki from 26 March to 19 September 2021.

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