The winners of the 2019 Helsinki Design Awards have been chosen: the Lifetime Award goes to Pekka Korvenmaa, Compensate was named the Talent of the Year, the Design Deed of the Year was done by Samuji, and Varjo VR-1 was chosen as the Product of the Year. The public voted the KWUM museum as their favourite.
Helsinki Design Awards recognizes designers, organizations and innovations that have promoted design during the year. In the spirit of Helsinki Design Week’s current theme, Learning Climate, the jury wanted to emphasize sustainability and the development and promotion of environment-friendly solutions.
The finalists’ works can bee seen at Erottaja 2 throughout the festival. The exhibition space on the first floor is open to the public. Exhibition visitors and Helsinki Design Weekly readers were given the opportunity to vote for their favourites. Based on the public vote, the Public Choice Award was given to the KWUM museum.
The finalists were chosen by a jury of professionals consisting of design historian Kaisu Savola, systemic solution specialist Jussi Impiö of Demos Helsinki, curator Suvi Saloniemi, professor Yrjö Sotamaa and designer Aleksi Kuokka.
Lifetime Award: Pekka Korvenmaa
Korvenmaa, Pekka, Aalto-yliopisto, Aalto University, Taik, School of Art and Desing, 2011
Pekka Korvenmaa is professor emeritus at the Aalto University Department of Design. Korvenmaa is an internationally known historian in art and design, and his works have been translated into many languages. He was part of a work group to create a national design strategy, the implementation of which led to design gaining importance and value on a completely different level, both in the private and public sector. As a professor, Korvenmaa has revealed the context of design, society and culture to a multinational student community.
“This is a fine, important acknowledgement. Applied arts, design, vibrate with such multivalency over and inside materials, art, arts and crafts, the digital world, research and teaching. It is wonderful to see the young generations do what we could only dream about a few decades ago! Furthermore, I will not withdraw. My work continues!” says Pekka Korvenmaa.
The jury explains their decision as follows: “Korvenmaa is a pioneer in design research and history. He has had a long career in teaching and research, promoting Finnish design both internationally and nationally.”
Promise of the Year: Compensate
Compensate is a non-profit foundation established in 2018, the objective of which is to stop climate change by providing people with the means to live carbon-negatively. The foundation brings individuals and companies together to act hands on to save the climate. On their website, Compensate provides everyone the opportunity to compensate for their annual carbon footprint, enabling consumers to make good for their purchases in real time. This will make people more aware of their climate impact and what their carbon footprints consist of. By the end of August 2019, Compensate has helped remove about 50,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, plant 735,000 trees and protect forests in an area corresponding 270 football fields.
“Winning this category of the Helsinki Design Awards is a great honour to us and indicates that we are doing the right things for the climate. We want to give people hope and the opportunity to influence. When taking responsibility is made easy for the individual, the prevailing systemic structures will start to change accordingly. We believe consumer behaviour is to change quickly when the price of CO2 is made visible in everyday life and purchases,” says brand director of Compensate Minna Kaitala.
“Fast reduction of CO2 emissions is a matter of fate for the humankind. Through Compensate, people can fund important projects, and moreover, pay attention to their own carbon footprints as well as find ways to effectively make them smaller. An interesting, innovative, explicit and transparent compensation service,” the jury says.
The Design Deed of the Year: Samuji
Samuji is a creative studio and lifestyle brand founded in 2009. Its objective is to produce sustainable and timeless design; products that serve their purpose and have a story to tell. The Samuji product family includes a women’s collection introduced twice a year as well as a Home collection launched in the autumn of 2014. Samuji’s founder and creative director is Finnish designer Samu-Jussi Koski.
“This acknowledgement comes in a good moment now that my faith in my work is being tested. Samuji is trying to survive the roughest waters in its history. If we sail, we’ll get to celebrate the company’s 10th anniversary.”
“Samuji creates products that stand the test of time, both culturally and materially. Products with resale value. The company has been built for a decade, and having faced an emergency, its customer relations held and enabled a successful crowdfunding campaign,” says the jury.
The Product of the Year: Varjo VR-1
Varjo VR-1 is the world’s only human-eye resolution virtual reality device. Varjo is a Finnish technology company founded in 2016 which makes world-leading VR/XR products for professional use.
“Varjo’s vision is to revolutionize human creativity and efficiency with iconic products that seamlessly combine reality and the virtual world. We do not compromise our products in any way, and Varjo’s VR-1 has become an international talking point and flagship of creating the future by combining top technology and design. We are flattered and happy that combining successful design and high tech has gained attention internationally as well as in Finland.”
According to the jury, “the product is the best in its category. It integrates many competence areas and will impact all of our lives. The product is already where progress is going.”
Public Choice Award: KWUM
KWUM is Korean for a dream – and at Fiskars it refers to the Karin Widnäs museum. The museum combines wood and ceramics and is a great example of how ceramics can be used in buildings. Architect Tuomo Siitonen has also designed the Studio Widnäs next door, which functions as a home, studio and gallery for the artist. In addition to the exhibitions that mainly consist of Karin Widnäs’s own collections, the museum temporarily hosts works from both Finnish and foreign ceramic artists.
“This acknowledgement and recognition encourages us to continue defending excellent professional skills in ceramics. KWUM is an all-year-round forum for ceramic art and utility objects. It presents alternating exhibitions and collections of ceramics. I want to continue to defend the position of ceramic studio art in Finland and to carry forward the deep understanding of materials and techniques developed during generations. Currently they are not receiving sufficient attention in education. KWUM’s and my dream is that appreciation for high quality design and professional arts and crafts will continue in both Finland and internationally in the future.”
Read more about the Helsinki Design Awards exhibition.