October 19, 2017

Finnish design – form follows nature

Johanna Lahti

Brand manager for Design from Finland at The Association for Finnish Work.

I believe that form follows nature. Why? The power and essence of Finnish design has stemmed from nature for centuries. In the early days of industrialisation, international influence was visible in the patterns on porcelain and ceramics. Later, many Finnish designers the likes of architect Alvar Aalto contributed to the strengthening of a simple Nordic, yet distinctively Finnish style of design, present in all kinds of things from smart devices and clothing to furniture and forest machines.

Inspiration from nature can be seen in materials, colours and shapes. Wood looks like wood, colours follow seasonal changes and simplicity catches eyes. Iconic Finnish landscapes, be they calm lakes, quiet forests or endless snow underneath Northern Lights, have two things in common: tranquillity and lucidity. Also, summery fields of flowers and nights full of light must be behind Marimekko’s recognisable, colour-filled patterns.

Finns take pride in nature, yet still the ‘this is nothing special’ mentality lies deep in us. In Inari, Finnish Lapland, I felt quietly proud watching foreign visitors astonished by the beautifully crafted nature centre Siida. They were so excited about what they saw and experienced!

Did you know there are almost 30 nature centres and their shops in Finland? In Siida, I almost forgot to do my own shopping whilst following American, Central European and Asian tourists admire the products. Were they made of wood, bone, silver, stone, leather or textile, traditional or modern, they were all selected to represent Finnish design expertise. Whatever a traveller chose to take home, it was a piece of Finland.

An American gentleman turned to me and pointed out, “What a beautiful, fascinating country you have. You must be so proud.” I am. I am very proud of Finnish nature and everything inspired by it.

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