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HAM sends Finnish art and design on tour of Japan

Finnish design staples have embarked on a two-year, four-stop tour of Japan, showcasing the work of some Finland’s best-known artists and designers.TSUTOMU MIURA / TOTTORI PREFECTURAL MUSEUM

Finnish Design for Everyday Life – Patterns and Forms Inspired by Nature, an exhibition curated and produced by Helsinki Art Museum (HAM), has embarked on a four-museum, two-year tour of Japan.

The exhibition showcases the history, design and art of modernism in Finland from the 1930s to the 1970s, casting the spotlight on the evolution of design toward the popular phenomenon it is today through roughly 300 works from almost 40 artists and designers.

The featured artists include Aino Aalto, Alvar Aalto, Eva Anttila, Kaj Franck, Saara Hopea, Dora Jung, Timo Sarpaneva, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Helena Tynell and Tapio Wirkkala.

The exhibition delves especially into how the artists have experienced and drawn inspiration from flora and fauna, the changing of seasons and other natural phenomena – elements that are present also in the daily lives of modern-day Finns. Among its other focal points are the successes of the Finnish textile industry, led by the likes of Finlayson and Marimekko, and Finnish art and design at the New York World’s Fair in 1939–1940 and the Milan Triennials in the 1950s.

Annika Rimala is known for her Marimekko designs. Image: Harry Kivilinna

Curated by Heli Harni and Harri Kalha of HAM, the exhibition was opened in Tottori Prefectural Museum on 10 October. It will move to Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art in Fukuoka, before making the last two stops of the tour in the Museum of Ceramic Art in Hyogo and Bunkamura in Tokyo.

The tour is organised in co-operation with NHK Promotions, a subsidiary of the national broadcasting company NHK.

In addition to HAM’s own collections, items and works on display have been borrowed from The Alvar Aalto Museum/Alvar Aalto Foundation, Design Museum, Helsinki City Museum, Kakkonen Collection, Moomin Characters Ltd, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Vapriikki and private collections.

Alvar Aalto’s chairs continue to find an audience among lovers of design. Image: Rauno Träskelin
By: Aleksi Teivainen