Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The 2009 biannual Habitare

The 2009 biannual Habitare fair (Weblink) of Helsinki finished last weekend. Habitare 09 was a joyful event that took place at the biggest exhibition venue of Helsinki; an extra large box to be filled with the best Finnish and plenty of international design can offer.

In fact internationalisation was evident in the presence of numerous projects wherein Finnish joined forces with foreign creative agents. See the case of the beautiful furniture designed by glocal talents Mikko Paakkanen and Naoto Niidome for the Japanese furniture company magaru, or the Italian company MAGIS with their colourful exhibits from legendary Eero Aarnio (pappy/stool, toy) and Oiva Toikka (paradise tree/cloth hanger) but also Javier Mariscal’s Villa Julia (play house). Skanno is one of the Finnish Companies with a long lasting footprint on the design world. It is a family business run since 1946 and going strong into the new millennium. The presentation of Skanno included their own line of furniture and some of the classic favourites of the house that they are going to get back into production, such as the Bomba armchair by Hillevi Sepponen from 1954, or the Lago table by anonymous from the 60s. Skanno is also taking into production strong ideas by new up-and-coming international designers, such as Tsutomu Mutoh with his playful high-tech lambs. The company is getting a new flagstore in the centre of Helsinki and launches a full scale interior design service. I must thank Shoreh Tervanen and Zeina Naso two of the in-house designers of Skanno who enthusiastically showed me around Skannos’ exhibits.

There were many projects that caught my attention in Habitare 09: the wooden lambs by Secto Design; the winning hanging chair by Samuli Naamanka; the very interesting exhibition design at savo a company specialising in kitchen appliances and lighting; the IGLOO book selves system by Linda Bergroth; Anna-Mari Vierikko’s lambs; the minimalistic designs from the brand Selki-Asema; NOUNOU design and Anu Penttinen’s “city plan” retro glass relief for the wall; the excellent project of the 15 designers’ collective called Design Migration; the slick furniture by the company Rintala; the classic and beautifully crafted wooden coffee table by late Ilmari Tapiovaara revisited for Aero; the essential mökki (cottage) by Naoto Niidome for Aamon a project with of far-east simplicity and spiritualism perfectly suiting Finnish back-to-the-basics style. Indeed there is not enough space here to go through the powerful display of design creativity in Habitare 2009. Before closing, though, I must add that sauna is a theme that is time and again revisited by Finnish designers.

It is in a way playing with the theme of Finnishness. This year too there were a few examples of studies on the Finnish sauna; the ones I visited were thoughtful examples of design amplifying the experience of sauna … right back to its essence, whatever that is.

Enjoy the photos!

Michail Galanakis

HABITARE, Helsinki 2009