Architecture as Finnish ambassadors

Nov 21, 2017

“Architecture plays a significant role in building Finland’s image. At its best, Finnish architecture is functional, equal and ecological – and benefits inhabitants”, tells Laura Isoniemi.

Laura Isoniemi is a curator, producer and arts educator. She is also the advocator of the Echoes – 100 Years in Finnish Design and Architecture exhibition. The exhibition showcases Finnish design and architecture in celebration of Finland’s centenary. The exhibition has toured the capitals of eastern Central Europe and has now arrived in Berlin. It has provided Finnish embassies a stylish way to present Finland and to meet stakeholders.

Mirroring Finland for Central Europeans

The exhibition displays architecture and design from everyday life to festivities in Finland, with the themes: silence, equality, landscape, light & dark, man-made, tradition and community.

The pieces on show exhibit simple elegance and practicality. In the background are Finnish features, such as the remote location of the country, as well as its harsh climate and history; features, that have influenced Finnish design and architecture.

The exhibited artifacts range from plastic plates from the 1970s, jewellery from the 1980s and Ultima Thule glass to modern-day heart rate sensors. A number of churches represent the architectural element, as well as Maritime Centre Vellamo, for which Ruukki supplied the façade covering. 

Architecture on the pulse of time

Laura Isoniemi says that Finnish architecture serves aesthetical purposes and provides practical structures and solutions. At its very best, architecture is hands-on, composed and elegant, just like Finnish design.

“Architecture always speaks of an era, but also about the social situation. For instance, the Lastenlinna Children’s Hospital depicted advancement in post-war Finland”, Laura Isoniemi tells.

Architecture also enables reinterpretation of traditions.  The Kärsämäki Church displayed in the exhibition interprets traditions in a whole new context. This type of buildings become significant monuments and cultural sites that also help its users to gain understanding into the opportunities architecture provides as well as its mission.

“The Polin Museum that hosted the first exhibition is in a class of its own, being a museum of the history of Polish Jews. The building is the prize-winning result of Professor Rainer Mahlamäki, who curates the Echoes exhibition. Polin is an outstanding example of the status of Finnish architecture and its ability to revolutionarily rethink traditions, honouring yet renewing them”, Laura Isoniemi adds pleasingly.

An idea from everyday work

“I came up with the idea in 2014 when I was in China lecturing to architecture students about Finnish design and architecture. At the time, I was on a teacher exchange programme in China from Aalto University. The distance from Finland made me clearly see the brightness and value of Finnish design and architecture”, Laura Isoniemi adds.

In her lectures, Laura Isoniemi combined design and architecture under the same themes, and this is the special characteristic of the Echoes 100 exhibition. The idea for the exhibition to act as a tool for Finland’s embassies as an interesting theme came from a visit she made to the Finnish Embassy in Warsaw.

Invasion by design

The Echoes 100 exhibition is one of the largest internationally focused projects of Finland’s centenary year.

Ruukki was the main sponsor of the Echoes Exhibition of Finnish design and architecture in Prague. Other partners were Isku, Kone, Nokian Tyres, and YIT.

Before arriving in Prague, the exhibition had already toured Warsaw, Bratislava and Budapest. From Prague, the exhibition continued to Berlin, with the grand opening being on November 9th. The exhibition is open until 28 January 2018 in the joint Nordic embassy: Felleshus: Rauchstraße 1, D-10787 Berlin, Germany.

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