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New Finnish Design Scenarios exhibit has a light touch

May 18, 2011 |  3:47 pm

Contemporary Finnish designers presented their work last week at a show in Manhattan's meatpacking district titled "New Finnish Design Scenarios," held to coincide with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair and New York Design Week.

The Finnish designers created spare and simple furniture, rugs and fabric made from paper yarn. Perhaps because they spend a lot of the winter in darkness, they seemed obsessed with lights, even figuring out a way to integrate LEDs in a rope swing, above, designed by Alexander Lervik.  

IMG_8862 The firm Innojok displayed a line of table and floor lamps called Innolux Design, which included pieces by Eero Aarnio, the man behind the iconic 1960s Bubble and Ball chairs, and reissued midcentury classics by designers Yki Nummi and Lisa Johansson-Pape.

Most intriguing: Innosol, a collection of lamps that have been certified as medical devices to provide bright light therapy to those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

The lamps come as flat panels, globes and designer shapes, including Aarnio's Kubo and Manhattan. (Both are pictured at right; the skyscraper-inspired Manhattan is the more shadowy light on the far left.)

Each provides 10,000 lux, the measurement of light intensity. (Outdoor summer light is rated at 50,000 to 100,000 lux.) 

The designer, Mari Isopahkala, was also on hand to explain a prototype of Kurki, an aluminum floor lamp with the profile of a minimalist sculpture: five 360-degree pivoting arms that emit LED illumination, shown below.

"I wanted to create a lamp for the user to choose how much light they needed and where they wanted the light to be placed," she said. To turn it off, she added, "You line up all the arms. To turn it on, you just move the arms to where you want them."

Finns have a distinguished place in the history of modern design. In the 1940s, architect Alvar Aalto designed bentwood furniture that preceded IKEA's ubiquitous Poang chair. Aalto's work is still produced today by Artek.

Eero Saarinen designed the iconic 1950s Tulip dinette set, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and the Jetsons-esque TWA terminal at JFK International Airport.

Aarnio is still at it, designing clothes hangers and watering cans for Plastex Design. 

Expect the celebration to continue. The International Council of Industrial Design designated Helsinki as a World Design Capital for 2012.


Model Citizens NYC exhibition

NoHo Design District standouts

The wild and the wonderful: Milan furniture fair 2011

-- David A. Keeps reporting from New York

Photo credits, from top: David A. Keeps, David A. Keeps, Mari Isopahkala