Wood of the World

Expertise, the human traces of handicrafts, authenticity and qualities, respect for the material on its own terms, woodworking, economic importance and the application of technologies to the creation of the polished ambience of our homes — these are the perspectives for the exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design marking the start of the autumn 2002 season, which features that most characteristic and perhaps the best-loved natural material in the Finnish habitat, wood and wood products.

Wood was featured in depth in the 1980s when the Language of Wood exhibition fostered an almost devout respect for folk woodwork and crafts that drew their inspiration from this. Once again we are approaching habitats created with the same material and outright fashion fads, in which the popularity of the material is tested in the product development of today. The exhibition also takes a look at far-removed cultures whose traditional ways of working wood have been fascinating and at the same time graphically demonstrated a community’s interface with the rest of the world.

To the discerning observer and consumer in Finland, wood and design belong together. Tapio Wirkkala’s massive sculpture celebrating the Finish wood industry, made for Montreal’s Expo 67, may be the most striking example of the skill and inspiration by which a natural material and the hand of man have together given rise to an unparalleled monument to wood, not to mention his innumerable plywood sculptures and leaf-shaped bowl or furniture items in which the material moulds the form. In the hands of Finnish artists Kain Tapper, Mauno Hartman and Pauno Pohjolainen, wood has shown its unlimited expressiveness as a material.

Homes were furnished with wooden items until plastic and related materials came along to replace it in the fifties and sixties. Still, nature has her attractions, and the qualities of wood have led to increasingly impressive assemblies of it. An example of this is Lahti Concert Hall, an example of the acoustic qualities of wood, not forgetting those musical instruments whose gentle tone is induced specifically by the material. Likewise Alvar Aalto’s bentwood Paimio chair is an example of the breakthrough of the 1930s, an innovation which assured Finnish furniture of a prominent place in the world of international design. Ilmari Tapiovaara was inspired by an African seat made of two planks, which formed the experimental basis of many practical solutions.

Life in the forests has provided the peoples of the world with an ancient ambience. Yearning for the safety and peace of the forest depths is still felt by people today, in the form of the wooden boards in the home sauna, for instance. The magical charm associated with woodworking lives on in wooden masks and figurines as a part of annual rituals. Inherited wisdom and skills are needed, the kinds that are evidenced by Native American totem poles or African masks. Oriental lacquer work and hanji paper objects have retained their vitality as strong symbols of their cultures.

The material needs of people in the welfare society are unlimited, from the morning paper to exclusive design. However, the appreciation of and respect for the material are among the choices that distinguish different parts of the world, countries, localities and homes.

Wood of the World is a statement intended to keep up the discussion on materials and people in their own environment, to display examples of skills and continuity by which perceptive development takes the use of the material one step forward, while continuing to respect its availability, working characteristics and economic importance. Included in the exhibition are internationally well-known exponents of wood and paper.

Korkeavuorenkatu 23
FIN-00130 Helsinki
phone. 358(0)9 622 0540, fax (09) 626 733

The Museum of Art and Design is now DESIGNMUSEO!

The Museum of Art and Design will embark on the autumn season 2002 with a brand new name and visual identity. The museum is now called DESIGNMUSEO. The new name is in line with modern standards, enhancing the museum’s international visibility and co-operation plans. The official launch of the new name and visual identity will coincide with the opening of the Wood of the World exhibition on August 23, 2002.

The new visual identity of DESIGNMUSEO has been designed by Focus MRM Partners/Focus Visual Identity. The agency has gone for a fresh, timeless and flexible look that will meet DESIGNMUSEO’s multidimensional communications and operational needs. The aim was to come up with a contemporary design-oriented solution that will suit the times and make for a better visibility.

DESIGNMUSEO has also renewed its operational mode and begun improving its communications and marketing in a professional, systematic and sustained manner. In addition to a strategic rethink, one of the project goals was to produce communications guidelines and tools for everyday work. The integrated and consistent communications and marketing material will support DESIGNMUSEO’s activities, improve visibility and make discourse easier.