The Friends of Finnish Handicraft association was founded 130 years ago in response to a manifesto urging Finnish artists and crafts enthusiasts to cherish Finland’s national heritage of crafts and to develop the tradition. Textiles have played a central role in Finnish handicraft throughout these years. The association’s jubilee year events culminate in an exhibition at Design Forum Finland this spring, in which the association presents new work by ten Finnish designers inspired by tradition. The designs draw upon the Finnish crafts tradition, and the designers have partnered with the Friends of Finnish Handicraft and small Finnish enterprises in the production of the designs. These unique pieces are 100% Finnish design and Finnish workmanship. Each product relies on some “friendship” between the creators. Hence the name of the exhibition, Friends & Friends – 100 % Finnish. Saara Renvall has created Piilo (“hideout”), which combines a wicker basket and a fabric made from yarn for rugs. The main idea for Renvall was to create an item suitable for manual production by visually impaired craftspeople. Piilo is a study on combining a rigid and soft material, in a way that gives a justified role for both. The result is a series of containers for various items of the home. The textile section closes the basket and hides the items. The basket grows in size as it is filled. Outi Martikainen has evoked a traditional collective napkin, kokat, from Orthodox Karelia. Kokat were always highly embroidered at both ends. Martikainen has used images from her life and past to decorate her new version of kokat. Elina Helenius has created soft textile stools, Kantopallit, embroidered with traditional motifs from Karelia. Inka Kivalo has designed jewelry from textiles – necklaces and a brooch. Eeva Lithovius has made clocks from berets. The other designers in the exhibition are Elina Aalto and Klaus Aalto (Leikkimatto, a rug for play), Katri Haahti and Markku Salo (Naku, glasses with textiles) and Anneli Valkama (textile art and new takes on traditional Finnish “himmeli” decorations). Friends & Friends – 100 % Finnish is on view at Design Forum Finland’s gallery in Helsinki, Finland through April 3rd, 2010.
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