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Habitare to highlight Finnish design, responsibility
Sep 6, 2012

The 23rd edition of Habitare, the largest furniture, interior decoration and design fair in Finland, will run from September 12-16, kicking off the autumn season of the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre. With more than 400 exhibitors and several special areas, Habitare is part of the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 program and a visible part of WDC's design-related events in September. Habitare showcases interior design solutions for homes and public spaces, from furniture and materials to art, antiques and unique design items. Running concurrently with Habitare are the ValoLight lighting event, the Salon sales exhibition of antiques, vintage items and old art, and the ArtHelsinki contemporary art fair. Here are some highlights.

Image courtesy of Maarit Mustonen.
Halls 6 and 7, which form the largest exhibition area at the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre, will house the Ahead! international design area with a theme of ‘responsibility’. The exhibition architecture is by Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects, and their design bears the name 'The story of a tree'. It structures the space and provides a framework for the exhibitors’ visual offerings. This year, a hundred upright, untreated pine trunks will bring the atmosphere of a Finnish forest into the Ahead! area.

Ahead! 2011
In addition to furniture, interior decoration and design, Habitare will host of seminars and information sessions, and international exhibitors and speakers from across the EU and Scandinavia. The first day of Habitare is strictly for members of the trade, but the other days are open to the public. In 2011, Habitare was attended by 69,000 visitors.

Image courtesy of Maarit Mustonen.
To honour the WDC year, Habitare will host an extensive special exhibition, entitled Timeline, which features highlights of Finnish design and design history. Put together by the interior architect Kaisa Blomstedt, Timeline is a tribute to Finnish designers from the 1950s to this day. It shows where Finland's reputation as a design nation comes from. Typical pieces of furniture, light fittings, textiles and interior design objects from the 1950s to the 2000s are presented, with items from each decade shown in its own exhibition space. At the same time, the exhibition offers a background for each period and illustrates Finnish living in those decades.
Produced by Imu Design, Protoshop presents innovative contemporary design and its makers, and seeks manufacturing channels for professional designers. This year, 13 designs were selected for display. They constitute insightful ideas for products that spice up daily life in homes or public spaces. The objects are designed to solve small or large problems and to fulfil needs in a manner that makes our built environment more fun, functional and experiential. To honour the WDC year, Protoshop will also take a look back at past events and will present 10 hit products that have appeared during its four-year history.

The theme of this year's Habitare Design Competition, which targets young designers and design students, is a 'private space'. Habitare will present the ideas of five finalists for a space intended for personal retreat, relaxation and rest. The winner of the competition, now being held for the 11th time, will be selected by the designer Boris Berlin. The grand prize of €10,000 is donated by the Finnish Fair Foundation.
The special Kaj Franck section will this year present an exhibition by the award-winning interior architect Simo Heikkilä.
The theme of Habitare's international EcoDesign special exhibition is wood, which designers have worked to create interior design articles or pieces of furniture that are as eco-friendly as possible. All the proposals were curated, and items by 47 designers were included in the exhibition. The exhibited designers include well-known names from Finland and abroad, such as Harri Koskinen, Tapio Anttila, Yrjö Kukkapuro, Karim Rashid, Alfredo Häberli and James Irvine. New, up-and-coming designers will also be featured in an exhibition curated by designer Kristiina Lassus, who will also select the winner of the EcoDesign prize. The prize of €5,000, donated by the Finnish Fair Foundation, can be awarded to a designer or designer group. The exhibition architecture is by a work group from the Lahti Institute of Design, and all the furniture is planned to be recycled after the show. The exhibition’s cooperation partners include UPM, WWF, Motiva, Häfele, Salpaus Further Education and Finnish Forest Industries.
Finnish furniture and furniture-making will be put in the spotlight in the Made in Finland area, which is being put together for the third time. The exhibitors featured in the area will present joinery, upholstery, and furniture that ranges from dining tables to beds. The consistent feel of the area's exhibition architecture will be created in cooperation with Woods Helsinki. Woods Helsinki is a full-service joiner's shop that produces custom-made furniture for all types of spaces. The Made in Finland area will also host an exhibition and design competition for 'art rocking chairs'.
The ValoLight event is now being held for the third time in conjunction with Habitare. The new Pro Light area enhances the offering targeted at lighting professionals, such as electrical and lighting designers, architects, developers, and property maintenance companies.
The event will also see the announcement of the winner of the Luminord 2012 Nordic Luminaire Design Competition. This year, the brief of the Luminord competition is to design a free-standing light fitting or a pair of such fittings for the Presidential Palace and the Parliament House. The winner of the Luminord competition will be awarded a €5,000 prize donated by the Finnish Fair Foundation. Other prizes, with a total worth of €15,000, will also be awarded.

 


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