The National Museum visit helped me expand my understanding of Finnish culture.
Finland has been the spine of the Nordic modernism international- influential style. It started rising since the 18th century and by the mid 20th century a solid Finnish modernist movement was in place, even though the country had remained relatively agrarian and politically neutral until this time and didn’t enjoy the quality of life and economic dynamism that it boasts today.
The works of the world-acclaimed Alvar Aalto and other notable Finnish architects shaped and reconstructed the face of Finland since after World War II. This sway expanded beyond architecture to inspire a 20th century interior and industrial design revolution that took over, specially northern, Europe during the 1990’s–epitomised through publications such as Wallpaper (English trend magazine). Then Europe overcame it, Japan naturally mastered it – so far so-called “minimalism” is still expressed, and quite frankly worn out, around the world today as a symbol of sophistication.
With a population of 5.4 million, according to a Le Monde (French newspaper) review, there is a suggestion that
“Finland has more great architects in relation to population than any other country in the world.”
Beyond design, I would say contemporary Finland feels and is much less Viking than its Scandinavian neighbours and more Russian / Eastern than the rest of Europe. Surely a bridge between the west and the east, it maintains a balanced philosophy in key areas: culture, politics, economics, health and education. Finland has been ranked the second most stable country in the world, barely affected by the global economic fall.
Design has definitely been an integral part of Finland’s embedded innovation culture that has led to prosperity. With global-leading brands such as Nokia, Kone and Marimekko, first class education such as University of Art and Design Helsinki – it is not surprising that it will become the World Design Capital host in 2012.