The title of this post is how the curator, Timo Salli, began his talk at the opening for a show called “Invisible” at the Designmuseo. The show is a small collection of industrial and interior designers rethinking classic products like chairs and lamps. Each product was set on a raised, white pedestal unaccompanied by the usual title cards providing information about the designer of each item. At a table in the back of the room, there were piles of small mirrors no larger than a credit card with the word “Invisible” etched on them. Timo Salli demonstrated how to use the mirrors to see the name of the designers, which were printed on the bottom of each pedestal. By holding the mirror underneath the edge of the pedestal, one could see the names of the artists in the mirror. His intent was to force viewers to see the product first and name second. This game also made the show interactive, lightening the self-proclaimed serious nature of the subject matter.
This is a picture of the bathroom at the Designmuseo, an example of how no element is overlooked by Finland’s remarkable designers:
In the adjoining room, I saw my first Saarinen watercolor sketch of an interior called Hvittorp, 1902. Below is an image of another Saarinen interior, also from 1902. These sketches by Saarinen show his interest in every detail of a building, inside and out. Following Wagner’s interest in a total work of art, Saarinen designed everything from the furniture to the textiles.
Later, I saw more Saarinen when I passed by the Helsinki Central Railway Station. Eliel Saarinen won a contest to redesign the original train station, built in 1860 by the Swedish Architect Carl Albert Edelfelt. Saarinen’s design in the romanticist style was completed in 1909 and opened to the public ten years later. Saarinen would later move away from the style of this building, favoring the aesthetic of the International Style as seen on the Cranbrook Academy of Art‘s campus. (For my family members and readers who adore upstate New York, the Kleinhans Music Hall, 1940, was also designed by Eliel Saarinen in Buffalo, New York.) In 2003, a shopping center and a hotel were added to the basement of this train station. Today, when I entered the mall in search of an alarm clock, Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations” was playing on the radio.
After shopping for a bit, I headed to the Finnish Catwalk Event for the Spring and Summer Collections of 2011. In one of the collections that I saw, every model wore gold shoes. All the shoes were different styles– heels, flats, etc.– but every shoe was gold and extremely shiny. This was my favorite collection but it was impossible to see everything; it seemed like I was the shortest person there, by a long shot. I wandered around endless rooms full of clothes, bags, shoes, and accessories, feeling very out of place in my black H&M jacket and converse.
On my way home, I walked along the water of the Gulf of Finland. More importantly, I found a Marimekko store– a very full and wonderful day!