Builders of the Future – Finnish Design 1945 – 1967 explores the fascinating recent history of Finland and its golden age of design. It continues Design Museum’s series of period exhibitions, of which the most recent one, in 2010, was on the theme of modernism. Builders of the Future presents the ways in which Finland rose from the economic hardships of the Second World War to become one of the world’s leading countries in design. It tells of how design and architecture influenced reconstruction, of the challenges of the period, and of the impact of design on national unity, society and economic progress.
The international popularity of Finnish design was preceded by its positive reception at world’s fairs: the success of national romanticism at the Universal Exposition in Paris in 1900 and the popular acclaim of architecture and design by Alvar Aalto at the New York World’s Fair of 1939. In the peak years from the late 1940s to the 1960s, Finnish designers, like Tapio Wirkkala, Kaj Franck, Timo Sarpaneva and Nanny Still were fêted abroad at the Milan Triennials in Italy and the Design in Scandinavia exhibitions in North America that were jointly arranged by the Nordic countries.
Design Museum’s summer exhibition presents not only the important icons of the golden age of Finnish design but also the phenomena that led to considerable international renown, their background, and less-known designers who were also involved. The exhibition discusses the fostering of good taste, the promotion of design in the media, and the impact of industry and mechanization on design and thereby on everyday life in homes. In the 1950s, design was a competitive effort almost comparable to participating in the Olympic games. By the 1960s, change was brought about not only by emerging critical voices but also by new materials and technologies that were the basis for the joyous pop culture of plastics and bright colours.
Builders of the Future runs until September 23 2012 at Design Museum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, 00130 Helsinki