Jukka Savolainen: 5 achievements of Finnish design

Director of the Helsinki Design Museum Jukka Savolainen talks about five iconic things that his compatriots have developed.

A vase with asymmetrical lines is one of the most recognizable images of Finnish design. Designed in 1936 by spouses-architects Alvarom and Alvar & Aino Aalto for a competition organized by Finnish companies Karhula and Iittala. The latter still produces a model in a variety of variations. The vase with edges reminiscent of the outlines of Finnish lakes was a resounding success in Paris, at the World Exhibition of 1937. It is used in large quantities in the interior of the Finnish restaurant Savoy, which was designed by Alvar Aalto: hence the name assigned to the model.

The scissors, designed by Olof Bäckström for Fiskars, were the first scissors with plastic handles. Cheap to produce, they were also lighter, more convenient, and better cut. The iconic orange handles are the result of a happy accident. Initially, the designer planned to make them black, red, or green. But the factory began to use the orange plastic left over from the production of juicers. It was this option that was eventually recognized as the best.

The outstanding Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala was also a sculptor. So the glasses from the Ultima Thule series, created by him for Iittala, are more like art objects. The amazing textured surface is a reminder of the melting ice of Lapland. This effect was achieved thanks to the casting of glass in solid forms with a carved pattern inside. Glassblowers have spent thousands of hours perfecting this technology. Today, Ultima Thule is the most popular series of glassware in the Iittala range.

This Nokia business smartphone is considered the first device that combines the functionality of a PDA and a mobile phone in one case. When folded, it looks like a phone, and when unfolded, it looks like a laptop. Although the model is far from today’s technology, it was a breakthrough for its time.

A series of computer games about “angry birds”, developed by the Finnish company Rovio, won millions of hearts and became the most popular and profitable in the history of mobile platforms. Recognizable style, intuitive interface, and thoughtful sound range – are among the reasons for the stunning success of Angry Birds for people of all ages.

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