Interior Design Inspiration, Amy’s Trip to Finland Part 2

If you love design, Nordic or otherwise, the Helsinki Design Museum is a MUST. The first floor of the Design museum in Helsinki focuses broadly on Finnish Design.  Furniture, glassware, Fiskars scissors, Maramekko textiles, (click here to learn more) and even the angry birds game are all featured in this wide ranging smorgasbord of Finnish design. For more about the exhibition, click here.

But what truly captivated me was the upper floor, which showcased work by Timo Sarpaneva, who is best known for his designs in glass, but who experimented in metal, ceramics, and textile design as well. For more about the exhibition, click here.

Timo Sarpaneva Glass | Design Inspiration

Timo Sarpaneva Glass | Design Inspiration

Timo Sarpaneva Glass | Design Inspiration


The thing that impressed me the most was that it seems like Sarpaneva was ahead of his time in terms of having a “green” ethos:  he made glass sculptures from the leftover bits of glass from the bottom of the kiln, he made metal bottoms for tea glasses out of leftovers from a zipper factory, and he designed shelf paper intentionally using a printing machine that was damaged.

Sarpaneva Sculpture

Sarpaneva sculpture made from leftovers at the bottom of the kiln.


Tsaikka Tsaikka glasses

Tsaikka glass (made with leftovers from zipper factory)


Ambiente Shelf Paper design for Euran Paperi by Timo Sarpaneva

Ambiente Shelf Paper design for Euran Paperi by Timo Sarpaneva

It was funny because earlier in the day, when we were at Nuuksio National Park, Adam and I had seen a frozen waterfall that had rhythmic patterns in the ice.  A little less extreme than this image, but you get the idea:

Nuuksio National Park

Photo by Conde Nast Traveller

Our guide commented that the patterns looked to him like the work of a famous Finnish sculptor, and what with Finnish being so multi-syllabic, I didn’t catch the name.   But after seeing this exhibit, I’m convinced that he was talking about Sarpaneva.

Festivo candleholder by Timo Sarpaneva

Festivo candleholder by Timo Sarpaneva

My final clue was the technique that Sarpaneva developed for a whole line of glass pieces in which he omitted water from the molds so that the uneven (and sometimes rhythmic) markings of the wood molds telegraph onto the glass itself.  The candles ticks above represent this technique, and you can see both the glass items and the molds (an artistic object itself) here:

Sarpaneva Glass

Sarpaneva Wood Molds

We saw that the bottom floor was going to feature a graphic design exhibit.  But instead of seeing examples of graphic design itself, the whole exhibit was about how the graphic designer is invisible to the end viewer, as are the conditions under which the work.   There are many parallels with my work because I run my own design business and much of the work happens behind the scenes (not visible to the client).   The exhibit discussed pricing, burn-out, and ergonomic conditions, to name a few.  Fellow designers, you can learn more here.

To explore the exhibition, click here.  We hope you enjoyed Amy’s walk through her trip to Finland.  If you haven’t checked out part one, click here to read it!

Cover photo credit to Designmuseo

1 Comment
  • Julita
    Posted at 06:57h, 21 September Reply

    Love finland style thank you for this post.

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