In Good Hands
What does the past of handicrafts look like in the eyes of modern designers? What kind of inspiration can be drawn from the collection at the museum? The five designers invited to the exhibition In Good Hands will answer these questions, which consists of works from illustrator and designer Anna Alanko, visual artist Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen, fashion designer Henna Lampinen, sculptor Matias Liimatainen, and game designer Henri Tervapuro.
In Good Hands is the 140th anniversary exhibition of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft, which has been planned together with the Design Museum and Craft Museum of Finland. Friends of Finnish Handicraft was founded in 1879. The original aim of the association was to collect popular textiles, come up with new applications for their designs, and to bring to life forgotten textile traditions. The curators of the exhibition In Good Hands are artist researcher Riikka Latva-Somppi, and the director of the Swedish Centre of Architects and Design ArkDes, Kieran Long.
The designers invited to the exhibition visited the extensive archive of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft, which is part of the collections of the Design Museum. It contains, among other things, textile samples, artists’ original sketches in watercolors and weaves from the late 19th century to the 1990s. Each designer interpreted archival material through their own vision, field and background, and created new works based on it. They combine traditional craft techniques and different types of materials as well as technology.
Anna Alanko (born 1987) is an illustrator and designer whose work is characterized by dreamlike atmospheres and rich textures. In her work, Alanko daringly combines different techniques and plays with organic and digital contrasts. As the swatches are anonymous and not centered on specific artists, the works emphasize the role and hand of anonymous contributors, the physical movement behind the embroidered patterns, and the meditative process related to working with one’s hands. In her work, Alanko combines various techniques from digital 3D illustration, animation, and laser cutting to hand-painting and embroidery.
The work of visual artist and researcher Hanna-Kaisa Korolainen (born 1976) is rife with reference to Art Nouveau and Asian aesthetics. Her works are typically lavishly decorative and filled with romantic yearning for nostalgia. Found in the collection of the Design Museum, old photographs, sketches, and rya rug designs in the Friends of Finnish Handicraft archives, have provided inspiration for the exhibited works. The works of the artist are in dialogue with the old objects, creating an impression of times past and days long forgotten. Korolainen provides the viewer with an opportunity to glimpse an imaginary past that feels both strange and familiar at the same time.
Clothing designer Henna Lampinen’s (born 1991) work is characterized by materials-centric aspects and a handicraft-like work method, combined with an experimental expression of form. Historical topics often blend together with today’s reality. In her collection at the exhibition, novel techniques such as laser cutting and digital printing are combined with more traditional techniques such as hand sewing and tufting. The idiom of Lampinen’s clothing line was inspired by the era in the late 19th century.
Matias Liimatainen (born 1989) is a sculptor working with ceramics, glass, and wood. Liimatainen was particularly intrigued by the woven upholstery fabric swatches and their structures found in the Friends of Finnish Handicraft archived materials. In his new works, the textile’s texture and surface structure transforms into a three-dimensional surface accentuated by small ceramic parts. In addition to the swatches, the works by Liimatainen originate from artists’ sketches where serene colors blending into one another are repeated in the exhibition’s ceramic pieces.
Henri Tervapuro (born 1986) is a game designer and graphic artist with several published comics albums under his belt. In the Friends of Finnish Handicraft archive materials, Tervapuro became especially interested in the textile models of Impi Sotavalla, whose patterns reminded him of the visuals of older games. The archives’ textile models, swatches, sketches, and photos brought back childhood memories. The textiles reminded Tervapuro of how, as a child, he used to play with the patterns of his grandmother’s wall rugs and rugs on the floor. Henri Tervapuro lives in Ostrobothnia, and thus represents also the local visual culture and its current applications.
Photo above text:
Henri Tervapuro: Breath of The Ryijy, screenshot, 2019. Photo: Design Museum
More information about the exhibition in the Friends of Finnish Handicraft’s publication In Good Hands.