Aalto University Archives

Object and environment exhibition 1968–1971

By Leena Svinhufvud
Object and environment exhibition 1968-1971
Original slides from object and environment exhibition 1968–1971. Photo: Kitty Norros

Educational Curator, Head of Learning Leena Svinhufvud, Design Museum Helsinki

“Object and environment” exhibition 19681971

The pedagogical exhibition Esine ja ympäristö (Object and Environment) by the STTY (Finnish Society of Crafts and Design) took consumer education of Finnish design to libraries, schools and exhibition spaces between 1968–1971.

“The goal of this exhibition is to offer with 200 images, 80 slides and 200 objects something most essential that we all should recognize and be able to discuss of.” (Uusi Suomi newspaper, 6 June 1968)

Finnish design was internationally known but in Finland there were no educational materials for schools or wider audiences on the subject. Hence, the exhibition was executed with the support of the Finnish National Agency for Education and included in-service training for teachers in Helsinki, Rauma and Jyväskylä.

The objects and black and white images chosen for the exhibition depicted the evolution and cultural specificity of object design, and its contemporary challenges.

“There are no luxury items in this exhibitions, just essential everyday objects from door handles to chairs and plates to vehicles. The aim is to show visitors with these images and objects how design makes things more convenient, easier to use and also cheaper through mass production.” (Pieksämäen uutiset newspaper, 26 March 1969)

1960’s Finland was urbanizing fast and ways of consumption were changing. Increasing wealth and free time accelerated spending as well as producing consumer goods and services. Living environments were developing fast and with the new “telecommunicational devices” the world was closer than ever.

Now the “technologized” society was facing challenges like short life span of consumer goods, “acceleration of consuming”, throwaway culture and the waste issues resulting from the use of artificial materials. On the other hand, new materials were also seen as a necessity and plastic was seen as a solution.

In the 1960's there was strong design criticism against the establishment in Finland. At the time STTY was the main promoter of Finnish design industries and exports and this exhibition is an intriguing gesture from this institution.

The Esine ja ympäristö exhibition was made by Esa Vapaavuori (exhibition architecture), Jaakko Lintinen (texts) and Jukka Pellinen (graphic design).

Re-imagining the Past exhibition Vol. 2 online
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