Discover Helsinki 2018 - 2019

Plastic, fibreglass and textiles 

Kuplat - Yki Nummi

Kuplat, designed by Yki Nummi, is a Finish design classic dating back to 1959. Picture: Sakke Somerma / Visit Helsinki Media Bank

The 1960s saw a strong backlash against the cult of the individual designer.

Suddenly, the design professional was to produce anonymous, universal objects instead of exclusive art objects.

New materials such as plastic and fibreglass posed novel challenges and facilitated, for instance, wider and faster furniture production.

Eero Aarnio’s eye-catching fibreglass chairs, Pallo and Pastilli, illustrated the possibilities offered by the new materials.

Even now well into his 80s, Eero Aarnio is still actively creating new designs, including lamps and a children’s collection. 

The orange scissors by Fiskars are another Finnish design classic that was born in the 1960’s.

The ergonomic scissors are now sold all over the world.

They are a great example of Finnish functional design. The scissors have registered sales of more than one billion. 

The textile and clothes company Marimekko, founded in 1951 by Armi Ratia, won popularity with the glowing printed fabrics, jolly Tasaraita jersey cloths, and liberal ideals. 

The dreams of the 1960’s were shattered by the 1973 oil crisis.

Henceforth, increasing emphasis was placed on the constructive social role of designers. Handicrafts collectives and ceramic workshops were set up in empty schools and factories.

Meanwhile, the profile of industrial design was raised by a generation of newly graduated designers specially trained in the field.

Key concepts included “ergonomics” and “design for need”.

Related articles:

  • Postmodernism and recycling, Young fashion designers
    Postmodernism and recycling, Young fashion designers

    Picture: Visit Finland The 1980s saw the breakthrough of international postmodernism in Finland and elsewhere. All the styles and movements of the twentieth century were freely reworked and juxtaposed, resulting in superficial, sensationalist design, but also in joyful and daring new departur...



  • The heyday of art glass
    The heyday of art glass

    Functionality and enduring design are in the core of Iittala's design philosophy. Founded in 1881, Iittala started as a glass manufacturer. Today, glass and art glass are still an important part of Italy's heritage. Handicraft skills and traditional materials became important during and immedi...



  • Finnish Design - a brief introduction
    Finnish Design - a brief introduction

    The Aalto Vase (also known as the Savoy Vase) is a world famous piece of glassware and an iconic piece of Finnish design created by Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino. - Picture: Visit Finland Media Bank During the past 150 years design has shaped Finnish culture and national identity. Finnish des...