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:

  • Enduring classics of Modernism
    Enduring classics of Modernism

    Picture: Rauno Träskelin / Visit Finland The earliest and still working companies in the field of the applied arts were the Arabia ceramics factory (founded in 1873), and Nuutajärvi glass factory (founded in 1794). In 1928 Riihimäen Lasi organised a glass design competition. The winning ...

  • Folklore and magic
    Folklore and magic

    Picture: Jussi Hellstén / Visit Finland The past few years have seen the rise of Finnish illustrators. The hottest names now include Sanna Annukka, whose colourful work uses Finnish folkloristic themes. You may have seen her work in products by Marimekko, Mark&Spencer’s and Vogue. The Ams...

  • Ready for Finnish design?
    Ready for Finnish design?

    Picture: Katja Hagelstam / Visit Finland A good starting-point to see Finnish design is the Design Museum (Korkeavuorenkatu 23), one of the earliest in its field in Europe. The museum has a collection of Finnish and foreign design, including fashion, industrial design and graphic design. See ww...