Design for Business and History

Design Museum Workshop

Helsinki, 2-3 April 2004
At Lume Media Centre


The status of design has always been a difficult question. In todays rapidly moving world this question has become ever harder to answer. In one view, in order to justify design as good design, one must be aware of the context and surrounding environment at the particular time, since time is an important factor in determining the value of design.  

What is “good design” then? Does one have to go to a museum to see the “good designs” of the past, or is it possible to see the “good designs” of today somewhere? This question is difficult for both, businesses and museums; it is, however, a question both of them are keen to answer.

It is difficult to pick out good design from the avalanche of information and products that we meet everyday, but nevertheless, businesses and museums have to do it in order to survive. Businesses need to follow the latest trends and changes in consumer behaviour, where as museums need to follow what type of design companies are endorsing, in order to create interesting contemporary exhibitions and to expand their collections.

One could argue, however, that this is no longer the case. The roles have been reversed. Companies now follow museums and examine their contemporary exhibitions and collections; the influence of the retro cannot be underestimated. Museums, on the other hand, follow the general public more closely and try to pick out the trends and new styles directly from different subcultures before big corporations feed them to the mass market. Brand name design is no longer the cutting edge of design; not for the museum and not for the consumer.

The question that arises is how can museums and businesses work together in scanning today’s society and can they find synergy benefits? Is it meaningful for these two entities to work on their separate fields, or is there a common goal that will benefit not only them, but design in general?

Day 1 - Design For Business

9.00 - 9.45          Registration

9.45 - 10.00        Marianne Aav, Design Museum - Words of Welcome

10.00 - 10.45      Ph.D. Mika Pantzar, National Consumer Research Center

Design as a consumer commodity - design in a consumer commodity

This lecture looks at the recent developments of Finnish leisure products, such as heart rate meters (Polar), wrist computers (Suunto), mobile phones (Nokia) and walking stick (Exel). In all these areas there has been a strong emphasis on design. All these products have been or are currently at the verge of mass market. It will be seen whether firms like Suunto and Polar, for instance, make a similar breakthrough as happened to Nokia in the mid 1990s.

11.00 - 11.30      Eero Miettinen, Nokia

Timeless classics or consumer goods?

Is it possible to create classics born out of our creations? Is there a mechanism, or is this random like? What is the time scope for classics to born, what about relatively young businesses like mobile phones? Best consumer products, classics or cult objects? Classics vs. volumes, is popularity a hinder for products to become classics? Elitism, marginality, are they good business? These questions and many more, are not going to be answered, but rather set as provocation for debate, that hopefully is going to continue eternally.

11.45 - 12.15      Gianluca Marziani

Melting pop

MELTING identifies fusion. MELTING POT has to do with the simmering, the mixing of contamination verifiable in a determined entity. POP brings us back to the sense of the communication, to the synthesis of a dynamic use of language, to the empathic rapport with diffused cultures. MELTING POP is the multi-form synthesis of a communication disposition of linguistic fusions. MELTING POP is a combination of visual art and other creative languages.

12.30 - 14.00       Lunch break

14.00 - 14.30      Jan Van Mol, Ad!dict Creative Lab

Design and branding in the WETM™ generation
Paper from the Fu[rni]ture Creative X-Ray©

In this day and age, brands should rethink what and how they are doing; not just because of the current weak economic situation, but also as a condition sine qua non to run a brand beyond the coincidental production of objects and services. That makes the processes about communicating, marketing, designing and branding a complex and difficult task. Jan Van Mol is looking, researching, questioning, praising and criticizing the way brands are using or lacking a creative, coherent, and honest approach towards the consumer. This creative, coherent and honest approach of branding is explained by getting the process even further: people, icons, media politicians, all have similar branding techniques.

14.45 - 15.30     Coffee

15.30 - 16.00      Dirk Imschoot, Imschoot publishing

Street Fashion

A story about street fashion with a general and personal vision, but most of all a story of freedom.

16.00 - 16.30     Closing discussion

18.00 - 20.00     Cocktails and buffet dinner at Design Museum

Day 2 - Design For History

9.00 - 9.45         Registration

9.45 - 10.00        Marianne Aav, Design Museum - Words of Welcome

10.00 - 10.45      Paola Antonelli, MoMA (video presentation)

Good design only exists in a design collection of a museum?

Video presentation of the design collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The presentation sheds light to the design collection of MoMA and the way it is kept up to date and acquisitions to the collection are made.

11.00 - 11.30      Prof. Peter Zec, Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen

Design Museums in Germany and their Communicational Goals

The lecture will give an overview on the role and aim of design museums in Germany. The focus lay on how they master the challenge between design business and culture. The museums to examine are: die Neue Sammlung in Munich, Vitra Design Museum in Berlin, Museum für angewandte Kunst in Frankfurt, Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt and red dot design museum in Essen.

11.45 - 12.15      Prof. Catherine McDermott, Kingston University

Totally Somewhere Else: defining cultural diversity and national identity in 21st Century British Design

This lecture will identify new British design and how UK designers are responding to the changing 21st century world and taking us Somewhere Totally Else, the intriguing title of 1968 essay by the legendary UK critic Peter Reyner Banham, cleverly referencing a Pop culture that also knew a thing about imagining the future.

12.30 - 14.00      Lunch break

14.00 - 14.30      Prof. Yrjö Sotamaa, UIAH

Historical Design vs. Good Design - the Educational Point of View

Scandinavian design has traditionally emphasised timelessness and functionality. Its ideal has been the development of beautiful everyday life. Design has become the competitive tool between industries and nations and as its ideal the creation of experiences and a limitless world. Design is spreading everywhere and it can be seen as the cultural skin of our environment. How should schools and museums react to this change? Are the traditional values of Scandinavian design disappearing?

14.45 - 15.30      Coffee

15.30 - 16.00      Marianne Aav, Design Museum

Design Museum

The lecture will focus on the "Great National Program" of Finnish decorative arts and design, and the role of the Design Museum as a collector and a forum for international design.

16.00 - 16.30      Closing discussion

Please note! Details of the timetable and topics are subject to change without any further notice.

The seminar is free of charge.

For more information about the conference, its full schedule and registration please contact the following address:
Fax. +358-(0)9-6220 5455
Tel.  +358-(0)9-622 540 (only between 8 am and 11 am on weekdays)


“Design for Business and History”
Helsinki, Finland - 2/3 April 2004

map  project  partners  forum  resources  EDN