Made of Plastic

History of Plastics in Finnish Design
link to website

April 2 - May 23, 2004

The Design Museum Helsinki shows the exhibition "Made of Plastic. The History of Plastics in Finnish Design."

In 1921 the first Finnish plastics manufacturer Sarvis was founded. They made mainly buttons, combs, belt buckles and other small items out of casein. With the technical innovations of the late 1920s, several Bakelite manufacturers were founded in Finland and after the Second World War a real plastics boom started with the emergence of new materials, such as nylon, acrylics, Teflon and silicone, to name a few.

The 1950s and 60s were real "design plastics" decades and produced some of the most well-known design classics of our time, such as Eero Saarinen's Tulip chair of 1956, Yrjö Kukkapuro's Karuselli chair of 1964 or Eero Aarnio's Bubble chair of 1968.

After the oil crisis and environmental concerns of the 1970s, plastics have come a long way and are an inseparable part of our everyday life. Plastics hearts, joints, implants and other medical devices live inside our bodies, while most of the clothes we wear have at least parts of them made of plastic, and almost all of the everyday objects we use have plastics in them. Now innovative technologies offer new directions for design with plastics and the ever-improving recycling methods allow us to find more sustainable ways to use it.

Made of plastic - History of Plastics in Finnish design - exhibition highlights the key developments in the use of plastics in Finnish design and also showcases a continuum of history of a material that has changed our daily lives more dramatically than we even realize. The main emphasis of the exhibition is on design and the plastic design classics will benchmark periods and trends that are relevant in the history of Finnish plastics.

The exhibition includes items from designers such as: Eero Aarnio, Sari Anttonen, Arni Aromaa, Yrjö Kukkapuro, Yki Nummi, Eero Rislakki, Eero Saarinen, Timo Sarpaneva and Tapio Wirkkala.

The sailing boat One 40, designed by Guy Lönngren, will act as a "landmark" for the exhibition in front of Design Museum. One 40 received the Finnish Design Award 2001.


map  project  partners  forum  resources  EDN