Throughout the duration of 2017, the Southbank Centre that dwells next to London’s River Thames has spent the year exploring Nordic arts and culture. As we approach Christmas, the December month will see Finland’s centenary of independence. Timely enough, the Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson’s Moomins will be translated into a festive film.
At the start of the year, Adventures in Moominland was the UK’s first exhibit devoted to the characters. The author used her fictional figures to promote societal change with regards to perspective surrounding how women should behave. Now, Moomins play a protagonist role in Oxfam’s campaign to empower women globally.
In October, Dulwich Picture Gallery launched an exhibit dedicated to Tove Jansson and it runs until the end of January next year. Over in the National Gallery, on November 15th, Lake Keitele: A Vision of Finland explored the country’s alluring coastal landscape and undulating terrain.
Conclusively, it is apparent that the cultural significance of the country’s centenary has not gone unnoticed by the rest of the world. Consequently, the nation is supplying visual and intellectual inspiration.
In September, the Financial Times resolved that Finland had taken the world by the hand and led us to a place where design is pared-back and elegant. Simultaneously, the Old Truman Brewery explored ‘Finnish Form’ throughout London Design Week. As well as being known for being driven by simplicity and function, Finnish design is democratic. Objects are designed for ordinary life, to be mass-produced and made from modest materials.
As designers and creatives, this leads us asking how democratic design and humble materials can inform our work.
Looking to other Scandinavian countries, Nordic design heavily featured at Maison & Objet in September, alluding to the show’s theme of comfort. At London’s Literature Festival, the Danish author Christina Hesselholdt shared a reading from her recently published novel Companions. The narrative follows six characters over a period of time living in different places, sometimes together, other times apart. What is apparent is that they all share human feelings that are universal to us all.
One example of this presented at London’s Literature Festival was the Future Library. In Norway, a forest has been planted for a library that will open in 2114. Since 2014, every year an author has been invited to write a literary piece that will be published 100 years from now.
The concept invites us to contemplate the sentimentality of longevity that is a product of slow design. To be truly innovative, brands must consider how to create optimistic stories authored authored by messages of hope for the future.