The greatness & challenges of Finnish art and culture

As a journalist, reporting about arts and culture, this was my day: a chance to learn more about many artistic disciplines in Finland, from design to music and the fine arts.

We started at Design Forum Finland, a non-profit organization that aims to promote design as a key to success for companies.

According to Petteri Kolinen, the newly appointed Managing Director of the Design Forum Finland, Finland has much expertise in matters of design, but companies still don’t make use of it that much as a competitive tool.  Mr Kolinen also pointed out that internationalization is a key for the future success of Finnish design abroad. How? “Creating powerful brands,” he said.

What are the characteristics of Finnish design? Ms Anne Veinola, Design Forum Finland’s Communications Manager, said that that Finnish national design is known for its clear and pure shapes, honesty in the materials, functionality and a widespread availability.

Well-designed Finnish products can be found in regular supermarkets all across the country. These products might be expensive in the eyes of a foreign customer, but they are meant to last for years, even being passed on through generations.

That philosophy is followed by remarkable brands such as Marimekkorenowned for its original prints and colours. Their mission is to celebrate life through bold colours and vibrant prints on timeless products, meant to last and to be enjoyed in everyday life.

Marimekko's prints at the Flow festival and at Marimekko's factory in Herttoniemi (on the left and in the middle). Artwork at the Art Laboratory (on the right).
Marimekko’s prints at the Flow Festival and Marimekko’s factory in Herttoniemi (on the left and in the middle), artwork at Flow Festival’s Art Laboratory (on the right).

Despite the somewhat expensive prices, most Finns own at least one piece from Marimekko. Abroad, the brand is growing fast in the markets of Scandinavia, North America and East Asia, not much in the rest of Europe or in the neighbouring Russia, where there is no general interest in Scandinavian design.

We also had a chance to visit the offices of Music Finland. They taught us all we needed to know about the music industry in Finland, from the legacy of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius to the musts we couldn’t miss at Flow Festival. We learned about the challenges of the music industry in Finland, which are not that different from those encountered in other countries: music piracy is getting smaller, streaming services are very successful and people are willing to pay for them but they still represent small revenue and the music industry (49%) lives on income from live music.

This catchy and arrogant electro pop duo called LCMDF played at the Flow Festival. With an international career spanning over 8 years, LCMDF are mainstays on the Finnish indie music scene. (Music Finland, photo: Flow Festival)
This catchy and arrogant electro pop duo called LCMDF played at the Flow Festival. With an international career spanning over 8 years, LCMDF are mainstays on the Finnish indie music scene. (Music Finland, photo: Flow Festival)

At Flow Festival we had a first taste of the awesome atmosphere and great line-up of the main music festivals in Finland. We also visited Art Laboratory, showcasing work from students at the University of Arts Helsinki.

On a personal and professional final footnote, Flow Festival has meant my first Press Photo pass at a music festival, which means I got the chance to get close-up pictures of some of my favourite bands: Belle & Sebastian, Years & Years and many more. You can read more about #flow15 by my Norwegian colleague Petter Brønstad in his blog post.

Photos: Oriol Salvador Vilella, Johanna Unha-Kaprali

Oriol - Spain

Author: Oriol - Spain

Oriol Salvador Vilella comes from Barcelona. He works in social media and studies journalism. Oriol’s main interests are communication and culture, especially music. When we asked what Finland means to him, Oriol replied: “A country to learn from.”

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