Time seems to stop when three dots keep blinking on the screen of your phone, but there is no reply to your message. And time seems to drag on when the rainbow wheel starts to spin on the computer screen when you are in the middle of hectic workday. A pause can be dictated by circumstances, but in visual communication design it can also mean a much-needed break – such as a full stop or a dash that punctuate the text with pauses.
These are some of the forms of a pause that Graphic Designer of the Year 2023 Tomi Leppänen explores in his upcoming exhibition at the Design Museum Helsinki’s Gallery. Opening in March, the exhibition Tauko Paus Pause draws our attention to the various ways of indicating a pause in visual communication design, and applies the methods of conceptual art to them. The light installations and kinetic, motion-based works created for this exhibition measure time, keep the viewer waiting and encourage them to pause.
“A pause is always interlinked to the moments around it. It is used to create tension, to reflect and prepare for the future. A pause can be planned, unexpected or dictated by the circumstances. The works in this exhibition both depict the act of pausing and make the viewer stop in front of them,” Leppänen says.
The exhibition has been created in collaboration with the exhibition designer Hanna Anonen.
A pause sets the rhythm both in design and music
In addition to being a graphic designer specializing in visual identities, Leppänen is also a musician. For him, the creative processes in music and design resemble each other: rhythmic thinking is essential in both, and free intuition and experiments are their key elements.
“A pause is a basic element in music: rhythm is created in the sequences of beats and the pauses of different lengths placed in between. A pause is silent and invisible, but it can be made visible with the means of graphic design and symbol systems.”
Music plays an important role in the additional programme of this exhibition. Leppänen is one of the organizers of the 5 minuutin festivaali (5 Minute Festival) concept, and we will have the privilige to experience the event in late April. The sixth event will take place in the lobby space of the Design Museum as a part of the free-of-charge Design Evening on 25 April.
The 5 Minute Festival seeks to produce a full music show experience in a minimal time. Each artist has a five-minute slot, without breaks between them. The event is a social experiment that the performers and the audience share, exploring connections between time and content. Is it possible that a five-minute performance feels like a full show? Is it possible that a fourty-minute event feels like a full festival? Artists starring at the event will include Aho, Malla, Jimi Tenor, Normal Life, Kaukolampi, Tatu Rönkkö, Ringa Manner and Tuomas Toivonen.
Tomi Leppänen (b. 1976 in Siilinjärvi, Finland) is a musician and designer specializing in visual identities, actively engaged in the fields of design and the performing arts. He graduated as a graphic designer (BA) from the Kuopio Academy of Design and studied in the Master’s Programme in Visual Design Communication at the Aalto University.
Leppänen was granted the Graphic Designer of the Year 2023 award.
The annual award is granted by Grafia, the Association of Visual Communication Designers in Finland. Reasons for Leppänen’s nomination included his delightful, playful, and resourceful work in design.
Previously in his career, Leppänen has released his works in small series, launched a rug collection for the sustainable design company Mum’s, and created visual identities for several companies and festivals. One of his most famous works is the Varför Paris, vi har ju Åbo print, designed for the Turku Design Festival.
Picture: A sketch of the Dot Dot Dot (2023) light installation by Tomi Leppänen to be featured in the exhibition