The Museum Director of Designmuseum Denmark Anne-Louise Sommer visited the Design Museum Helsinki last week, and she took the whole management team with her. The intention of the trip was to exchange ideas between the Design Museum´s in Helsinki and Copenhagen and to get inspired. We met with Anne-Louise to talk about their trip and ponder the different flavors of Finnish and Danish design.
How do you like Helsinki and do you have any tips for the design-minded people who travel here?
I have visited Helsinki many times, and I´m totally in love with the city. If you are interested in design and architecture you should definitely visit my favorite museum, the Design Museum. Also, I´d recommend seeing the new Amos Rex museum and the amazingly beautiful Temppeliaukio Church.
What similarities do you see between Finnish and Danish Design?
Many similarities can, of course, be found from the visuality of things, the lines are quite clean and simple, minimalistic. In Denmark the design is a little bit more low key, as in Finnish designs you can see the influence of folklore and national romanticism – look at you amazing Central railway station for example!
But more important than the surface is the baseline that we both share. The design culture in both countries draws from the idea of democracy and accessibility. I feel that in many ways Finnish and Danish design both reflect the surrounding welfare society and its values. It means for example that many products are manufactured so that they can be easily purchased by everyone. For example the Fiskars iconic orange scissors. It is a very well designed and thought out product that can be found in any household around the world. Even from my own house!
Maybe we look at the world through similar lenses. Many of the exhibition texts at Helsinki´s Utopia Now exhibition could be stated in our museum too.
What do you find to be the most inspiring Finnish design object? Do you have any Finnish design items at home?
I´m afraid it would be too hard to choose. Personally, I´m drawn to Aalto´s work. I have a couple of the iconic Aalto vases at home. I´m inspired by the Fiskars orange handled Scissors, that I mentioned before. They are industrial design as its best: well designed, user-friendly and accessible to everyone. They also stand the test of time, both aesthetically and in terms of durability, which is an important criterion when thinking of the ecological values and sustainability of any product.
Is there something that you especially liked at the Design Museum Helsinki, and vice versa, is there something we could learn from your museum in Copenhagen?
There are always things to learn from each other! For example, I´m so impressed with your immersive permanent Collections exhibition Utopia Now, which I have seen many times. It is relatively small but surprisingly comprehensive and it dives deep into the big themes. The Exhibition has been created in collaboration with a multi-professional team. In Utopia Now, you can see the work of curators and collections department, but also the input of audience work and educational services.
Text: Minni Soverila