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National Museum of Korea shows unique development of Finnish design

Beaked boots (National Museum of Finland)
Beaked boots (National Museum of Finland)

Finnish-style furniture is popular in Korea, but not many Koreans have a chance to deeply think about how the country’s designs have evolved.

The exhibition “10,000 Years of Design – Man, Matter, Metamorphosis” shows how design in Finland has evolved around the country’s nature and ecosystem from the end of Ice Age when the Finnish landmass emerged.

Breaking the mold of typical design exhibitions, the current exhibition at the National Museum of Korea includes artifacts from the National Museum of Finland to show how design in Finland has evolved being interwoven with humans, environment and materials throughout the past 10,000 years.

“The exhibition uses a philosophical and humanistic approach to understand design in Finland using some archeological background, so we thought that the exhibition would be a good fit for the Museum of Korea,” said Baik Seung-mi, the curator of the exhibition. “Design is based on accumulation of knowledge by adopting to the nature and ecosystem of the region, so we tried to touch on that.”

“The exhibition is the first one that we have brought in from a Nordic country,” Baik added.

“Laitinen SS2010” (2009) by Tuomas Laitinen (Finnish Heritage Agency)
“Laitinen SS2010” (2009) by Tuomas Laitinen (Finnish Heritage Agency)

The exhibition consists of six themes: “Man Makes Things and Things Make Man,” “Matter Is Not Inert,” “The Ecology of Things,” “From Archetypes to Types,” “From Supernatural to Super Nature” and “Object Network.”

The exhibition also includes works from the famous Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto, a pioneer of modern design who used organic and naturally derived materials. His “L Leg” shows how the designer used nature in an innovative and simple way. As trees are abundant in Finland -- there are 72,000 trees per square kilometer and approximately 22 billion trees in total –- trees have been the main subject of Finnish design, according to the museum. 

Beaked boots (National Museum of Finland )
Beaked boots (National Museum of Finland )
“10,000 Years of Design - Man, Matter, Metamorphosis” was first shown at the National Museum of Finland, where it ended last February. The exhibition in Korea was created with some features, including display of Korean artifacts that resemble those from Finland, to give a sense of universality of human kind, the curator said.

The exhibition in Korea provides some experiences of Finnish culture such as sauna, watching aurora in a dark room and listening to music composed by Finnish composer Jeon Sibelius in a snowy background to help understand the culture of Finland.

The exhibition runs through April 5 at the special exhibition gallery in the museum. The exhibition will then travel to the Gimhae National Museum from April 21 to Aug. 16 and the Cheongju National Museum from Sept. 1 to Oct. 4. 


By Park Yuna (yunapark@heraldcorp.com)
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