As research shows Finland has excellent competitiveness in international markets, an increasingly important part of this overall competitiveness has been played by industrial design and the added value it brings. The story of Finnish design is also part of the background to this success. First the myth of Finnish design was built, generating the international reputation of our design, which is still today the cornerstone of Finnish design's success.
The myth of Finnish design was created in most respects in the 1950s. The Finnish Society of Crafts and Design was founded as early as 1875 and thanks to the education it provided several well-known designers such as Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva, Kaj Franck, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Vuokko Nurmesniemi and Antti Nurmesniemi, reached world-fame. The Finnish Society of Crafts and Design created the Finnish section at the famed Milan Triennales of the 1950s and 60s. The Triennales and the prizes quickly spread the fame of Finnish design, making a name for its leading lights - Wirkkala, Sarpaneva and Franck.
Before the Finns' success at the Triennales, Alvar Aalto had been designing innovative furniture and new kinds of glassware since the 1930s, attracting attention in the international arena.
Myths are born of stories. The legend of a small, northern country's struggle against the forces of nature and the pressures of history provided a basis for marketing design with mythical elements: snow, ice, forests, lakes, the summer of light and sisu (perseverance) were an inspiration to designers.
In the 50s and 60s the Finnish national identity was internationally built up largely through design, architecture and music. The images arising from this made Finland stand out between East and West and created a unique identity for it. Distinctive industrial arts became an export also in an imaginative sense. The myth of Finnish design was complete.
Over the years the myth changed into an international reputation of our design. The image of our industrial arts became more everyday, but more realistic. Finnish design had become a concept. It has a reputation based on its strong history, original styling and high-quality manufacture.
Source: Virtual Finland -web site