Design Museum's new exhibition, Secret Universe, explores the origin of objects

Are traditional handicraft methods becoming extinct? Why are most of the items we use made far away rather than closer to us? This spring's main exhibition at the Design Museum in Helsinki is Secret Universe by designer duo COMPANY, i.e. Aamu Song and Johan Olin.

Aamu Song and Johan Olin
The founding members of the Helsinki-based design practice COMPANY, Aamu Song (b. 1974) and Johan Olin (b. 1974), work as designers, artists and producers.

AAMU SONG and Johan Olin began to find out in 2007 what kind of objects are made in today's Finland. The result of their research was Top Secrets of Finland, a collection of items compiled together with local artisans. Their exploration of traditional manufacturing methods continued in factories and workshops in Korea, Belgium, Estonia, Russia, Japan, the United States and Mexico.

“Locally made products are a dying breed, because they are being replaced by cheap products, and locally made products are too expensive without a good reason. This affects our decision of where we go next, into which country and how we go about our design work”, say Song and Olin.

“Locally made products are a dying breed, because they are being replaced by cheap products, and locally made products are too expensive without a good reason.”

Drawing for Fruit Matryoshka
Aamu Song's drawing for Fruit Matryoshka (2015) is part of the Secrets of Russia collection.
Roller Chair
Roller Chair from the Secrets of USA collection. The chair doubles as a marble roller.

The Design Museum exhibition presents furniture, clothes and artwork inspired by traditional handicraft, and a large mural depicting all factory visits made by the duo. The themes of article production and global mobility are woven into a story that invites us to consider the origin of objects we use and our own consumption habits.

The way COMPANY work combines anthropology, folklore and mysticism with an intelligently humorous touch.

Aamu Song and Johan Olin
In 2010, COMPANY received the State Prize for Design, and in 2018 the Helsinki Design Award in the Internationalization category.
Mushroom Forest lamp
Mushroom Forest lamp (2015) is part of the Secrets of Japan collection.
COMPANY Design Museum
Artek presents the FIN/JPN Friendship Collection at Milan design week in April 2019. COMPANY's Secret of Finland ceramic objects are part of this collection.

On red-letter days, traditional handicraft is celebrated, when visiting master artisans from Japan, Mexico, Finland and Russia can be viewed as they work. Design workshops organized once a month focus on masks that will be presented as an installation in the exhibition space. The Secret Universe exhibition has been curated by Suvi Saloniemi, while Linda Bergroth is in charge of the architecture.

COMPANY: Secret Universe, 5.4.–22.9.2019. Design Museum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki, Finland

Osma Harvilahti Gone Fishing
Gone fishing Saint Tropez, 2017. “Gone fishing, Fashion Eye Saint Tropez © Louis Vuitton Malletier / Osma Harvilahti”

Osma Harvilahti: New Colour

THIS SPRING, Design Museum's Gallery Space will present photographer Osma Harvilahti's (b. 1983) first solo exhibition New Colour, which takes a look at modern design and fashion by means of photography. Currently living in Paris, Harvilahti has been working for international magazines and fashion brands, such as Issey Miyake and Louis Vuitton. He has also taken the portraits for Mette and Rolf Hay's interview on Design Stories. Harvilahti's exhibition consists not only of commercial photographs, but also personal, documentary series.

Osma Harvilahti: New Colour 5.4.–26.5.2019. Design Museum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki, Finland

Edit: Nora Uotila Images: COMPANY and Osma Harvilahti Portraits: Elina Simonen

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