EMMA’s Magic Room exhibition explores Yrjö Kukkapuro’s designs – and his love of art

The Magic Room exhibition at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA celebrates the 90th anniversary of the legendary Finnish designer Yrjö Kukkapuro. Alongside Kukkapuro’s iconic furniture and prototypes, the exhibition showcases a selection of bold, colorful art.

Yrjö Kukkapuro – Magic Room exhibition, EMMA
The Magic Room exhibition is dominated by bold colors and shapes.

DESIGNER YRJÖ KUKKAPURO, born in 1933 and turning 90 this year, has enriched the field of Finnish design for over 60 years. In honor of his anniversary, the EMMA museum presents a selection of Kukkapuro designs with artworks that capture the spirit of his work.

The exhibition’s name refers to a concept developed by Kukkapuro in the 1980s inspired by installation art: Magic Room was kind of a stage setting created with special structures and lighting, showcasing the furniture in a novel, eye-catching way. This way, Kukkapuro introduced influences from installation and conceptual art to the presentation of industrial design. At the Magic Room exhibition, on display are Kukkapuro’s furniture and his experimental lighting and prototypes spanning from the 1960s to the 2000s.

Yrjö Kukkapuro
Yrjö Kukkapuro in 2021.
Yrjö Kukkapuro – Magic Room exhibition, EMMA
Yrjö Kukkapuro’s design language is strongly connected to modern and postmodern art.
Yrjö Kukkapuro – Magic Room exhibition, EMMA
The name Magic Room refers to a concept developed by Kukkapuro in the 1980s inspired by installation art.

In addition to Kukkapuro’s designs, the exhibition highlights his strong connection to modern and postmodern art. Visitors can explore artworks by Kukkapuro’s contemporaries and present-day artists, including Timo Aalto, Jacob Dahlgren, Beryl Furman, Esa Laurema, Vladimir Kopteff, Kristian Krokfors, Matti Kujasalo, Jussi Niva, Lars-Gunnar Nordström, Kristiina Nyrhinen, Tarja Pitkänen-Walter, Airi Snellman-Hänninen, Mari Sunna and Osmo Valtonen.

The exhibition also includes works by Kukkapuro’s most important inspiration – his spouse, the graphic artist Irmeli Kukkapuro (1934–2022).

Yrjö Kukkapuro – Magic Room exhibition, EMMA
In 1998, Kukkapuro designed a chair model with the intent to showcase the work of different artists and illustrators.
Yrjö Kukkapuro – Magic Room exhibition, EMMA
Many of Kukkapuro’s early designs are still in production today.
Yrjö Kukkapuro – Magic Room exhibition, EMMA
The Karuselli lounge chair is one of Kukkapuro’s most famous works.

Most of the artworks featured in the exhibition are curated from EMMA’s own collection by the museum’s in-house team: Museum Director Pilvi Kalhama and Curators Inka Laine and Tuomas Laulainen.

The Kukkapuro exhibition is not the only design-themed exhibition on display at EMMA. The exhibition’s opening coincides with three other major exhibitions that highlight connections between art and design: Tapio Wirkkala – Form, Collection Kakkonen and Bryk & Wirkkala Visible Storage.

Yrjö Kukkapuro – Magic Room exhibition is on display until 28 January 2024. Espoo Museum of Modern Art, Exhibition Centre WeeGee, Ahertajantie 5, Tapiola, Finland.

See also:

Yrjö Kukkapuro products at Finnish Design Shop >
Read the story: Yrjö Kukkapuro’s studio is a source of limitless inspiration >

Edit: Nora Uotila Images: Paula Virta / EMMA

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