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22.10.2020

Finnish Society of Crafts and Design 145 years

At the end of October in 1875 a group of socially active persons organized a meeting in Helsinki.

The aim of the meeting was to create a structure for promoting and enhancing craft skills and competencies in Finland. There was a craft school, founded in 1871, which gave vocational education in industrial arts. There also was a collection of artefacts, purchased in Vienna in 1873 as models and sources of inspiration. Now, a society was founded, for managing both the school and the collection.

As time passed, the operations of the society proved to be successful. In 1887 the society was involved in the construction of the Ateneum building, of which it then owned more than a half. The activities of the school evolved, the collection was growing as the Finnish industries were developing. In 1933 the first showing in the Milan Triennial was arranged; after WWII, the society had a decisive input in creating the concept of Finnish Design.

For a long time, the focus was on applied art but gradually new target areas of design came along, starting with industrial design. In addition to organizing exhibitions, operations targeted at industries utilizing design were launched. Books and magazines were published; companies were guided in making use of design.

In 1987 an organization named Design Forum was founded; in 1991 it was wholly transferred under the society and the word “Finland” was added to the name.

The collection of craft items and artefacts was the starting point of the present-day Design Museum. The craft school evolved, after several names and development stages, to a University of Industrial Arts and is today a part of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture of the Aalto University.

The Finnish Society of Crafts and Design (Suomen Taideteollisuusyhdistys – Konstflitföreningen i Finland / Design Forum Finland) is the second oldest design promotion organization in the world. In it lie the roots of Finnish design. Not a small achievement.

More history here

Photo: Finnish section at Triennale di Milano in 1954