• Design with a Smile

    REDDRESS by Aamu Song

    The world’s most accommodating dress: 550 metres of fabric, 20 metres in diameter and 238 pockets.

  • Two is Company

    ‘Company’ is a design collective formed by Johan Olin and Aamu Song, shown here waddling their stuff in Pinguwear.

  • Daniel Palillo

    The young unisex designer draws inspiration from cartoons, graveyards and his teen music heroes.

  • Never Mind

    No rosebuds or daffodils, thank you. Palillo’s spring collection has a distinctly Halloween feel.

  • Anu Penttinen

    The Australian-trained glass artist combines traditional techniques with a very contemporary design vocabulary.

  • Colourlicious

    Urban Sketch is from a collection of one-off vases featuring a palette never seen before in Finnish glass design.

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Design with a Smile

Out the window with highbrow minimalism – Finland’s emerging designers are putting the fun back into function with disarming humour.

“Wow” resounds through the room every time REDDRESS takes to the stage. This interactive installation by Aamu Song has received rave reviews everywhere it has toured. A singer performs in the dress while the audience snuggles up in its 238 pockets.

The same brand of witty conceptualism runs through everything designed by Song and creative partner Johan Olin: penguin suits, double-heeled shoes, beard warmers, fungus-shaped stools and other quirky items each guaranteed to raise a smile. If not always functional in the classic sense, they are designed to make you think. They challenge puritan Scandinavian tradition by posing a valid question: Isn’t fun part of function?

Eye candy

A similar exuberance is translated into glass by Anu Penttinen, whose eye-popping palette defies both logic and tradition. Best known as the creator of Socks Rolled Down, a collection of surreal tableware for design powerhouse Marimekko, she combines function and whimsy, layering her fluidly shaped pieces with a delectable coating of yummy colours.

The playful appearance of her latest one-off vases belies the intricate roll-up technique used in their production. Few glass designers hand-produce their own work, but Penttinen is a rare exception – she describes glass-blowing as “a really great workout”.

Gory couture

Vampire bunnies meet grinning skulls in Never Mind, the latest collection of contemporary street wear by rising fashion star Daniel Palillo. The collection shows his customary predilection for dark humour and morbid graphics, this time infused with a palette of screaming primary colours.

His unmistakable style features bold cut-outs, patchwork and eccentric three-dimensional structures, which he combines with darkly mischievous anarchic imagery. Palillo adds a playful edge to Finnish fashion – especially for those who like their humour on the grim side.


Cultural Beat

Contrast is the main ingredient in Finnish cultural life, probably because everything looks and sounds different from our northern perspective.