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Glass structures resembling apartment buildings.
Markku Salo, Kuninkaiden laakso [Valley of the Kings], 1988. Nuutajärvi. Photo: Jean Barbier. Postmodernism 1980–1995 @Designmuseo.

Postmodernism at the Design Museum in Helsinki, Pop Art at Emma in Espoo

“Less is a bore”? The Design Museum in Helsinki currently presents postmodern design and ideology in its spring exhibition Postmodernism 1980–1995. The show, which bravely tackles the recent history of Finnish design, focuses mainly on domestic furniture design, design objects and visual art. Postmodern architecture is presented only casually. The sole architectural exhibit is the architectural model of a day-care centre in Toppelund, Espoo, by Simo and Käpy Paavilainen; architectural thinking is presented with a singular, critical quote from modernist architect Aarno Ruuvuori published in the magazine Taide [Art] in 1988. Curators Salla Heino and Harry Kivilinna discuss the colourful and cheerful creation of postmodern form also against a backdrop of some of the iconic designs by the Italian Memphis group.

A valuable angle on the Finnish design of the 1980s opens up from the video interviews produced exclusively for the exhibition. Five influential figures from the short but ardent postmodern era (Leena-Maija Rossi, art historian and scholar in gender research; Kimmo Sarje, critic and artist; Rita Taskinen, interior architect; Inka Kivalo, textile artist; and Martin Relander, interior architect) give the exhibition a personal touch as they share their recollections about the developments that took place in the 1980s. The exhibition is also supplemented with lectures, discussions and other parallel events.

During spring 2015, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA will also focus on the recent history of art and design. Arriving at Tapiola, Espoo, from the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany, the Pop Art Design exhibition is aptly timed: Pop Art in the 1950s–60s was one of the key triggers towards the development of postmodernism in the 1970s.

Postmodernism 1980–1995, Design Museum, Helsinki, 19.1.–17.5.2015

Pop Art Design, Emma – Espoo Museum of Modern Art, 18.2.–10.5.2015