Three perspectives on the future of design

The candidates for the 2019 Ornamo Award look to the future of their respective fields.

The candidates for the 2019 Ornamo Award are visionaries of design. In addition to a business-oriented mindset, they share an interest in materials and life-cycle thinking. The winner of the Ornamo Award will be announced on 5 December at Musiikkitalo Helsinki Music Centre.

Maija Arela knows that white is becoming a luxury colour

Textile designer Maija Arela is known not only as the founder of the family-owned Arela, famous for its sustainable fashion, but also for her work in the International Colour Consortium.

The International Colour Consortium discusses world politics and topical themes. “First there is an ideas meeting which does not involve any colours. We bring newspaper articles and talk about films we have watched or books we have read. These are turned into themes. At the next meeting, the themes are paired with colours,” explains Maija Arela, member of the Colour Consortium. The colours are reproduced on a colour chart which will determine the street fashion trends in a couple of years.

“As we always design colours two years ahead, we need to think about what people will see in the future. For example, the discussion on climate change has long been reflected in the Consortium. Green has been dubbed the new black.” Arela knows that white is becoming a luxury colour as recycled materials have made browns fashionable.

Summer and winter colours are no longer separated as clearly as before. The Colombians, for example, have never made any distinction between the two. Tastes in different countries still differ. “In Germany, Italy and France, men are comfortable sporting more pastel colours, whereas in Finland, men still avoid them.”

Ville Kokkonen tracks Finnish innovations

Industrial designer Ville Kokkonen carries out futuristic, ecological design projects in his own company, conducts research in materials development and teaches at Aalto University.

All research and development related to environmental friendliness and sustainable use of materials is important and interesting,” says Kokkonen.

“Finland has enormous forest resources, and UPM and Stora Enso are conducting significant research in the field. Some of it is not made public because of competition and because big companies do not take all ideas forward as they need to make short-term profit. These ideas could well turn into small businesses and small-scale operations without much need to grow into anything bigger,” Kokkonen continues.

“Light is another important topic. Finland is a forerunner in photonics. The University of Eastern Finland is developing some stunning applications used in information technology, materials development and the pharmaceutical industry. It has succeeded in printing 3D optoelectronics with nano precision. Lenses can now be produced with glass-like spectra by printing plastic. Possible applications range from medtech, smartphones and who-knows-what reading devices to space technology.”

Minna Peltomäki considers if it would be possible to make shoes from bananas or palm leaves

Shoe designer Minna Peltomäki is revising the Pomar brand by addressing the northern climate, ethical consumers and the ageing population.

“We are constantly on the lookout for new materials and experimenting with bananas, palm leaves and other potential materials for shoes. We have not yet found the quality that would withstand and function in our climate according to our demands,” says Peltomäki.

“Leather is a by-product of food. We don’t use skins from animals raised solely for this purpose. But if meat eating declines, as is likely, we must find alternative materials without compromising on the usability and durability of the footwear. The product must work in our climate and withstand use, or it does not serve the consumer,” continues Peltomäki.

Text: Tuula Toivio