13 Apr 2009, Posted by Travis Price in Guests from Washington D.C., 0 Comments
DAY 5– THURSDAY – Mikko, Irma-Riitta, Ami, Valeri, Susanna
This was a day less about “D”esign , but more as about the cultural powers behind design….my day is greeted by Mikko and our stopping at the harbor…. while grey , the landscape is full of a band of morning seekers headed to work, headed to meetings. In true fashion along the walk ways I see tour boats docked, ice breaking up from winter, the Byzantine church on the hill , the Aalto white box dead center…..( soon to be copied in a way as a new non contextual icon hit by Herzog and Demeuron ’s new hotel , the Swiss Ice Cube…. the orange tents are full of good cheer, good eats, and coffee, coffee, coffee… the elixir and antidote of dawn and grey skies….
I am greeted at a one of Helsinki’s classical joys, the Finnish Historical Society for my 2nd lesson on the great Kalevala, the mysterious mythical saga of Finnish lore…The doors open , the statue of Vainamoinen sits with an adoring maiden. I am greeted by Irma-Riitta who apologizes for the moving headaches during these days of recent renovations….I am immersed by her into the linear and non linear inquiries of the telling of the tale….We only begin to delve into what the Kalevala encompasses and the various ways of hearing, reading and comprehending its impact on the mythical seat of Finnish culture. I see great copies of the Kalevala, old , new intensely heavy versions as well as well, yes an infamous Donald Duck version. ….Later I see one at the airport for children , The Canine Kalevala…. Irma powers my mind with the pay dirt of spiritual and mythical inquiries….. somehow I have met the pensive and hearty trail of Finnish culture tickled by humor without hubris…. Irma delightfully guides me through recordings of the singing meter of the Kalevala….then a non stop talking walk to the bookstore and suddenly I am generously weighted down with books and tapes galore….I knew I had found the other half of myhelsinki quest, the myth that would guide my quest for the architecture of the modern Kalevala.
If this was a taste of ancient Finnish psyche, next my 2 hours with marketing genius Ami Hasan who invited me to jam on ideas after attending my lecture on the “Archaeology of Tomorrow”. Like Kari’s design world view, Ami walked me into a deeper understanding of the world of the living market for design as well as landscapes of Finland… the traditional Thursday green pea soup , bread hit the spot as did the hip creative atmosphere of open planning and funky design….and like everyone I met the idea of constructing a Sacred Sauna of the Kalevala lead to more and more suggestions and site dreams….
A slow step through Kampi….one of many massive blocks of indoor malls full of design and pedestrian mixed use projects that made Helsinki twice as big as it appears. The outer streets and inner realms of retail and housing are a rich stew of life, design, and commerce.
Even clearer , a full archaeological walk through at the Museum of Finnish history guided by graduate student , Valeri Saltikoff, opened my understandings of the recorded beginnings of Finland’s peoples migrating north, surviving snow, forging steel, living in the cold…. Sweden, Tsarist and Marxist Russia…therein were all the basic tools of the Kalevala including painted murals by Akseli Gallen-Kallela , all in the Castle of History…. I am beat and Susanna treats me to a quiet dinner… and design reigned again at a hip restaurant ,grotesk, modern mix, red chairs everywhere…a never ending delight of careful design from concept to endless details of design, forks, knives…lamps, veiled dividing walls…. and sleep!