Last week the Suvilahti complex hosted the Everyday Discoveries exhibition, as part of the World Design Capital program. The exhibition’s aim was to showcase new design ideas and concepts that are (or will be) used daily in different countries around the world. As Suvilahti is just around the corner from our place, we quickly popped in to check it out…

Suvilahti is an old gas-fueled power plant that’s been used for a variety of business and arts functions since the early 2000’s (including massive music festivals), and now has lots of big industrial spaces for events. It is definitely a striking venue – especially on a beautiful blue-skied autumn day.

Suvilahti’s old gas storage tank

In the Kattilahalli several countries had individual stands (including Japan and France), but there were also two “joint” exhibitions. The first of those was a long multicultural banquet table running down the centre of the venue, where each place was set using crockery, cutlery, glasses and a chair from a different country. Even though South Africa was not one of the main exhibitors at Everyday Discoveries, we did still have a place at the table (including a Haldane Martin Zulu Mama cafe chair). South Africa was placed next to Finland at the table which we thought was quite nice.  The other combined display was especially for kids – at both ends of the hall there were children’s books from around the world. What was really cool was that each book was stored on an oversized shelf decorated with a giant replica of the book’s cover. Bean bag chairs were provided so that readers could enjoy their chosen book in comfort. Again SA was represented – “Bonsai and Geronimo go to the park” written by Jean Weinstein and illustrated by Julia Anastasopoulos is a short story about two dogs that learn not to trust strangers. The book is also available as an interactive iPad app for only $2 which seems like a good deal to me!

The South African and Finnish settings at the international banquet table

There were many very interesting objects on display – including French interior paint that could function as a switch (i.e. just touch the wall to turn on the lights) and a seal-shaped babygrow from Iceland.

One of the brightest table settings

On Suvilahti’s event field (the “Energiakenttä” = “energy field”) some countries were displaying their exhibits in brightly-painted shipping containers. This included Ireland – their project consisted of “tagging” various features around Helsinki with large red wooden tags displaying quotes by foreigners living in the city. I’d actually see one of these tags earlier in the day on the railway bridge near Toololahti, so it was nice to find out what it was about. The Norwegian display was quite special – two large wooden sculptures, including a see-saw bridge that moved like a wave as people crossed it. But definitely the highlight for me was the Plant Tram, a interlinked set of wooden troughs at different heights planted with all sorts of edible plants. The project was a collaboration between the  London-based Wayward Plants and a local environmental organisation, Dodo – very cool!

The Plant Tram

In the adjacent Tiivistämö building the US was showcasing an interesting type of play-park constructed from large high-density foam blocks – what’s really unique is that the kids get to build there own (fairly large and complex) park with these Lego-like blocks.


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