This week in Helsinki saw the opening of the International Design House Exhibition, a World Design Capital 2012 signature event, titled Everyday Discoveries. Housed in Helsinki's old power station, Kattilahalli - and extending into an outdoor shipping container village and urban gardening installation in surrounding Suvilahti - the exhibition showcases the best examples of design solutions from 23 countries, created by over 100 designers.
South African designs feature prominently in the core exhibition, which is divided into six themes: icon, innovation, invisible, re-interpretation, imagination and get-together.
Up-and-coming young Eastern Cape knitwear designer Laduma Ngxokolo’s Xhosa-inspired sweaters share the ‘icon’ category with everything from Le Corbusier’s chaise-lounge to the Rubik’s Cube. The Hippo Water Roller is displayed in the ‘innovation’ category alongside hi-tech designs including a toilet that automatically composts waste and recycles water, while an installation of Dolos breakwater protection blocks shares the ‘invisible’ category with items like energy-efficient light bulbs and Italy’s classic stove-top coffee maker.
Cape Town's pooch paradise, De Waal Park, features in the 'imagination' section via the illustrated children's book and innovative iPad app, Bonsai and Geronimo Go To The Park. In the 're-interpretation' exhibit, an elegant ceramic vessel by Andile Dyalvane of Imiso Ceramics references Xhosa scarification marks, with red markings sliced into the bone-coloured ceramic flesh.
The core exhibition is curated around a central spine featuring an impressive 20-metre long dining table that brings together all the featured countries, hence the title 'get-together'. Here, Haldane Martin's Zulu Mama chair is paired with Cape Town ceramicist Louise Gelderblom's giant etched plates and 100% recycled glassware, designed by Source's Trevyn McGowan and chef Reuben Riffel for Ngwenya Glass.
The International Design House Everyday Discoveries exhibition runs from 6 to 16 September 2012, coinciding with Helsinki Design Week, and is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors and press from across the globe. Discover more on the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 website.
Images and text by Lianne Burton