Lapland Arctic Design debuts at Milan Design Week

The University of Lapland exhibited at Milan Design Week, with an interactive design exhibition entitled ‘Vaana’, an interactive space created by design students from the Faculty of Art and Design in collaboration with The Naked Approach research project.

The Milan Design Week is the world’s leading design event, and participation there is a dream for many designers.

Last year, the event accepted less than 10% of applicants.

"Being accepted to Milan Design Week is a great achievement, and we have worked hard for this. For students, this is an important opportunity to show their talent, but also to learn about the quality level of other institutes and studios. The event brings international visibility for the University of Lapland, as well as to Rovaniemi as an arctic design city,” said the supervising professor Jonna Häkkilä.

Arctic Design is one of the strategic spearheads of the University of Lapland.

The keystones of Arctic Design are scarcity and minimalism. Vaana (Northern Sámi: sparseness) is inspired by the few remaining rays of light during the polar winter, which embody the stark forms of the surroundings. In this time of darkness, even the dimmest colours seem brighter and inspiration is sought from the tiniest details. In the breaking of the polar winter, rays of lights emerge, and snow and ice melt. The exhibition introduces an interactive Arctic experience through the lens of design, combining traditional and modern elements.

Vaana uses conventional design materials, such as wood and reindeer leather, but introduces also wearable technology and printed electronics solar cells as part of the exhibition pieces.

What is Vaana exactly? The designers’ group said “we  wanted to show a side of Lapland that is different from Santa Claus and reindeers. Winters are long and freezing and short summers can be quite chilly. During the darkest time of the year the daylight lasts for only two hours and during summer the sun doesn’t set at all. We live in a absurd environment where everything can’t survive.”

“But when you look closely, life here is extremely beautiful; the restless and yet calm nightless nights during summer and the multicolored bright fall days. During silent polar nights our whole world is sleeping under a blanket of snow and spring is filled with sunlight and the noise of multiple small brooks rushing to wake everyone up. Life here is a constant journey. Nature is in a state of constant transformation, already in the current season but still en route to the next.”

“Nature is something that we could not live without. Nature, forest and wood is what we have used originally when creating our infrastructure, culture and identity. Wood, traditional Finnish construction material is insulating and thus protective from the coldness. It is typically sculpted into stiff and rigid forms, when the actual source, forest, is ignored in design. Trees, before sculpting, remind us of the nature’s impact on our surroundings. Polar night makes our surroundings seem scarce, but the trees and rich forests illustrate our unlit landscape. The trees have been the source of inspiration to the Lappish people for thousands of years.”

“These are the key elements that inspired us in the beginning of Vaana’s journey. Our rigid seasons and nature are an endless source of inspiration for us and through technology we can show a little piece of it to the world”.

 In the furniture exhibitions, Vaana presented interactive furniture and decoration trough minimalistic, Lappish design. The Naked Project and a variety of talented design students from University of Lapland are currently helping bring this message outside. Through interactive means the team can present the beauty of 8 seasons to the world.

Vaana exhibition was presented at Milan Design Week, Ventura Lambrate,

Instagram: @vaana2017