Finnish Nature and its Influence on Design

June 27, 2019

By Monika Tuominen.

Monika has joined Koepala as a summer intern. Her passions include design, sustainability and nature. Over the course of the summer Monika will be writing a series of pieces on sustainable design and her time with us at Koepala. We hope you enjoy her writing!

It's no secret that most of us Finns have a special place in our hearts for nature. Just imagine being a foreigner who’s taking their first steps on Finnish ground after exiting the airplane. You're instantly greeted by birch tree themed wallpapers, large windows that let in natural light and an abundance of green plants. When you go to the toilet, you’ll feel like you’re doing your business in an actual forest due to speakers playing back birds singing. Consequently, it is difficult to miss what has had the largest influence on Finnish design.

Northern people have been blessed with thousands of lakes and forest to spend time in. Since we've been constantly exposed to nature from such a young age, we’ve developed a strong connection with it. The more nature related something is, the more trustworthy and pleasant it will seem to us. Simply put, they feel like home. It is apparent that various designers have taken advantage of this and started heavily basing their designs on the nature around us to spark our interest.

 So how does the nature affect Finnish design? The first thing you’ll notice, is the colour palette. It mostly consists of colours you can see in the Northern wilderness. The white resembles the snowy hills and the fluffy clouds above us. The blue represents our clean lakes reflecting our bright blue skies. The greens and yellows remind us of the landscapes of the countryside.

 Another thing you’ll notice is the simplicity. Take a look at the designs of Alvar Aalto and Marimekko for example. There are no complex patterns nor flashy details. Their designs are primarily focused on attractive shapes. This can surprisingly also be traced back to nature.

It’s biologically integrated into our brains to find certain types of shapes more appealing than others. Back in the day, it was beneficial for us to pick the roundest fruits or hunt the elks with the most proportionate horns. Looking at nature’s shapes was the easiest way for us to know that if we were looking at a healthy individual thus liking the correct shapes was necessary in survival.

 Then there’s wood. And I mean a lot of wood. It’s a widely used material and texture in Finnish products and architecture. It’s not even hard to believe. We’ve got so much of it! Besides, our love towards nature has made ecology a big part of the user experience in all sorts of design. Lucky for us, in addition to wood being a good looking and convenient material, it’s also renewable and sustainable. Finland can definitely benefit from being experienced in using it.

The awareness that the Finns and many others have towards the environment has given Koepala and multiple other startups like us an opportunity to even exist in the first place. With the right kind of attitude, we can spread that awareness and the convenience of beautiful and sustainable design worldwide.

🌍 🌼

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