Why snow has an important role in Finnish design

Why snow has an important role in Finnish design

Snow is magical and mysterious, and in Finland, we have a lot of it. No wonder, then, that snow is a great source of inspiration for Finnish designers.

Snow has always been central to Finns. Our design and technologies have a lot to do with snow and everything related to it. Snow is also embedded in our culture and ways of thinking. From the day a Finn is born, they become familiar with expressions and folklore inspired by snow. Back in the days, people tried to foresee when first snow will fall, how much it will snow, and when snow will melt away – based on the cues given by Mother Nature. The aim was to predict what the harvest would be like in the following summer. Even before Finns began practicing agriculture, they were living off the land, hunting and picking berries in the woods. Back then, snow was used to build shelters to provide warmth and protection from the cold winter weather. Therefore, the Finns have a long history in moulding snow into incredible designs and designing tools to mould snow.

Tough design requirements

Snow takes different forms from powder to slush. It can be unbelievably solid when it’s frozen or wet and sticky when the temperature reaches zero Celsius degrees or above. The many states of snow set high requirements for all the items that are designed to work in snowy surroundings. Quality, practicality, and durability are the qualities which Finnish products are known for. Apart from setting requirements, snow provides inspiration. Snow warmly embraces the nature while covering everything in white, bringing harmony and softening sharp edges. Softness and warmth are also something Finns seek to have inside their houses during the winter. Finns tend to favour light colours, round shapes and high-quality materials in their interior designs.

One of the most popular materials is wood. That’s no surprise when thinking about the history of the Finns, and the fact that Finland has more forest than any other country in Europe. Trees are pieces of art on their own, but they do come in many shapes and forms when turned into design items. For instance, Sani Miekkala Taideakustointi’s line has an acoustics panel which design is inspired by pinewood. The panel not only muffles sound, but also works as a statement piece for a room; not unlike a painting. Only your imagination is the limit when creating art from wood. Wood has been used as a material for things like clothing and chewing gum. Also, paper is made of wood and it’s a versatile material, for example Paperivalo Ky has a line of interior lamps with lampshades made out of paper. Aarikka’s take on lampshades uses small wooden balls resembling snowballs to form the lampshades. The snowball motif is repeated in many Aarikka designs.

Snow as a business

As Finland can have snow up to six months a year, it’s a huge defining factor for the Finnish lifestyle. Many businesses revolve around snow in fields like fashion, sports, and tourism. We have a variety of winter sports from downhill skiing to husky sledding that attract tourists to visit every year. Have you ever dreamt of getting married in a snow castle? Did you know it’s possible to build a functioning sauna out of ice? Finland is famous for having castles, restaurants, saunas, and hotels made of snow and ice build every winter. Lonely Planet ranked Finland to be the third best travel destination in 2017, being the only country from Europe to make it to top ten. Finland is also one of the top countries when it comes to winter sports. Not only when talking about the athletes but also in the field of the technologies and equipment required by the sports. The Finnish know-how has been recognised by other countries too, and Finland has been consulting in many projects such as helping to build ice hockey rinks to China for the Beijing 2022 Olympics.

Did you know every snowflake is unique? Snowflakes look like tiny stars, and when they join forces in a form of pure snow blanket on a sunny day, the view is breath taking. They reflect sunlight, making it look like the ground is covered in billions of diamonds. Finns love their beautiful surroundings so much that on average, a Finn spends time outdoors two to three times per week. There’s no better place to escape the everyday life and charge your batteries than the Finnish nature. Finland is a sparsely populated country so you have plenty of space to find a peaceful spot for relaxing and enjoying the calmness. Finnish nature and snow have left their forever lasting marks on Finnish design. Can you spot the influences in your favourite Finnish design items?