The Iconic and the Everyday: Creative Finland in America


The Iconic and the Everyday exhibition proposes an explicit condensed assertion of the contemporary presence and influence of Finnish design, industry and identity in the United States.

Project Statement

Project Statement

The Iconic and the Everyday exhibition ambition is to produce a composite understanding of the presence and strength of Finnish architecture, design and industry in the lives of everyday Americans – and to benefit both nations’ mutual appreciation and understanding. Creative Finland – Finnish architecture, design and industry – has been a strong presence in American culture, since at least the mid-twentieth century.

The most clearly “iconic” is the distilled exhibition of the primary architectural works Finnish architects have contributed to American life, either in built form or in projected form; the built works by Eliel Saarinen, Alvar Aalto, Eero Saarinen and Mikko Heikkinen and Markku Komonen have also become part of the “everyday” life of those who inhabit them. The most clearly “everyday” is the exhibition of the objects, tools, furniture, and implements of Finnish design and industrial production that populate and activate the daily lives of American citizens – a density of Finnish identity often without any acknowledgement. But these objects, too, possess an “iconic” character in the clarity and purposefulness of their design.

The exhibition’s installation components are lightweight, simply assembled, made primarily of wood, and suggestive of a landscape: a forested shoreline, perhaps. The iconic images of architecture are organized and incorporated into four panels punctuating the sinuous rhythm of the installation cabinets and shelves. The everyday objects of Finnish design and manufacture are composed into both singular and serial displays of the actual things – available for both the eye and the hand.

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