Young designers in Paris 1990: Concours international des jeunes créateurs de mode

Exhibition of student works from Aalto University Archives at Harald Herlin Learning Centre, VRC, 1.-28.10.2019

Concours international des jeunes créateurs de mode 1990. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

The international young designers competition in Paris had over 10 000 drawing submissions in 1990. Only 125 outfits were selected for entering the competition. The jury included top designers and representatives of the international press including Kenzo, Sonia Rykiel and Paco Rabanne. The jury selected the best designs from each country; from Finland’s University of Art and Design the winner was Anu Ratia’s organza outfit displayed in the exhibition video and original drawings.

Anu Ratia: Yachting. Jacket, shorts Materials: thai silk, silk organza. Concours international des jeunes créateurs de mode 1990. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

The images, drawings and competition show video are from the Aalto University Archive’s collection. The theme of the competition was to create an outfit that would reflect the « national spirit of the country ». The outfit would be used by a public figure that is an artistic, brave woman who is participating a sporting event held at the capital of the country at 3 pm.

The sponsor and main organiser of the competition was Air France.

The Archives hold a collection of fashion designs and competition outfits that can be explored in Aalto-Finna.

Sirpa Ryynänen: L’eau et la Roche. Concours International des Jeunes Createurs de Mode 1990. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.


Surface and pattern: works by textile art students

Exhibition of textile art student works from 1980-1990s at Harald Herlin Learning Centre, VRC, 19.8.-27.9.2019

Anita Larna-Helkiö: vaalea pinta. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

The design of the printed or woven textile was a key focus for the students or textile art in 1980-1990s. The exhibition displays exercises for patterns, colour schemes and tactile surfaces for indoor textiles such as wallpapers, curtains and carpets. The exercises were to a great extent hand-painted or crafted from carefully chosen materials.

Kirsi Niinimäki: Yö, pintatehtävä, 1986. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

The nature of the works is sometimes closer to artistic expression creating a close connection between visual art and industrial textile design.

Textile art students in class. Aalto University Archives. CC-BY.

Anna-Maija Aalto: [untitled]. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

CAD-software and the computer soon became an aid in the design of patterns and colourings. The first diploma works on computer aided design in textile art were made in mid 1980s.

Student working on knitwear pattern. Aalto University Archives. CC-BY.

The student works and images are part of the collections of Aalto University Archives.


Porcelain painting for treasures of Arabia

Exhibition of porcelain painting student work at Harald Herlin Learning Centre, VRC

Porcelain decoration class at Ateneum, 1938-1939. Aalto University Archives. CC-BY.

The teaching of porcelain painting began in the Craft School in 1878 just a few years after the Arabia factory began operation. The teaching of “Flower drawing and painting for porcelain and textiles” began in the direction of Fanny Lundahl who had studied in Copenhagen and Paris. Co-operation with Arabia factory soon concentrated on the decoration of porcelain objects and from 1930s the porcelain painting department focused almost entirely on the Arabia factory’s needs.

Porcelain painting, three cups, two saucers from 1950s. Aalto University Archives. CC-BY.

The exhibition at Harald Herlin Learning Centre displays student decoration designs from Aalto University Archives especially for the Greta Lisa Jäderholm-Snellman’s OC mocha cup.

Esteri Tomula. 1945-1946. Decoration for a cup, saucer and coffee pot. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

Some student decoration drawings are also displayed from post-war 1944-1946 classes. The designers include Aalto University alumni such as Esteri Tomula and Erik Bruun. In post-war years the Central School of Industrial Arts suffered severely from lack of space, materials and equipment. Porcelain painting was taught until 1960s after which it merged with the teaching of ceramics.­­­



Villa Cuccuu – interior design drawings by Ilmari Tapiovaara

Ilmari Tapiovaara studied at the interior design department of the Institute of Industrial Art in 1934-1937, predecessor of the School of Art, Design and Architecture at Aalto University.

Aalto University Archives hold some of Tapiovaara’s student works and has opened an exhibition at the Harald Herlin Learning Centre, VRC, (1st floor), 21.2. – 31.3.2019.

Tapiovaara’s student card mentions him studying composition drawing, furniture drawing, ornament drawing, typography and heraldics, projection drawing and architectural art. The drawings exhibited are are an example of just one work prepared by Tapiovaara during his studies. The work contains interior designs for the rooms of a villa habitable during winter including furniture designs for each room.

Ilmari Tapiovaara. Villa Cuccuu floor plan. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

Tapiovaara explains that the interior design is intended for a wealthier family of five that can afford keeping a winter cottage including running water for bathroom and heating costs. All space is economically used however, there are only two bedrooms; the youngest son and visitors will sleep in the living and dining rooms. The space has custom designed furniture and unique storage solutions that maximise the living area for the family.

Ilmari Tapiovaara. Villa Cuccuu, kitchen and dining room. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.


Jac Ahrenberg’s sketch books

Johan Jacob “Jac” Ahrenberg (1847 Vyborg – 1914 Helsinki) was a Finnish architect, painter and writer. Aalto University’s Archive has just digitized a collection of Ahrenberg’s work from two sketch folders, including Ahrenberg’s drawings, paintings, photographs and prints. The sketchbooks will be available soon in Aalto-Finna’s archive materials.

Jac Ahrenberg. Photograph: Adolf Ecksteins Verlag, Daniel Nyblin. CC-BY. National Board of Antiquities /

Ahrenberg graduated from Stockholm´s Royal Academy of Fine Arts – School of Architecture in 1875. In 1877-1886, Ahrenberg worked as an architect in the the board of public buildings (in Finnish: Yleisten rakennusten ylihallitus) and as county architect in Oulu (1884-1885) and in Vyborg (1885-1886). He was appointed as chief intendant in 1910. Ahrenberg was conservative in architecture and supported C.L. Engel’s classicism. He also represented a classical academic tradition in state administration. Ahrenberg designed several public buildings, interiors and restorations.

Jac Ahrenberg. Page from a sketch book. Public Domain. Aalto University Archives.

Ahrenberg was also a productive writer, painter and art critic. He worked in art associations, lectured on art and wrote literary and visual art criticism in several Finnish newspapers. He was a member of the Finnish Society of Crafts and Design, was one of the founders of The Friends of Finnish Handicraft, acted as artistic advisor at Arabia and designed interiors, furniture and artifacts for the industrial art exhibitions. Ahrenberg also taught drawing and art history at the Polytechnical Institute (later the Helsinki University of Technology, current Aalto University).

Jac Ahrenberg. Page from a sketchbook. Public Domain. Aalto University Archives.

Jac Ahrenberg. Page from a sketch book. Public Domain. Aalto University Archives.


Yki Nummi: designer of light and colour

Exhibition of original designs and drawings from Aalto University Archives

The exhibition displays the designer Yki Nummi (1925-1984) lamp design drawings, sketches and colour schemes.

Yki Nummi 1961-1962 at Orno design company located at Stockmann, Helsinki.
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Thorn-Orno collection, Kerava museum /

Yki Nummi VRC

Yki Nummi: “Practical lamp”- design. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved

Nummi began his career in 1950’s straight from the Central School of Industrial Art at the Orno design company. His special material was lamps made from perspex, or acrylic plastic, which was lightweight and refracted light beatifully. He eliminated everything unnecessary or decorative from the lamp, favouring simple geometric shapes such as spheres, cones and cylinders.

Yki Nummi: “Practical lamp”- design. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved

Nummi has designed many familiar Finnish lamps such as the Lokki and Kurki. His Modern Art lamp was chosen to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Yki Nummi: “Modern Art” – design. Stockmann-Orno.
CC-BY. Helsinki City Museum

In addition to being an expert of light he was also an expert colourist. From 1970’s Nummi concentrated on colour design and was the head of  the planning department of Tikkurila paint factory. He first developed the Jokeri colour scheme containing 144 colours.

Aalto University Archives hold the private collection of Yki Nummi comprising the exhibited original drawings, colour schemes and an extensive collection of documentation about his life work.

Yki Nummi. Portrait photograph. Aalto University Archives. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

The exhibition is open 24.9. – 16.11.2018 at Harald Herlin Learning Centre, VRC, 1st Floor

See more Yki Nummi’s work in Aalto-Finna


Industrial textile art

Industrial textile art from 1970-1990s get catalogued and exhibited

Aalto University Archives have been cataloguing and digitising some new collections that have been donated to the archives alongside the Arabia Campus closure and move to the new Väre building in Otaniemi. Among them is a special collection of over 200 student works from the Department of Textile Art from 1970s to 1990s. The collection includes woollen and cotton fabric designs intended for interior and furniture textiles, some printed and clothing fabrics and material experimentations. They highlight especially the skill required in understanding materials, colour and texture as well as the technology of textile industries.

Virpi Syrjä: Huonekalukankaita, kudottujen kankaiden suunnittelu. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

In order to organise the collection for future use each work has been photographed, grouped and catalogued to a basic coherent standard where each work can be searched for in a database. All archived objects receive the same basic treatment; a piece of textile art is treated the same way as much of the visual collections in the archive. The database information will also later be harvested into the Aalto-Finna search service’s Archive materials so that users can find the the objects with key words such as student name, title, type of textile etc. Due to the tactile nature of the works, the works will probably be viewed in their original format as physical objects by researchers, therefore they are preserved and protected in acid free archival storage material and kept in climate controlled premises to help ensure their condition in the future.

Digitising textile art by Marika Sarvilahti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Markku Piri: Meri – sistustuskangas. 1978. Aalto University Archives. All rights reserved.

A small exhibition has been arranged of the works at the Visual Resources Centre (VRC) at the Harald Herlin Learning Centre, Otaniementie 9.