When good design builds networks to overcome inequalities: Anders Byriel, a man of business and thinking, anticipates the contents of his speech at Helsinki Design Week
From September 8 to 17 the Finnish capital hosts the Helsinki Design Week 2023, the Nordic event dedicated to design in all its forms.
Of all the design weeks, the Finnish one is decidedly the roundest: for clarity of thought - which flows from the discipline into all dimensions of living, domestic and urban -, for capacity for vision — which from local evidence projects us on a global scale.
What will be staged at Helsinki Design Week 2023, from the Habitare trade fair to events in the city, is a program of talks, events and installations involving places, companies and protagonists active in the field.
And the word 'together' is the starting point.
In difficult times like the ones we're going through, it's important to shore up a sense of community. "Forge and consolidate strong ties, be courageous to take risks together", say Anna Pirkola and Kirsikka Simberg of Studio Plenty, in charge of the fair's main exhibition project. “Because we know that there are those who are weaker than us and who need us”, and our thoughts turn to war refugees, Ukrainians and climate refugees, from North Africa. And the Russian interference and the coup d'état in Niger, just to stay on the strict summer topicality.
"We need to strengthen hope, cultivate empathy and promote a new activism: everyone's goal is to strongly believe that we are part of a global community that breathes at the same pace".

At Helsinki Design Week 2023, Habitare revolves around the concept of 'Togetherness'

A necessary principle that guides the understanding of the contrasts generated by our time. It is a theme that is both challenging and takes into account the ambitions of the European way of life: we are rich and we have the ability to welcome those who are not.

But generosity calls for responsibility: our way of life pollutes the planet and fuels inequalities. A short circuit that does not dilute the climate crisis, rages on biodiversity, undermines the safety of our lives.

Acting together, respecting ourselves and nature, is the only way we can survive. This, and more around this, will be discussed at Helsinki Design Week 2023, already at the opening of Habitare.

Among the most anticipated events, the launch of the Mifuko & Latimmier (c/o Hämeentie 130 A, Helsinki): a story within a story. Because if the home collections of the first are the result of a collaboration between over 1,300 artisans in rural areas of Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana and Finnish designers, the second (the prêt-à-porter brand launched in 2022 by designer Ervin Latimer ), has its roots in queer culture: design becomes an instrument of connection between two different stories of marginalization and exclusion, to define new aesthetic codes.

Bridge projects are virtuous examples

“It is important to reflect on how and where to operate. For example, if we think of wool, the basic material of Mifuko and Latimmier collections, we must make sure it is not wasted", says Anders Byriel.

The CEO of the historic Danish company, with the speech In search for the artistic and the technological bounderies, (13/09 h 15.00), explains to us that a production process is in harmony with the environment when it is zero kilometer and respects man and all living species. “We weave products in the UK with wool from the UK.

In our Norwegian manufacturing plant we are using Norwegian wool, and in Italy we have just introduced Sardinian wool carpets. Although in the past this material seemed to have lost its appeal, today it is considered sustainable in all respects.

And it seems it could actually compete with recycled polyester”, concludes the analysis and then relaunches: “It is certain that since we humans are now more than 8 billion, it would be important for our survival to start reflecting on the concepts of biodiversity  and coexistence”, as if to say that even a couple of hundred million sheep, and other animals, are necessary to keep the ecosystem in balance.

The past

If it is true that until 2019 our world appeared to us stable, solid, secure "Covid has made our certainties waver: the state of 'mental health' of the world seems to waver ... the barbarians are upon us and the climate meltdown is becoming a reality. We desperately need to be together in different ways and plans,” he ruled without appeal.

Therefore, design has the task of building all the connections necessary to repair the nature evoked by Paola Antonelli: "Union for me means making room for all those who want to take action for the good of the community".

The present

"It is desirable to immediately find a better balance between living in the city and living in the countryside, because this is certainly the first path to sustainability" reflects Byriel.

"To then give shape to the third dimension: the one in which there can no longer be beauty without a 100% green approach", says in a slightly provocative way he himself who promotes aesthetic codes with his company very refined.

“Kvadrat's ability to explore the boundaries between art and technology has made possible new bio-based synthetic materials that can replace traditional oil-based ones,” but also temperature memory fabrics, "to be worn in space, where we will soon arrive". Together beyond the edge of the universe.

The future

In the interior design project, fibers and fabrics will be the new 'fundamentals' (to quote Koolhaas).

“We are witnessing the birth of a movement that builds and composes space in a nomadic and impermanent way. In this dimension, the fabric — made of color and tactility, together with sound, light and heat — becomes a very powerful controlling element of living”. Deconstructing to rebuild new soft architectures is the new mission: "a fascinating and low-impact vision", concludes Anders Byriel.

And always, unquestionably, community-friendly.