Ladies and gentlemen,
I am truly delighted to be here today addressing the second seminar on Finnish design organized by Istanbul Technical University, Department of Industrial Design, together with the Embassy of Finland in Turkey. The Department of Industrial Design has for years had a fruitful and rewarding dialogue with the Embassy and also with the University of Art and Design Helsinki. The Department of Industrial Design participated in the Only Planet project of Nokia last year and the contact between Nokia designers and Istanbul Technical University is continuing hopefully well into the future.
Finland has for years been listed in international surveys as one of the most competitive countries and Helsinki is said to belong to the most creative cities in the world. The top 25 economies ranked by competitiveness by World Economic Forum are also the most efficient users of design. In Finland the importance of design is recognised as an essential element in innovation, creativity and competitiveness of our economy.
Apart from the economy design is important in cultural terms in creating the national and individual identity. Design can also be a part of the memory and history of a nation. For us the concept 'Finnish design' has become almost a national symbol - practically a synonym for an entire historical period that covers post-war reconstruction and the development of a Nordic welfare state.
It represents the bridge between the traditional and the modern and the attempt to bring beauty into everyday life. Industry played its role in the process by accepting affordable utility wares for serial production alongside expensive unique works of art. Ordinary homes acquired objects which elsewhere would have been regarded as elitist specialities. 'Finnish design against throwawayism' is nowadays a well-known slogan of one of the leading companies in Finland that makes extensive use of design in its products. The products of this company can be seen in ordinary Finnish homes.
Finland is known for classic designs and shapes inspired by Northern lights, colors and nature. Finnish design is about sincerity, modesty and being yourself. Finnish reputation for original and practical design has its roots in a rural lifestyle where necessity was the mother of invention. Modern Finnish designers have come up with the mixture of graceful and sophisticated forms that serve basic everyday functions. Today Finnish designers work globally, not only for the Finnish companies.
In recent years there has been a growing interest and investment in design among Turkish companies. Turkish design is being recognized abroad as well. Istanbul must belong to the most creative cities in the world today.
I hope you enjoy the exhibition 'Cool dozen +'- chair and textile prints from Finland, which can be visited in the exhibition hall. It is a small but representative sample of energetic and innovative Finnish design, and it contains a couple of classics as well.
I am very grateful to the University for hosting the exhibition and the seminar. I would particularly like to thank Professor özlem Er for her efforts in realizing this seminar and Mr. Ahmet Zeki Turan and Ms. Cigdem Kaya for their valuable contributions as well.
I wish you a rewarding seminar and innovative exchanges.