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David van der Leer will moderate a conversation with panelists Liza Chong, Joseph Grima, and Zeynep Falay von Flittner.
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David van der Leer and Maria Budtz Sorensen of DVDL at the location for the future museum in Helsinki's South Harbour.
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Foundation for Finnish Museum of Architecture and Design was established at the Helsinki City Hall.
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Makasiiniranta’s international competition entries published
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28.09.2022
Founding a New Institution: "What Is the River We Are Trying to Cross?"
David van der Leer (from left), Zeynep Falay von Flittner, Joseph Grima, Kaarina Gould, and Liza Chong on stage.


All photos: Anni Koponen
How the New Museum of Architecture & Design in Helsinki could best serve the community of professional designers and architects? The question was presented to the panelists Liza Chong, Joseph Grima, and Zeynep Falay von Flittner. The conversation was moderated by David van der Leer.

On Friday 9th September, the Foundation for the Finnish Museum of Architecture and Design hosted an open Helsinki Design Week event “New AD Museum & Open Design Professions”.

An early-bird crowd consisting of design professionals, academics, and students gathered for a breakfast in Think Corner, a meeting place across disciplines at the University of Helsinki.

Kaarina Gould, Project Director and CEO of the Foundation for the Finnish Museum of Architecture and Design, opened the event:

“The reason we are here today is simple. We are founding a new institution, and in this day and age it is a huge responsibility, a huge challenge, and a huge opportunity. We are entering a new era, and it is time to get radical. We want this museum to be relevant for many groups in many ways, but we especially want it to be relevant for the design and architecture community. We realise it is a time for change, and change doesn’t happen without dialogue. This event today is a part of that dialogue. We want to be a part of cultivating the professions.”

“The key is that, right now, most of our focus goes into thinking about the building, but we are not just building a new building. We are not making a spatial solution, we are founding a new institution. And that question is a big challenge, which we want to discuss with you today”, Gould concluded.

After Gould, the stage was given to David van der Leer, a curator-turned-cultural-strategist who runs an agency called DVDL, based in New York and Amsterdam. DVDL has worked with the museum project for the past eight months.

Before the conversation Van der Leer introduced the panelists while they joined him on stage.

Liza Chong is originally from London, but living in Copenhagen. She is CEO of The Index Project, a non-profit organisation whose mission is to promote and mobilize design to improve life worldwide. The organisation is behind the biennial Index Award, the world-famous design award. Chong has led fundraising and global partnership initiatives that have taken The Index Project overseas to the Nordics, Asia, Latin America and the US.

Joseph Grima is an architect, writer and curator based in Milan. He is a founding partner at Space Caviar, a practice operating at the intersection of architecture, design and research. Since 2017, Grima has been Creative Director at Design Academy Eindhoven, and in the same year he co-founded Alcova, an annual design showcase in Milan. Grima was previously the editor-in-chief of Domus magazine and director of the Museum of Italian Design at Triennale Milano. He has taught and lectured widely at universities in Europe, Asia, and America.

Zeynep Falay von Flittner is an experienced design leader and entrepreneur with a mission to accelerate sustainability transitions with the power of creative practice. She is combining systems thinking, foresight and human centric design to develop new methods and approaches to support organisations to build new capabilities around sustainability transitions. Von Flittner is the founder of Falay Transition Design, the co-founder of Designer Activists for Regenerative Futures Collective, and serving in the board of Systems Change Finland.


Watch the whole conversation below
Some picks from the conversation:

On building bridges
"
Joseph Grima
I often come back to Cedric Price, whose relevance is increasing by the day. He said that architects should not be thinking about building bridges, they should be asking how to get to the other side of the river. I think that is a challenge also for the museum. What is the river we are trying to cross, and what are the ways in which we can get to the other side?
On design schools
"
Zeynep Falay von Flittner
When I graduated 20 years ago, the mission of a design school was to create employment for the industry. Designers were supported with skills needed by the companies, so that you would get selected and add value. On the other hand, now we understand, that the companies are locked in within the market dynamics which are bad for the planetary boundaries and create systemic damage. We need new driver for design beyond market requirements.
On language
"
Liza Chong
Maybe our language has to shift as well, if we want to create an inclusive, accessible environment. Museums attract a certain demographic and socio-economic background. The curation of exhibitions and knowledge has to be appealing in order to reach broader audiences.
On shared ownership
"
Liza Chong
The sense of belonging, when you discover a band or support the same football team, there is something democratizing in that. The sense of accessibility and shared ownership makes it possible to connect and engage without having to be from the same sector, industry, or background. How can one create that within the museum context?
On growth
"
Joseph Grima
Growth is necessary, important, crucial – but it is also going to kill us all. That is one of the great paradoxes. I think we are rapidly coming to the awareness of the absurdity of the situation.
On design as a tool
"
Zeynep Falay von Flittner
I believe that design is a tool to make complexity comprehensible. When I moved to Helsinki, one of my favourite places was the egg-shaped wooden chapel in the middle of the city. There you can talk either to a priest or a social worker depending on your choice, and you can stay anonymous. Not being a religious person, I found this a perfect social service to offer in the busiest spot. I don’t know what would be the equivalent in a museum context, but it could offer similar social value with different forms, depending on the audience’s needs and preferences.
More to read
8/6/2022
"Helsinki is ready for more" – international partner sees a ton of potential in the museum
Read article
David van der Leer and Maria Budtz Sorensen of DVDL at the location for the future museum in Helsinki's South Harbour.
17/3/2022
Four proposals selected for the second phase of the Makasiiniranta competition
Read article
10/11/2021
New visual identity gives shape to the plans of a new museum
Read article
10/11/2021
Meet the project team
Read article
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