Jack Self uses time capsule in Iittala’s exhibition about the radicality of timeless design
Celebrating the legacy of legendary Finnish designer Kaj Franck.
5 Aug 2022

Jack Self is an architect and writer based in London. He is director of the REAL Foundation and editor-in-chief of the Real Review. In 2016, he curated the British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale and his architectural design focuses on alternative models of ownership, contemporary forms of labour, and the formation of socio-economic power relationships in space. His work has been shown widely, including at the MAXXI in Rome, Tate Britain, ICA in London, and Design Museum in London. This summer, he’s created the concept for Iittala’s exhibition It’s About Time – The Radicality of Timeless Design at the Design Lab Gallery in Iittala & Arabia Design Centre in Helsinki.

The exhibition explores the radicality of designing timeless objects beyond trends and obsolescence and asks visitors to radically rethink their relationship with time: to reflect on today and speak to tomorrow. Inspired by the design philosophy and work of the legendary Finnish designer Kaj Franck, also known as ”the conscience of Finnish design” and whose Teema series turns 70 years this year, it also asks us to be more mindful of our impact on the world today, and to think again about our obligations to future generations. 

The exhibition concept is implemented by Päivi Niemi, creative manager of Design Lab Gallery, who has also directed a video for the exhibition, which shows a live image of Kaj Franck from all over the world. In addition, the video presents design objects designed by Franck which show his quest for universal basic forms. This is also illustrated by the drawings and thoughts taken from his sketchpad. 

At the core of the exhibition is a time capsule. Visitors are offered the chance to leave their personal message, which will be opened after 30 years — when the mentioned Teema collection turns 100 years. 

— Time is a cultural construct, and our current ideas are incompatible with the climate crisis. We do need to change our behaviour, but we also need to change how we think about time. The old model of linear and exhaustive time must be replaced by a circular and regenerative time. This is just as big a challenge, says Self, adding,

— Kaj Franck was pioneering ecological and social justice more than 70 years ago. It is easy to overlook how radical his thinking was in his own time — and how subversive his dedication to timeless design remains today, in an era of hyper-consumerism and disposable culture.

It’s About Time – The Radicality of Timeless Design is open until August 28.