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    Nation-building and design: Finnish textiles and the work of the friends of Finnish handicrafts

    Ashby, Charlotte (2010) Nation-building and design: Finnish textiles and the work of the friends of Finnish handicrafts. Journal of Design History 23 (4), pp. 351-365. ISSN 1741-7279.

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    This article explores the relationship between nation-building impulses and developments in Finnish textile design in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period of rapid modernization and active nationalism. Textiles, as a case study, serve first to illustrate how design was drawn in to the nation-building process in the late nineteenth century through its relationship to the revaluation of Finland’s vernacular culture. The story of Finnish textile design from the 1870s to the 1910s illustrates the shift from a constructed idea of a national style rooted in ethnographic and archaeological sources to an increasingly loose interpretation of ‘Finnishness’ and Finnish design success. The emphasis on vernacular models was swiftly overtaken in the twentieth century, without any diminution of the extent to which designers and design institutions were committed to the cause of advancing Finnish culture. The Friends of Finnish Handicrafts, founded initially to educate public taste and preserve national traditions, went on to provide a framework for the development of professional design and art textiles in Finland. Interest in a national style had not diminished the extent to which designers followed international trends. Indeed, the search for a national style was itself a popular international trend and one that relied on designers’ ability to conceptualize their work within an international context.


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): design reform, Finland, national identity, nationalism, nineteenth century textiles
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2013 10:03
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:07


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