TALLINN - Estonian applied art and product design has a long tradition, and during recent years it has gained more and more attention and international recognition. Estonian graphic arts, fittings, furniture, textiles, jewelry and clothing design have made their way to various exhibitions and fairs as well as to international markets. Elle Decoration, Elle, Avantage, ID, Dwell and other publications from France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and the U.S. have run features on Estonian designers and their accomplishments. The U.S. magazine Newsweek named Tallinn a surprising design capital. That honor has been earned by Estonians for their fashionably and emotionally created Estonian cafes, restaurants, museums, hotels and spas, behind which are several interior designers who have received a strong design education.
The interiors are known for their Nordic look, carefully considered complexity and innovative solutions. The latest trend is the accentuating of Estonian styles and the meshing of ethnic elements into a modern environment. Textile artist Signe Kivi and jewelry artist Kart Summatavet are the initiators of this new trend.
The largest design sector in Estonia is the garment and textile industry. Estonian graphic design also has strong roots. Alongside everyday commercial logos and other visually identifying creations, there has been a revival of posters as art, as well as graphic designers in search of Estonia’s typographic identity.
This year, the Fifth Design Night Festival will take place in Tallinn, from Sept. 23-26, where the main focus of the event will be design and creativity. The festival will be launched at Rotermann Quarter.
Design Night Festival promotes the application of creativity in the fields of activity of modern lifestyles in the name of creating a better physical and social environment, cultural tourism and cultural entertainment. The events encompass design, architecture, art, cinema, music, fashion, etc.
“We wish to demonstrate how creativity and design can be applied in creating a better physical and social living environment. The keyword of the festival is ‘synthesis,’ referring to an ever progressing process in which different fields of culture will merge, so that it will be difficult to distinguish between them,” says one of the organizers of the festival.
The slogan of this year’s Design Night is “Design at Your Service.” This time the educating lectures will be centered on design management and universal design. One of the main topics to be discussed at the design management conference is “Why some enterprises happen to be more successful than others.”
The “Tallinn For All” project, which aims to improve the accessibility of the town and increase its number of visitors, together with its accompanying seminar “Cities For All” and various workshops, will help to apply the “Design for All” way of thinking. Presentations will be made by top experts in their fields: Jean Schneider (France), Kathryn Best (United Kingdom), Pete Kercher (Italy), Finn Petren (Sweden), Julia Cassim (United Kingdom), Peter Neumann (Germany), Francesc Aragall (Spain) and many others.
Workshops will encourage designers to (re)use their manual skills. Professor Gregor Krisztian (Germany) and Bjorn Koop will demonstrate how virtuosos work and how the idea finds a visual form.
The festival goes on with the tradition of seeking links between design and culinary art. The aim of the Bread workshop is to appraise Estonian bread products. The material expert Simone de Waart (Material Sense, Holland) will supervise a workshop for people looking for innovations in food packaging and interested in developing a new kind of Estonian lunch.
For the third time the Estonian design award ‘Bruno’ will be awarded in the categories of best product design, best design project and excellent design management. The jury is formed by international members and the prize fund is 150,000 Estonian kroons (9,587 euros). Architecture and Design Gallery will open an exhibition of the nominees. Awards will be handed out at the ceremonial gala event.
For the first time it will be possible to take an insider’s look at Estonian design on the movie screen. The documentary “Estonian Design from the Inside” will be premiered at the festival.
The theme of identity searches will be supported by a theatrical performance in Soprus Cinema.
The Design Auction will bring surprises with products designed specially for the event. For several years now, Estonia has been introducing its designs at foreign exhibitions with the support of the government.
Design Night will also host Dutch design exhibitions “Out of the Box,” “Bike and Dutch Bike Fantasy.”
This event has been selected from among projects within the “Tallinn – Culture Capital of Europe 2011” program and has won two local prizes.