COMPANY: Secret Universe at Designmuseo Helsinki Highlights the Globe’s Endangered Craft Skills

The show is a mid-career retrospective for Aamu Song and Johan Olin of COMPANY, a self-described “art and detective agency" that scours the world for local manufacturing secrets.
COMPANY Secret Universe Designmuseo exhibition

Running from April 5 to September 22 at Designmuseo Helsinki, COMPANY: Secret Universe showcases the work of Aamu Song and Johan Olin, who collaborate with craftspeople from around the world to produce tradition-inspired objects, including nesting fruits from Russia, felt dance shoes from Finland, and a maple stool from Japan (seen here). Courtesy COMPANY

Aamu Song and Johan Olin of COMPANY, a self-described “art and detective agency,” have spent over a decade traveling the globe in search of local manufacturing secrets. Those secrets are on display at a mid-career retrospective, open this month at Designmuseo Helsinki, which presents a comprehensive overview of the pair’s principles, namely their mission to shed light on endangered craft skills and, in doing so, to critique consumerism. COMPANY: Secret Universe features a “temple of manufacturing” and a “street bazaar” displaying COMPANY’s entire 300-object archive. “We’re playing on a kind of dissonance,” says Song, pointing to the juxtaposition of “the sacred feeling we have when we make pilgrimages to craftspeople alongside the humble street stall where many traditional objects are sold.” The exhibition also uncovers the duo’s working methods—from traveling and collaborative design to production. Their partners are highlighted in a space dedicated to public workshops, which features an “altar of the masters,” a wall of films nodding to religious icons.

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Categories: Arts + Culture, Design