Snowcrash began in the final years of the 20th century as an exhibition by a group of virtually unknown Finnish architects and designers, with the aim of making an impact in the international design world. They attracted quite a lot of attention in 1997 during the Milan Design Week, also known as the Milan Furniture Fair, and ended up as an international design company based in Sweden worth over a hundred million Swedish kronor. The collection, which was established over the course of 1997 to 2003, is being exhibited now for the first time.
At the end of the 1990s, Finland and Sweden moved out of a deep recession to become the driving forces behind information technology, and Nokia (FI) and Ericsson (SE) were the first and third largest mobile phone manufacturers in the world.
In this climate, a group of likeminded Finnish architects and designers in 1997, decided to make an exhibition during the designweek in Milan, and they called it Snowcrash. Their designs were worlds apart from what people expected to come out of the north, and it was unanimously hailed in the press, prompting a journalist at Domus magazine to write “These refreshing, stormy alternatives are like acid snow on the calm commercial world of the official fair.”
The year after, Snowcrash was bought by the Swedish company Proventus Design that was based in Stockholm – which also owned the Finnish furniture company Artek and Swedish textile company Kinnasand. In a time when nobody knew where internet would take us, the international artists and designers that gradually were tied to Snowcrash, looked towards the future with great optimism.
Experiments in electronic hard- and software, natural and synthetic fibers – resulted in objects that adressed new work- and lifestyles in a rapidly digitalised society. However, despite the immense success in the media, Snowcrash had to be put on ice after only four years. Without any coherent documentation, Snowcrash gradually turned into a folk tale within the international design community. What was made, who was involved, why did they not make it? These are questions that has lingered ever since.
A new book finally gives the answers, and in the process, broadens the Scandinavian Design narrative and offer a flashback to a time when the digital society that we now live in, was being founded.
The book Snowcrash 1997-2003 is written by Gustaf Kjellin, edited by Ilkka Suppanen, and features an introduction by British curator and writer, Jane Withers. Designed by Fredrik Bohman.
An exhibition by Ilkka Suppanen and Gustaf Kjellin about Snowcrash will open at Nationalmuseum in Stockholm on 4 May to 13 February 2022.
“Today, these products may look naive. However, when I look back at the time in which they were made, it almost feels like the last moment historically, when the future still looked good. We had faith in that we could solve any problems that would arise. Therefore I believe that the Snowcrash story has something significant to communicate – to look at technology and the future with optimism.” –Ilkka Suppanen
“I have been a huge fan of Snowcrash ever since 2001 when I tried out Pasi Kolhonen and Ilkka Suppanen’s Airbag at a nightclub in Tokyo. Considering how big impact they had in the media, it is fascinating to me that there has been no information on Snowcrash available, and so I am very glad we have made this book – their story really deserved it.” –Gustaf KjellinShare on facebook