|People from Ateneum on
a trip to Copenhagen in 1915.
From left: Rafael Blomstedt, Veli Tage Snellman,
Gunnar Finne, Ragni Holmberg and Torsten Stjernschantz.
©Photograph: National Board of Antiquities
highest form of education in the field of arts and crafts
started in Finland in a peculiar turning point of history, one
could even say as a result of disagreement between different
lines of action. In the 1860s a total revision of the educational
system was in view. A common elementary education, the Finnish
Folk School, was established. The church was compelled to release
its hold. The guild system was about to come to its end. The
latter was the very institution that had been responsible for the
training of craftsmen. There had been moves and splendid
suggestions for the developing of art education. Professor
Fredrik Cygnaeus had worked persistently for the establishing of
an Academy. His work failed. His successor, the university
the same direction. He recommended the uniting of the education
of art and industrial design in a common building. He made
appeals to the leaders of industry and business as well as to
state authorities. Estlander was the one who managed to get the
School of Applied Arts, The Veistokoulu, started on
January 11, 1871.
The beginning was
modest in all respects. There had been the famine years in the
1860s. Those years gave new aspects to the use of common money.
Accordingly even art had to be harnessed to improve the state of
the whole nation. The esthetic level of industrial products had
to be raised, and new markets had to be found for them. Art for
art's sake was not to think of at the time.
the School of Applied Arts
was opened in the
Kasarmikatu elementary school building, almost half of the
courses consisted of all-round practical education. Among the
subjects taught, eleven in all, were line and free-hand drawing,
and stick/brick drawing; ornament drawing; moulding ; house and
decorative painting; all-round natural science; book-keeping and
arithmetics. Lessons were given in work-day evenings and on
Sundays before noon. The number of students was 64 by the end of
the first term.
In the autumn term of
1871 some women entered this male seat of learning. Drawing and
painting had naturally been included in the normal education of
young girls of the higher social classes even before. But now
women started to find their way to the applied arts. The Finnish
system was very progressive. This progressiveness was, however,
almost 'indecental', a threat to tradition. Higher education and
the keys to creativity were so far reserved for men. It is worth
noting that the Central School of Applied Arts, as it was
renamed by a gracious decree of 1885, almost from the start also
was a seat of learning for women, even though many social norms
mined their way to professional achievements in many
Theodor Höijer, 1884-87.
New Central Position
The Central School of
Applied Arts had gained a new, important role by the middle of
the 1880s, and when a new building called 'Ateneum' was
inaugurated in 1887, a splendid possibility to develop the higher
education in arts and crafts had been created.
The Finnish Society of
Crafts and Design, constituted in 1875, could now forward
education in rooms that seemed to signal a bright future. The
Central School of Applied Arts combined with an art museum was
given the name Ateneum. The building still carries the Latin
motto 'CONCORDIA RES PARVAE CRESCUNT' (Small things thrive of
concord) on its facade. The same amount of money had been spent
as for the present Opera House in Helsinki. The opponents of the
building called it 'the Palace of Millions'. Especially the
piling had cost both time and money.
Central School of Applied Arts strove on. As a result of the
purposeful work of its director Ernst Nordström, new goals
were set in the mid 1890s. There had to be several years long set
courses in the most popular professional subjects. The courses of
the Central School had to be lengthened to three years. As an
entrance requirement the students had to have passed at least
elementary school (the Folk School) or have acquired equivalent
knowledge. And the proportion of art subjects had to be further
increased. Subjects not pertaining to the line of the school,
such as elementary mathematics and orthography, were gradually
excluded. Practical problems also lay behind this: The number of
students grew quickly and the first signs of
lack of space appeared.
The First Structural
Reforms were speeded up
by the new art director
The new century meant a radical change to the education in
applied arts. New vitality had to be found and the educational
quality improved. Development was also made faster by the growing
amount of international exchange.
of Anglo-Belgian origin, had settled in Finland in
1897, and he started a determined development of the teaching of
ceramics in the Central School of Applied Arts. He and
training in ceramics and Finnish ceramic art to an international
level. The task of the Central School was 'partly to offer
persons who have worked in practice with art crafts an
opportunity to gain greater artistic competence in their
professional education, partly to distribute general knowledge
and skills to artistically talented persons'. The Central School
of Applied Arts was gradually divided into four sections, a
senior school of applied arts, a senior craftsmen's school, a
preparatory school, and besides a course for art teachers.
Birger Kaipiainen. The
Birds. Exercise work 1934.
©Photograph: UIAH/Picture Archives.
At the end of the
spring term of 1912 Armas Lindgren resigned from the director's
office and was succeeded by
Werner von Essen was appointed as headmaster in
1915. A new curriculum was also adopted in the same year. The
education was divided into set courses and obligatory subjects
along the different crafts. The senior school of applied arts was
extended to three years including the following departments:
model drawing, furniture drawing, decorative painting, ornamental
carpentry, ceramics, forging and metalwork, and teacher training.
The department of graphic art started in 1926, and in the school
year 1929-1930 the department of textile art was established.
Textile pattern design had even before this been taught in the
Central School, but with the start of a separate department of
textile art, proper training and teaching in design of woven
fabrics was begun under the leadership of
She had a central position as
part-time vocational teacher in the textile department 1928-1948
and later made a remarkable career as senior teacher of textile
art during the years 1949-1962. It was at the Department of
Textile Art that one of the first doctor's degrees of art was
taken at the University of Art and Design by the textile artist
Päikki Priha. Her thesis treats ecclesiastical textiles.
'Himmeli' (A himmeli is a
Finnish traditional decoration built of straw pieces on strings
and hung from the ceiling) made under the leadership of Ilmari
©Photograph: Kaarlo Kultala. UIAH/Picture
In 1943 Werner von
Essen retired with a pension and Rafael Blomstedt became
was appointed as art director. The constitution of the school was
confirmed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry in September
1949 and the name of it changed to THE INSTITUTE OF INDUSTRIAL
ART. The institute was divided into the Institute of Applied Arts
and the Vocational School of Arts and Crafts. The school was
still administrated by the Society of Crafts and Design.
Functionalism was mixed in with the design ideology, maybe even
more than formerly was the case with
the Bauhaus Ideology,
and once again more international impulses.
The search was for solutions of deliberately plain, timeless and
clean forms. 'Only the simple is best, leave out all the
unnecessary, develop plasticity' was the aim of
senior teacher of the
Interior Decoration Department of the institute. He was senior
teacher in the beginning of the 1950s and later on teacher during
the period 1979-1986.
The State Takes Over
In the year 1951 Tapio
Wirkkala was appointed as art director of the Institute of
Industrial Art and
headmaster. In 1960 the architect Markus Visanti started as
headmaster, and in the autumn of the same year the institute
lengthened the education to fours years. At the same time
artistic leadership was offered
who continued the line of reforms, especially the
education plan of general design.
In July 1965 the State
took over ownership of the school. The institute continued to
work in two units: The Institute of Industrial Design and the
Vocational School of Arts and Crafts. The former was run as a
four year day school. It was divided into the departments of
graphic art, camera art, ceramic art, metal art, garment design,
interior decoration, textile art and art teacher training. To
some of the departments entrance requirements included completion
of secondary school, to other departments completion of the
middle school (the lower forms of secondary school) and besides
at least 18 years of age.
Yrjö Verho teaching
Ateneum B I 5.
©Photograph: UIAH/Picture Archives.
The aim of the
Vocational School of Arts and Crafts was to give persons who
intended to work or already were active as workers and work
leaders in the industrial art vocations, education in both theory
and practice. Special courses were also arranged. The vocational
school worked as a three year evening school. It was divided into
a general line including a course in graphics and one in interior
consulting; the line of book-printing included the setting,
printing, and bookbinding schools; the photographic line included
the photography, film-photography and television photography
Studio of the Camera Art
From left: Tuula Pöyry filming, Tiiti Taskinen acting
and Irma Rauhala lighting up.
©Photograph: UIAH/Picture Archives.
To the Highest Level in
was headmaster during
1970-1971, and from the beginning of 1972 the architect Jouko
Koskinen took over. In the curriculum there had been a transfer
to a system with achievement points and the set yearly courses
had been abandoned.
In 1973 there a new law
was drafted for the University of Industrial Arts, and on July 1,
1973 the Institute of Industrial Arts and Crafts became the
University of Industrial Arts.
The construction of the
new university was based on a division into institutions: the
institution of art teacher training, the institution of visual
communication (graphic planning, photography, stage design, film
and television work), the institution of product and environment
planning (ceramic design, textile design, garment design,
interior decoration, industrial design), and the institution of
general education. The Vocational School of Arts and Crafts was
reshaped into a educational centre.
By the end of the first
academic year there were 419 students at the university and 373
in the training centre. The number of full-time teachers was 47.
In 1978 a statute was
enacted to make it possible to take higher degrees in the field
of industrial design: a Master of Arts Degree in Applied Arts was
carried into force. Yrjö Kukkapuro was appointed as
headmaster in 1979, and after him in 1981 the interior architect
©Photograph: Lucio Lazzara, 1994.
Moving into Arabia Created
Possibilities of Reform
The university now
began to grow into its full size in the 1980s. In 1981 it became
possible to take a Licentiate and a couple of years later a
Doctorate of Arts. The university moved from Ateneum to
Teollisuuskatu 19 in 1982. The joint plan of the universities of
art for location in Pasila had stranded.
During the second half
of the 1980s remarkable and deep reforms were initiated. The
difficult question of space could finally be solved. Moving to
Arabia in 1986 greatly improved the conditions of work for the
university. New coherent accommodations made it possible to raise
both the level and volume of education in art and
The interior architect
Sotamaa, who had been appointed as headmaster in 1986, put
the highest international level as a goal for the university.
Conditions in the university were developed powerfully. Many new
lines of education were established and local design centres
opened in Vaasa and Kuopio.
In 1991 the Institute
of Design Leadership, DMI, was established and an international
training programme of Design Leadership started. The same year
the first doctors of art also defended their doctoral theses. The
first conferment of degrees at the University of Art and Design
was arranged in June 1993.
A programme of
education in digital visualization and planning, started in 1992,
resulted in the establishing of a new unit, the Media Laboratory,
in the year 1993. Other special units are at the present the
Education Centre, the library and MUOVA in Vaasa.
The number of students
has grown continuously: in the mid 1990s it is approaching the
1,500 line. Some 10 per cent of the students come from
A plan for an
industrial arts centre on the Arabia Shore (Arabianranta),
initiated in the middle of the 1990s, has proceeded well. In
August 1995 an intentional agreement was signed for creating a
centre of industrial art in the part of town called Toukola by
the year 2000. Parties of the agreement are: the Ministry of
Commerce and Industry, Eläke-Varma, Hackman, Metra, the
University of Art and Design, the Pop/Jazz Conservatory, and the
City of Helsinki.