© Design Museum Helsinki / Photography: Paavo Lehtonen

Originally from Kouvola, a sleepy provincial town in southeast Finland, but based in Amsterdam since we can remember, illustrator, artist and designer Kustaa Saksi (1975) has stepped into the limelight in his homeland. It’s in Helsinki, at the renowned Designmuseo to be precise, where Saksi is the protagonist of the venue’s main exhibition in its 150th anniversary year. Entitled Kustaa Saksi – In the Borderlands, the elaborate showcase specifically explores Saksi’s body of work with textile art and jacquard weaving technique of the past decade. Additionally, a number of new works will be presented, including the seven-metre long tapestries Forest Boy and Ideal Fall. So, the prolific Fin has collaborated for ten years with TextielLab, the knowledge centre of TextielMuseum in the Netherlands. Interestingly, it’s a place which prides itself as being a textile centre of excellence of sorts, but when Saksi presented his designs, the initial response was that they were too complex for production.

In his works, the designer combines natural materials, such as mohair, alpaca wool and cotton, with phosphor, metal threads and synthetic materials. Needless to say, Saksi has gained quite a reputation for his opulent and multi-layered vision which balances between reality and illusion. Spawning from this vision is a design approach which effortlessly combines the digital and analogue realms—he first draws his ideas on paper or by using a computer, and then transfers the sketch to a textile form using the jacquard technique which was invented in the 19th century. Mind you, this technique can be referred to as one of the precursors to today’s computers. It was the first mechanised technique which enabled the transfer of information about a particular pattern to a weaving machine, using a punched cylinder, to become a piece of textile (on through Oct 15).

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© Design Museum Helsinki / Photography: Paavo Lehtonen