Sep 18, 2017 Ville Vahteri
Jenni Kääriäinen, Chief Designer at Slush, closes her eyes and struggles to phrase how this year’s design began to emerge. The inspiration for her work usually comes on the sly, and cannot be tracked to any specific starting point. ”It’s hard to explain. Something just keeps moving towards a certain direction. After processing the feeling it gives, over and over again, I’ll usually end up with one keyword that seals it all,” Jenni tells.
This year, there are two keywords: utopia and phobia. According to Jenni, this makes the theme ”extremely powerful as there are provoking dynamics between these two words.” When hearing concrete examples of how this comes alive at the venue, the core idea finally starts to unfold.
Utopia and phobia are meant to cross-cut the whole experience from the entrance to the exit. ”When arriving, it’s going to feel uncomfortable,” Jenni describes. ”Slush will be an abandoned, dead neon city which has to be brought to life. And when it’s brought to life, you’ll notice how attractive and hopeful the atmosphere can be.”
What comes to the visual elements, utopia can be spotted in reviving pink light whereas phobia glows in deadly orange. In materials, moss and rust are opposites – moss picturing the healing effect of nature, and rust reflecting the cast-off past. “These counterparts go hand in hand. Pink meets the orange, and moss grows on rust. It’s all blended,” Jenni tells.
Like every year, this world inside Messukeskus exists for only two days. During those hours, it’s designed to evoke something in our guests. ”If we get the venue right, Slush unlocks visitors’ critique minds to question the world,” Jenni explains. ”I hope that the questioning arises from the inside of an individual, not outside. That’s how art works.”
What makes this art especially impactful is how the venue design supports the Slush main theme, Call for Solvers. ”Program and design play the same game. Whereas program has a more utopic call to action and highly active role, venue stays passively in the background and sets the right mood,” Jenni portrays, and finally concludes convincingly:
”If we really unlock the criticism in all of those 17,500 entrepreneurial minds, and do it collectively… Then things really start to happen, big time.”
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