So apparently twice a year our design department holds regional design gatherings. I'd seen announcements about this before, when I was still working in San Diego, but being part of a department where design was a mere 10% and budgets were unnecessarily tight, I was never allowed to travel north to LA to attend one of these gatherings, and so they were dismissed from my mind as something that real Designers got to do and I thought nothing more about it.
Having now been accepted as part of the design department, instead of only being a satellite to it, I got to experience my very first officious design gathering. And boy was it fabulous.
Basically the idea of these design gatherings is that all of the designers within a certain region (in this case, Finland...but our other design gatherings take place at our other studios, such as London, the Silicon Valley, LA, etc), gather and present what they've been working on. In this way we can all see the good work everyone has been doing, know what the future of design will look like, and feel good about ourselves. Yes, it's a very coordinated pat on the back and at the same time, push to inspire. We in design like that whole bit.
Plus it's a way for us to once again, alienate other departments. Since we get the free organic juice and fruit in the morning and free lunch once a week, there is already much grumbling and belly aching from the other departments about how we are treated unfairly well...why not seal the deal with more? Just kidding. We all know we are treated unfairly and awesomely. It's part of being part of design. I'm pretty sure this aspect of our lifestyle was insisted upon by Designers. It goes along with other things such as how our cafe has the most expensive coffee machine in it (it makes things like espresso and lattes and cappuccinos) and there is restricted badge access to get to it (i.e. other departments are locked out). Or how we get daylight lamps in our cafe during the winter months but no one else does. It's a strange world we designers live in...but I'm not going to deny that it's pretty amazing.
Anyway, the design gathering. Allotted for an entire day to maximize awesomeness, it started out with free lunch of eggplant parmesan (with meat in it!), salad, chocolates, coffee, juice, and fruit. We then had two hours of presentations on what everyone's been working on (needless to say, it's pretty awesome stuff), and then we were all treated to a day at a local art museum in Tapiola called WeeGee/EMMA.
Yes that's right, the museum is actually called WeeGee/EMMA. No, I don't know what it stands for. Yes, I did laugh at the name when I heard it the first time. Well, I giggled.
So we all loaded onto some posh buses and made the 10 minute ride to Tapiola (it's in Espoo). We were given more coffee and dessert there (berry and chocolate mousses, to be exact...quite tasty) before being set free in the museum. Complete free admission to the entire museum, to wander as we pleased for the next two hours before being shuttled back to the office and ending our day.
I took my time in the exhibits. The last time I'd been in an art museum was Kiasma for the opening of Camouflage (where I was a very excellent VIP).
Strolling slowly through, I saw some gorgeous art. The modern art section, as promoted by my manager, was indeed the most impressive section. I took some pictures, which I later found out was against the rules (though luckily no one saw me, I was not scolded for it). Consider these illegal bounty:
My favorite artist by far was one that no one else was interested in taking time to look at. He had an entire section to himself, which I took considerable time in. The majority of his works was shadow boxes full of found objects; a technique called "assemblage" (which makes sense). Lots of dusty collections of things, carefully assembled to make you feel a certain way. Aptly named as well. I think most people thought they were creepy.
A lot of people spent a lot of time looking at a particularly boring exhibit (in my opinion) that was a collection of painted BMW cars. Artists took varying amounts of time painting entire BMW cars and now they were on display at this museum. There were a total of 5 cars on display.
Perhaps one of the most well-known pieces at this museum wasn't even technically in the museum, and unfortunately we weren't allowed to approach it. It's one of the spaceship houses designed in the 60's that was supposed to revolutionize housing. Never made it. As I kindly said to someone who was visiting for the design gathering, "it would be like basting in your own juices."
Still cool to see though. I bet it would smell terrible inside. Plastic fantastic, as one of my Finnish girlfriends would say.
At the end of our visit we were given a really nice hardbound book of their art collection, to memorialize our gathering there. I thought it was a really nice gesture. As I flipped through the pages on the busride back to the office, it was interesting to me which pieces they'd decided to highlight. There was a different piece on each page, given in full color on glossy sheet, and the back 1/3 of the book was a catalog of all of the pieces the museum owned but did not necessarily print in the book or have on display. Unfortunately my favorite artist, despite having an entire exhibit to himself, only made it into the catalog section. And only maybe three of his pieces. Oh well, at least I have his name recorded for all time.
And thus ended our day of gathering for design. Wonderful day, and really nice to be taken out of the normal work context.