Martin Born is a designer, consultant, curator and producer in Helsinki, Finland.
I work with commercial, institutional and private clients on physical and relational spaces.
Reach me at email@example.com
With, for and at Helsinki International Artist Programme — Strelka Institute — British Council — Design Museum — Helsinki Design Week — Finnish Ministry of the Environment — University of Oulu — ESCP Europe — Juni — Helsinki New — Around Journal — 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa — Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean Luxembourg — NAi Rotterdam — Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven — Smena Gallery — Pobeda Novosibirsk — Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg — Finnish Embassy in Moscow — Fergus Feehily — Pablo Hannon — Rosa Tolnov Clausen — François Dumas — Jerszy Seymour — Triad Berlin — Architonic — Vejle Bibliotekerne — Microsoft — Booking.com — University of the Arts Helsinki — Aalto University — Kolding School of Design.
Curating of the residency program on the built environment at HIAP — Helsinki International Artist Programme. In cooperation with British Council, Strelka Institute, Design Museum Helsinki and Helsinki Design Week.
FRAUD: Carbon derivatives, a fore(s)taste (2017).
Elina Laitinen: Sometimes you should just bury the garment in the ground and enjoy that feeling (2018).
Laura Spring: Täkänä (2018).
Luke Jones: Ply-fi (2019).
Jérémy Gaudibert: Coffee (2019).
A readings series in eight parts, presented by Helsinki Design Library during Helsinki Design Week 2019. HDL constituents read from texts that have been foundational to their practical and critical work. All books presented can be requested for loan via Helsinki Design Library.
2019. With Tuukka Kaila: Boris Groys, Going Public — Rosa Tolnov Clausen: Artur Danto, Weaving as Metaphor — Sebastian Reis: W.G. Sebald, Logis in einem Landhaus — Danai Anagnostou, Kaisa Karvinen and Tommi Vasko: Keller Easterling, Extrastatecraft — Daniele Burlando: Luciano Rubino, Le Spose del Vento — Jesse Auersalo: Cauty and Drummond, The Manual — Nur Horsanalı: Jencks and Silver, Adhocism — Martin Born: Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media.
Presentation booth for the wood construction stimulus program of the Finnish Ministry of the Environment. In keeping with the program's micro-footprint ambition, the booth concept built on borrowing and returning as many of the needed elements as possible. Vitra .03 chairs by Maarten van Severen courtesy Artek 2nd Cycle, and Holmas table designed in 2013 by myself graciously provided by its original commissioners, the family Holmas of Espoo.
Concept, design and production, various materials, 2018.
For the Cow to Dance, Drag it on the Ice, a section through four decades of art out of Finland. Curated for Samuelis Baumgarte Galerie in Bielefeld, Germany. This foreword to the catalog by me.
2017. With Ville Andersson, Lauri Anttila, Elina Brotherus, Kari Cavén, Anna Estarriola, Grönlund Nisunen, Tiina Heiska, Hannaleena Heiska, Emma Helle, Joseph James, Pekka Jylhä, Sanna Kannisto, Shoji Kato, Teemu Keisteri, Kaisu Koivisto, Tuomas A. Laitinen, Maija Luutonen, Jarmo Mäkilä, Jaakko Mattila, Jaakko Pallasvuo, Vesa-Pekka Rannikko, Aurora Reinhard, Heli Rekula, Mikko Rikala, Heli Ryhänen, Hanna Saarikoski, Kim Simonsson, Pilvi Takala, Elina Vainio, Timo Wright, 3D Kinobox Obscura. Catalog by Tsto with essays by Maaretta Jaukkuri, Marina Noronha and Kimmo Modig.
Presenters for an exhibition of jewelery and clothing by Finnish designers. Produced by Juni for Helsinki New at Opposite House, Beijing.
Plaster, 2016. Assistance Ivan Segato.
Essay on technical culture in We are Wanderful: 25 Years of Design & Fashion in Limburg by eds. Pablo Hannon, Christophe de Schauvre and Heleen Van Loon for Cultuurplatform Limburg.
Published by Lannoo, 2016.
The design of the Meritulli table began with the integration of the long aprons into the table plate, to provide for a platonic, yet sturdy form. The leg slabs are mounted to the plate using recessed steel brackets that allow for dismantling the table without disturbing the monolithic form.
Around the time the University of Arts asked me to develop these table supports I was just realizing that even though I had been working in a craft environment for some time, I had kept using a quasi industrial design process, manufacturing from drawings. With a total of fourteen trestles requested by the art academy’s for its temporary quarters, the commission seemed to provide a context appropriate to divert from this. All items were drawn directly by hand or machine into material found in or around the workshop, a constraint that gave them a half explosive, half maladroit energy that eventually struck strong vs. the former administration premises.
Various materials, 2015. Assistance Guilleaume Bleeckx.
I founded Design Library Hermanni in 2014 as an independent public source for books on design, architecture, art and related studies to support the conceptual discourse in Helsinki’s practicing design community. HDL collects monographs, catalogues raisonnés, interview editions and other formats that give in-depth views of particular artistic practices, conceptual motifs and historical moments. Additional publications cover technical culture and relevant socio-cultural and philosophical questions.
Since 2017, Design Library Hermanni has slowly transformed into Helsinki Design Library.
2014 – 2017.
I was invited in 2013 to curate the graduation exhibition of Kolding School of Design, one of the two national design academies in Denmark. Beginning work on the project, I felt it appropriate — for both for the humane characteristics of the school and the fact that I dislike events of this category that serve the institution more than the students — that I align the project more with the individual graduates at this outset of their careers.
I asked in an initial workshop how they each wished their practices to develop once outside the frame of the school. From this work there emerged a number of different “wills” or, “temperaments,” that I felt would characterize the designers more accurately and comprehensively than any single piece of their productions.
These temperaments became the structure of the show. In KRYDSNING (crossing), projects were shown that took up conflicts of all sorts. RADIUS grouped works that aimed at expanding practical reach, in technique or method or technology. FUNDAMENTET (the foundation) showed projects that set to examine basic concepts, conditions or mechanisms, such as infrastructure, tradition, perception, construction of identity etc. VÆLD (abundance, overflow) joined work that proposed for a sensory dealing with the environment.
To defy the imposing historical and physical mass of Koldinghus museum and let the last in-school experience of these designers be one of their capacity to change, we built the show together with the fourty-five graduates in as big a scale as we could muster during a two-week construction camp in which we used a mere 8.000 Euros for equipment and material.
I got the commission to design a table for a private client who wanted to accompany it with a group of Hans Jørgensen Wegner’s CH24 chairs. For much of the strength of Wegner’s work stems from his training as a cabinet maker, my interest was in how I could reply to his joinery from a background in totally different things. I drew the table in a basically 2D shape that relates to the industrial saw mill and otherwise to a relatively simple machine environment. The slab structure lets the eye walk off easily and occupies a space opposite of Wegner’s compositions, which it effectively complements. Related to Wegner’s idiom are the fine-tuned angles of the legs that reveal a silent but complex dynamic when one moves about the piece.
In this light no hard material is used to shield off glare, only a spraying of paint where the light should not pass. Driver electronics were modified to allow for building a circuit that has three cathodes instead of the usual two for a more voluminous object.
Fluorescent light, spray-paint, electronics, 2010.
For the Van Abbemuseum’s 2010 Architecture Day project Instatements we were asked with our studio to present a position on how cities should address the evacuation of former industrial sites in their centers. We found that it is not only the industry that is leaving from the city, but all various sorts of transformative, manipulative, work. Our paths most likely oscillate between home and the centers of shopping and leisure, between which work is the bridge, and as production becomes increasingly remote and obscure, we find fewer and fewer workshops that can fix electronics or repair broken chairs. This polarity is the urban installation of the consumer model.
To evoke the idea of a city in which production and manipulation have equal part among dwelling and commerce, we produced a bouwbord, a construction billboard, by hand and installed it in a brown-field that was at the time subject to “development.” The appropriation of this structure that usually heralds the end of a capital-driven decision process was thus made in a process that stemmed less from
Contribution to Instatements, an exhibition on the future of the post-industrial city, 2010. Support structure and billboard
The Dutch Kraakwet was a unique expression of famed Dutch liberalism. Ruling that citizens may appropriate any real estate standing vacant for a minimum period, it helped mitigate the stress on an utterly overcrowded housing market. Particularly beneficial to creatives in search of production space, it also played a vital role in facilitating the large-scale manual research that characterises the Dutch creative output of the last decades.
When the law was put up for debate in 2009, public discussion focused on instances of misuse while no due was paid to its place in the biographies of the designers, artists and architects with whose success the country has been priding and strategically promoting itself since the 1990’s.
Since I had been fortunate myself to find my workspace through the conditions set in and around the law, it felt incongruous to me that this dimension be omitted. I therefore launched Kraaken heeft Nederland vormgegeven to lift into view the perspective of creatives working in Holland. .
The initiative instantly received strong support from many of Holland’s most prominent creators and institutions. It produced various exhibitions and worked with the media to demonstrate how large a portion of Holland’s creative scene indeed had found the framework to begin their careers in the disputed law. A book of collected statements by the supporters on their experience with the law as part of their work biographies was given to the Dutch Senate.
The Kraakwet was eventually sacked by the center-right government in 2010.
KHNLV was shown at the NAi Rotterdam as part of the Architecture Biennale 2009. It was publicised on in Dutch and international news media and specialised press and has since featured in Dutch urbanist discourse.
Kraaken heeft Nederland vormgegeven, lit.: “Squatting designed the Netherlands”. Various public and press activities, posters, book (silk screen print), 2009.
By bending opaque textile panels, the Shades curtain allows to regulate a room’s daylight exposure from direct to fully indirect.
When shut, direct light no longer reaches any point in the room. Instead, its reflection is caught on the textile, providing a majestic manifestation of indoor natural light. The curtain movement is driven by a string mechanism which can be operated either manually or electrically. Electronic triggering of the movement in function of the momentary daylight situation can be implemented by use of a photo sensor. Next to softening the light atmosphere, the curtain also has favorable acoustic properties. Shades can be applied as a window shielding or a spatial design element, and works in relation with natural or artificial light.
Wool, steel, electronics, various materials, 2007. Photography René van der Hulst.
Counter, book and record shelves for Jelle Hugaert’s Pitkämies comic store in Helsinki. Also housing the Finnish Comic Society’s gallery and the studio of comic drawers’ collective Kuti Kuti, the design for the shop was made to honor the hand as the building’s main force.
Various wooden materials, brick, 2008.
Stackbox is a container that can be raised on legs to make a sideboard, stacked to form a shelf or function as a transportation crate.
Polystyrene, steel, 2007. Photography René van der Hulst.
223DCNC is a formal and mechanical study of the possibilities to create three-dimensional constructs departing from a two-dimensional production environment. Specific problematics like undercutting and hinges are resolved by employing the thickness of the material as an agent to change the orientation of a connection.
Study. MDF, 2006.