Today we met a host of very interesting local people in Turku who are pursuing great ideas and blazing new trails. First we visited Logomo, which is a large event arena and workplace just outside the city center. Janne Auvinen, the events director, took us on a tour of this former train repair facility located next to rail lines full of Russian chemical transport and wood-laden rail cars.
This huge building is home to dozens of design/marketing and high tech start-ups, as well as a place where freelancers can work among their peers. It’s the kind of co-working space that’s becoming so popular around the world as offices contract and ‘solo-preneurs’ invent their careers.
With a large restaurant on the first floor, and a cozy cafe up on the second floor, you can imagine that a great deal of creative schmoozing takes place here. We were taken to a series of event and theater spaces, from small, to medium to wow… HUGE! The biggest arena has the ability to switch into nine different layouts–from small with lots of floor space for a convention to extra large, by moving the entire set of seats backwards on air cushions to seat up to 3500. Big name artists like Buena Vista Social Club and Kris Kristofferson have played here, it’s even large enough to allow the artist’s tour buses to park inside away from the elements!
Then we drove out to the town of Pargas, about 30 minutes from Turku, right on the Baltic sea. Here we met Ted Wallin, who has a personal fascination with Salvador Dali, and an art collection to back up his love of the eccentric artist. He has a dozen or so works of furniture/art that are for sale, among many other paintings, sculptures and photos in his Art Bank. He is full of witticisms and you are never sure if he’s kidding or serious, but his collection has inspired a film crew to propose a documentary about him.
Then we met another artist Jan-Erik Andersson, but this time he was on a large screen monitor as we interviewed him in his famous Leaf House, as he was in Helsinki on business.
With his friendly partner, Marjo Malin taking us on the house tour, we spoke to his large image and he described what this house was all about. It’s certainly unlike any other house I’ve ever seen.
The Leaf House was built as a collaboration of 50 artists and an architect. Nothing in the house is square, and every window is custom-shaped. The walls are round and when you go upstairs you have a view through the whole house to the beautiful scene of the Turku waterfront and skyline.
Details include 26 different funky overhead light fixtures on the living room ceiling, a countertop with a photo image of chefs embedded in it, and soaring wood supports to the high ceiling. Hopefully the photos will do this art project-as-dwelling justice, the house footprint is shaped like a birch leaf. “It’s like being in nature,” said Jan-Erik. “It was built as an ongoing project but when we change something, we always change it back.”