Twenty-one global companies based out of Finland competed for the 2009 Fennia prize — a biennial competition that “gives businesses an opportunity to stand out from their competitors through innovative and responsible design of economic significance” — in Helsinki last month. As the outside temperature fluctuated between -5c and -10c, the discussion in the Finlandia hall heated up as the who’s who of Finnish design debated. The role of good industrial design in the uncertain financial climate. Of course, it was the products that had the final say; we showcase six that caught our eye. By Kunal Majumder

Genelec 5040A Active Subwoofer
Design: Harri Koskinen

The Fennia Grand Prix winner is the smallest subwoofer in the Genelec range. The 5040A was manufactured using a new method that employs deep-drawn steel and die-cast aluminium. It has a sleek, minimal and modern design – even the speaker drivers and device controls are secreted at the base of the device — makes it suit a variety of spaces and interiors. It is highly functional, of course, supporting up to five active speakers.

Fiskars Pruner with PowerStep
Design: Billnäs Tuotekehitysryhmä

A perfect example of Finnish pragmatism in design. True to Fiskars’ “less effort, more garden” motto, this lightweight, ergonomic and durable pruner features a new ‘PowerStep’ mechanical design that allows it to cut even thick branches almost effortlessly. The joint of the cutter automatically adjusts to thin branches in a single movement, and to thicker ones in up to three steps, eliminating strain and requiring less physical strength while working.

Nokia Bluetooth Headset BH-804
Design: Simon Bradford, Johan Frössén, Alejandro Sanguinetti

The smallest headset ever made by Nokia. It has two easy-use multifunctional control buttons and a specially shaped earplug to ensure proper fit in the user’s ear. Designer Johan Frössén had this to say about it: “The main objective of this project was to create a Bluetooth headset that expressed simplicity, sophistication, and a really premium quality. The product is designed for the style conscious consumer – someone who wants to stand out, yet not in a flashy way. The use of matt rather than gloss surfaces emphasises the discrete nature of the design; the use of real aluminium suggests premium quality. Such a consumer also expects the best technical features – in this case it is supreme audio quality, with background noise cancellation. Seeing the product as a whole, with all the parts adding up, and never forgetting that people are individuals, with different needs – these are perhaps the two fundamental characteristics of creating good design.”

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