Open Wed-Sun 11.00-18.00 / 17 Lai Street Tallinn, 10133 Estonia


PRESS RELEASE 29.04.2011




The Museum of Applied Art and Design presents a new series of exhibitions devoted to exploring Estonian design through different themes and fields of design, both to better document the different aspects of the history of Estonian design and to help popularize it more broadly. The theme of the first exhibition is lights and lighting.
A number of designers have delved into issues of radiant light and creating lights; the field has also been a considerable manufacturing sector, and is thus of interest as a source of valuable material documenting local design.


A selection of both production-line-ready and unique-edition lights are on display, ranging from the purely functional to extremely playful solutions.
The origins of local lighting design can be considered to be the 1930s work of Estonian architects and applied artists, mainly juxtaposed with lights from German and Swedish catalogues or imported components. Ceramic lamp bases are a special phenomenon – these were an assignment for students at the School of Arts and Crafts and a number of ceramic enterprises of the time were involved in making them. Small companies made a contribution to lighting design in the immediate post-war period. Many of them were destined for merger due to their shared field of activity.


In 1959, some of them were merged into a plastic product test plant called Estoplast, which became highly influential in the appearance of Estonian interiors for many long years and has become iconic symbol of Soviet Estonia's everyday environment. As befitted the time and the place, local design embodied a rationalist approach and clear functionality. The fact that their typical and common forms were ubiquitous has made their presence seem neutral, almost invisible. Hopefully the exhibition will help Estoplast rise to greater prominence.
A prominent designer in his own right is Mait Summatavet, whose work as far back as from the late 1960s exploring the use of form for precisely aiming light – remains fresh today. The various exhibition projects through the years also contain examples of more experimental lights by a number of designers.
A keyword of Estonian design in the 1990s is certainly the series of lights called Basic, designed by Tarmo Luisk. The various lights in this series quickly became very popular design elements thanks to their industrial-tinged simplicity. A hallmark of contemporary Estonian lamp design is that it explored archetypal forms and standard elements, turning lighting design into a very diverse landscape. Liberating the “typical” form and exploring its essence has opened many new avenues in chandelier design. Many of the lights rely on an ordinary light bulb as an archetypal component, providing possibilities for a number of variations The use of found objects and recycling plays a role as well, encouraging dialogue by standing in opposition to the profligate and wasteful extreme of materialist consumption with mass-produced items with an occasionally “robust” aesthetic. Many examples of lights evolve into hybrid solutions where the light has a greater role to play than merely illumination. The latter are frequently sculptural forms, which are functional, emit light and are also independent artworks.

The goal of the exhibition is to highlight the most prominent and intriguing lighting solutions, offering visitors both a re-acquaintance with old familiar works and new unexpected discoveries.


Exhibition design by Jaana Jüris


Thanks: Cultural Endowment of Estonia, all kind donators.

Kai Lobjakas

+372 627 4603

« Back