Nordic Night Avantgarde 0

Interview by Agnese Čivle,

Not too long ago, published select highlights from the exhibition- and event-program for Helsinki – World Design Capital 2012. One of the exhibitions/event groups scheduled for the summer season (specifically, May) – “ÖÖ: Was it a Dream?” – looks particularly interesting. The founder of the Nordic boutique showcase and experience ÖÖ: [û:] is Merilyn Kesküla, a London-based design project manager and event consultant, who also happens to be Estonian. With an education in fashion management and experience in the international fashion industry, Merilyn is bringing to life her vision of a design environment in which fashion is just one of its many aspects. By founding the experimental marketing agency Keskula Network, Merilyn is popularizing the New Nordic philosophy, in which a new type of luxury is being generated by creative cooperation. Choice, locally-sourced raw materials are one of the main components of these unique products, which include everything from food to fashion design. met up with Merilyn Kesküla in Helsinki to find out more about ÖÖ:'s current operations and future plans.

Merilyn Kesküla, a London-based design project manager and label consultant, from Estonia

ÖÖ: took part in London's fashion week this past February. Tell us about it.

The International Fashion Showcase, organized by the British Council and the British Fashion Council and held during London's fashion week, was an official part of the cultural program for the London Olympic Games. The goal of the event was to bring together new, avantgarde fashion talents from all over the world and to give them the chance to show their work to 80 designers from 18 different countries. Korean avantgarde was the big winner this year.


However, ÖÖ: London Edition did end up on the list of eight finalists, and we also received welcome attention from major press publication, including Vogue Italia, and popular fashion and design blogs.

Usually, ÖÖ: events are made up of tens of new avantgarde designers from the six Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Estonia), but this time, the exhibition's core consisted of three Estonian artists: Marit Ilison, with her magical story of the menswear concept “7SILVERMENINCOATS”; Magnus Lõppe, with his clean, simple and peaceful menswear collection “The Project of Forgetting”; and Kaspar Paas, with his unique shoe collection. While the product designer Thorunn Arnadottir, from Iceland and Estonian textile designer Kärt Ojavee were added for extra dimension of design experience.

Magnus Lõppe. Spring/Summer 2012. Copenhagen fashion week

What can we expect from ÖÖ: in Helsinki, as part of the World Design Capital events program?

In Helsinki, ÖÖ: Was it a Dream? will present its fourth large-scale event. [ÖÖ: Was it a Dream? debuted as a pop-up gallery and concept-store in London, 2010, during the London Design Festival. The enterprise's second showing was in Stockholm, during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2010; and their last project took place in Tallinn, in 2011, where Toby Meadows, author of “How to Set  up and Run a Fashion Label”, and Stefan Siegel, founder of the designer platform/internet store Not Just A Label, took part in the ÖÖ: Talk lecture series. - A. Č.]

The Helsinki program will consist of three sections – trade show / exhibition, ÖÖ: Talks lecture series (including ÖÖ: Architectural Talks in collaboration with Alvar Aalto Museum and ÖÖ Talks in collaboration with Aalto University) as well as workshops led by participants, and ÖÖkÖÖk - New Nordic culinary experience.

Kaspar Paas

In the exhibition, the designers will not only present their own personal creative accomplishments, but also the fruits of their cooperative endeavors. We also hope that the creative workshop will prove to be just as successful as it was in Tallinn, where there was a wonderful atmosphere in which the artists shared their stories. In terms of ÖÖ: Talks, two themes will be developed: in cooperation with the Alvar Aalto Foundation there will be a discussion series – at the center of which will be architecture – but there will also be a special lecture on the Indian market by the Indian marketing expert Neisha Gharat (one of the goals of ÖÖ: is to bring Nordic designers into new markets, including India). And then there will be ÖökÖÖk, which means “night kitchen” in Estonian, and will present new experiences in Nordic cuisine.

Design, fashion, architecture, film and food... - these are the things that I've always wanted to weave together, bringing a multi-sensory Nordic experience to life.