FinnFest Project



FinnFest USA is an ethnic festival with strong academic, cultural, and commerce components presenting Finnish American and Finnish culture and heritage. It’s a festival that brings modern Finland together with historic and contemporary America. (Finnspiration, Buffalo NY)

What is the primary Buffalo, NY FINNFEST focus?

-to experience the thrill of Finnish composer Jean Sibelius’s symphonies performed by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in the restored splendor of Kleinhans Music Hall, designed by Finnish architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen. Be immersed in the film and video work of Eija-Liisa Ahtila, one of Finland’s most important contemporary artists, and explore the influence of Sibelius’s music on Western New York watercolorist Charles Burchfield. You’ll learn about Finland’s history, culture, and inspiring contemporary social innovations, and discover the surprising connections between Finland and Western New York. And you’ll have a great time with plenty of shopping, food, friends, music, and dancing! Come be “Finnspired” at FinnFest USA 2015 Buffalo! (Finnspiration, Buffalo NY)

What is the Buffalo State FINNFEST project that has been completed by the Fashion and Textile Technology Department?

Fashion’s Celebration of FinnFest 2015 is a project designed to educate, honor and draw inspiration from Finnish music, architecture and textile design as well as to link to a Finnish design aesthetic and reflect a WNY visual philosophy of joy and happiness along with the discovery of beauty, color and pattern from every day local elements.

This was a special project open to students with CAD experience. It resulted with the development of a series of textile prints and garments reflecting the visual design series inspired by selective Finnish music, architecture and textiles. This project will be highlighted with a section during RUNWAY: INNOVATION on April 25, 2015 and conclude in an exhibit scheduled to coincide with FinnFest 2015. Tickets for RUNWAY can be purchased HERE.

The overall goals of this project were to develop a series of textile designs/garment line linked to the FinnFest directions of the celebration of 75 years of Kleinhans Music Hall by Finnish architects Eliel and Eero Saarinen, the architectural design of Kleinhans music hall, the beauty of Finland and the visual aesthetic philosophy of Finnish textile design by Marimekko.

Students developed concepts that linked to elements of design which make Marimekko unique; the architectural elements which Saarinen used to create Kleinhans music hall; the naturalistic elements of Finland and WNY.

Student’s textile designs included bold patterns, yet embraced simplicity and beauty from everyday elements. Finland, like Buffalo, has some cold and dark weather; these designs reflected the local beauty of everyday elements in WNY along with the happiness and passion from color and design inspired by the Marimekko philosophy.

In addition to the multi board collections that students developed in class (examples below) that included a concept board, description board, color board, fabric board, print pattern board and line board, students submitted designs for a series of garments directly inspired by the Marimekko philosophy (final student selections above).

The designs were externally reviewed and out of 36 textile prints, seven were selected to be digitally printed and assembled into a simple shift style garment that will be displayed . Student designers are listed above the textile prints.


Caroline Phillips (above)


Yuri Yoshida (above)


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