Back + Forth celebrates the 25th anniversary year of twentytwentyone, applauding designs that have inspired the company's two founders, Simon Alderson and Tony Cunningham, whilst looking firmly forward to a new era of designs.
On display during London Design Festival 2021, Back + Forth presented designs that have provided meaning to them, exploring a unique and personal insight into their inspirations. The selection offers a rare opportunity to enjoy an intimate view of those designs that have shaped the world of twentytwentyone alongside the UK launch of Vaarnii, a bold new Finnish furniture brand with a brutal yet sophisticated aesthetic.
"Our exhibition draws together designs that have motivated and continue to influence us. We set ourselves a brief to select 25 designs that have provided measures of good design.
However, we have cheated.
It proved impossible to singularly say ‘this is the best Aalto design’, so we've created some vignettes in certain cases. It has made it easier for us and more for you to see.
“To condense such a long time and so many incredible memories into objects is an impossible task, but we hope what this collection demonstrates is the absolute privilege it has been to source, share and appreciate the life-affirming qualities of good design.”
— Tony Cunningham
The assemblage was intended to be a naturally curated display, rich in diversity by era, material and functionality. We discovered an underlying and unifying material that ties together a lot of our favourites. Its plywood. Whether it's Aalto, Eames, Colombo, Barber Osgerby, or the latest single sheet design by Jasper Morrison, the simple and democratic material continues to provide elegance of form, comfort and diversity.
The creation of tools for lighting, audio, writing, calculating and cooking are well represented in our selection. These ‘industrial designs’ reflect our interest in functionality, and whilst not necessarily decorative objects to live with, they have acted as important references in the way people live and work.
Vaarnii provides a refreshing, contemporary perspective to the design market. Conceived to represent a Finnish tone of voice, the use of a nation's vernacular and its raw materials are expressed through its first collection.
Vaarnii has accepted the responsibilities of contemporary production through its use of sustainable local materials and factories. The brief to designers was both simple and honest:
"We use solid natural materials and are inspired by the efficiency of vernacular design, where objects are made to service the basic needs of many people. Ours is a contemporary vernacular, combining the local with the global, craft in concert with technology.”
— Antti Hirvonen, Vaarnii
twentytwentyone are the exclusive UK representatives for Vaarnii; Back and Forth is the first time the collection is seen outside of Finland, exhibited in the context of a rich and diverse cross-section of design classics.
“We wanted our 25th Anniversary to be both introspective, paying homage to our inspirations while also reflecting a new partnership as a projection of the future. The Back and Forth exhibition will honour the fundamental components of twentytwentyone; the very best in pre-war, post-war and contemporary design.”
— Simon Alderson
Thank you to our great team, our wives, the designers and manufacturers who have inspired us, and to the customers who have supported us and made this journey possible.
We are indebted to you all."
Simon and Tony
The collection assembled for our ‘Back’ element of the exhibition proved to be a unique gathering of exceptional design, which we wished to share with those who might not have been able to attend. We welcome you to explore 'Back + Forth' - an online exhibition of our London Design Festival 21 show; click into products to discover more about the design and its selection.
Introducing VaarniiBrutally Finnish
Newly launched furniture and accessories brand, Vaarnii, seeks to redefine Finnish design, offering a new vernacular. Founded by Antti Hirvonen and Miklu Silvanto, the company launched in early 2021 with the objective to create enduring, honest objects produced in Finland with locally sourced materials. Combining craft with technology, Vaarnii presents a brutal yet sophisticated aesthetic; each design pared back to its functionality and construction.
Vaarnii has collaborated with a series of international creatives, ranging from renowned industrial designers and artists to emerging talent, the impressive repertoire including Fredrik Paulsen, Max Lamb, Industrial Facility, Philippe Malouin and Soft Baroque. Each product strives to authentically embody both designer and the natural properties of the material.
Vaarnii is exclusively represented by twentytwentyone in the UK and will be available from September 2021.
Thank you to everyone who attended
Back + Forth | London Design Festival
22nd - 26th September 2021, twentytwentyone Showroom, 18C River Street, London, EC1R 1XN