Tuesday, March 5, 2024

A journey through art, science and design

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
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In a world where art, science and design converge, Finnish multidisciplinary artist and designer, Kosta Saksi, stands as a visionary storyteller. Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, his work transcends traditional boundaries, weaving complex narratives through patterns, textile art and installations. His creative journey is an exploration of the abstract edge of perception, where ideas of nature take surreal and captivating forms.

Born in Kouvola, Finland, in 1975, Saksi has spent years crafting worlds that are at once playful, contradictory, and thought-provoking. His creations emerge from the ordinary and the extraordinary, fusing organic qualities with delicate textures, rich color palettes and experimental materials. Whether it's like a dream hypnotic A textile series inspired by the transition between dreaming and waking, or First symptoms Drawn from the migraine experience, Saxi's collection delves into the depths of the human sensory experience.


hypnotic Costa Saxi series Photo: Courtesy of Costa Saxi

Saxey's fascination with illusory states and optical illusions finds expression in his art, which often features mesmerizing patterns and structures. These patterns, reminiscent of the visual auras experienced by migraine sufferers, cover his canvas like an intricate tapestry, evoking a sense of wonder and excitement.


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First symptoms Series by Costa Saxi, on display at the Helsinki Design Museum in 2023 Image: Courtesy of Costa Saksi and Design Museum, Helsinki

At the heart of Saksi's artistic journey lies his seven-year exploration of the TextielLab within the Het Nederlandse Textielmuseum in Tilburg, Netherlands. Here, he honed his craft, experimenting with weaving techniques, materials and his unique approach, which he describes as “drawing in motion with warp and weft.” This innovative process combines natural fibers with rubber, metallic, acrylic and phosphorescent threads, pushing the boundaries of traditional jacquard weaving.


Mythology by Costa Saksi |  Costa Saxi |  STIRworld
Mythology By Costa Saksi Photo: Courtesy of Costa Saxi

Saxy's creations have graced the halls of famous institutions such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and the San Jose Museum of Art, among others. He has held solo exhibitions in major international cities, captivating audiences with his surreal and out-of-place designs. His work is appreciated by museums and private collectors around the world, and he has collaborated with high-profile brands such as Hermès and Issey Miyake as well as commercial brands such as Nike.

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In his recent exhibition at the Design Museum in Helsinki, Saksi presented a hypnotic jacquard-weave necklace. This immersive experience delves into the themes of dreams, hallucinations and mythological narratives, offering viewers a glimpse into the artist's fascination with the unique processing of sensory information carried out by the human brain.


In his recent exhibition at the Design Museum in Helsinki, Saksi presented a hypnotic jacquard-weave necklace |  Costa Saxi |  STIRworld
In his recent exhibition at the Design Museum in Helsinki, Saksi presented a hypnotic jacquard-weave necklace. Photo: Courtesy of Costa Saxi

Saxi's foray into furniture design, showcased at the FUMI Gallery at the 2023 New York City Salon, presents a series of one-of-a-kind creations made from Japanese paper, oak, apple tree wood and copper. These functional art pieces continue his exploration of mythological narratives and the enduring patterns that weave through human culture.

Below are the edited exceptions from my conversation with the artist…


Iku-Turso by Kustaa Saksi, 2021. A unique cabinet of curiosities combining Japanese paper woven fabric and joinery by Nikari |  Costa Saxi |  STIRworld
Eco Torso By Kustaa Saksi, 2021. A unique cabinet combining Japanese paper woven fabric and joinery by Nikari Design Photo: Courtesy of Costa Saxi

Zainab Al-Rakli Jensen: Your work often draws inspiration from the intersection of art and science, especially in your work. First symptoms A group affected by migraine. Can you tell us more about how you translate scientific phenomena into your artistic creations, and what fascinates you about this merging of disciplines?

Costa Saxi: In my work, I often deal with the transitional spaces that appear between imagination and reality, between sleep and wakefulness, between madness and rationality. The themes of my personal experience with migraines, universal experiences of dreams and hallucinatory visions, and mythological narratives seem to reappear in my works. I am fascinated by the human mind, especially its ability to process sensory information differently and unexpectedly. My work is often layered with different figurative motifs: animal and plant illustrations, migraine-induced optical illusions, geometric shapes, woven diagrams and psychedelic images.

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Zeinab: You have described your weaving style as “drawing movement using warp and weft”. Can you explain the process behind this technique and how it allows you to achieve complex textures and patterns in your jacquard weaves?

Costa: My experience with jacquard woven textiles began 12 years ago. I love the endless possibilities of working with thread, which of course comes with challenges too. My furnishings are assemblages of complex layers of associations and the interface between the virtual and the material is mixed. Furnishings are woven with natural materials and synthetic ingredients, such as mohair, wool, cotton, silk, viscose, rubber, copper and polyester fibres. Together the materials create a rich, multi-dimensional surface and texture.


Costa Saxi's Herbarium of Dreams at Spazio Nobile 2018 |  Costa Saxi |  STIRworld
Dream herbarium Written by Costa Saxi at Spazio Nobile Gallery, 2018 Photo: Courtesy of Costa Saxi and Spazio Nobile Gallery

Zeinab: You have exhibited your work in many prestigious museums and collaborated with famous brands. Can you share some thoughts on how your art bridges the gap between traditional craftsmanship and contemporary design, and what you think makes your work resonate with such a wide audience?

Costa: Fortunately, I found a gap between art and design where I work. I've always tried to avoid belonging to any particular group, and I feel like I have more freedom to create. All of my shapes are inspired in some way by the organic and natural forms found in nature. They can be fractal and range from the cosmic to the microscopic scale, or literally based on a tree branch found on the street. Familiar shapes may resonate with the audience because my style is a combination of organic shapes found in nature and repetitive structures that appear in the world.


Kosta Saksi: in the Borderlands exhibition at the Helsinki Design Museum |  Costa Saxi |  STIRworld
Costa Saxi: in the border areas Exhibition at the Design Museum in Helsinki Image: Courtesy of Costa Saksi and Design Museum, Helsinki

Zeynep: Your latest exhibition at the Design Museum in Helsinki delves into the themes of dreams, hallucinations and mythological narratives. How do these themes influence your creative process, and what message or emotion do you hope viewers take away from your artwork?

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Costa: I am interested in recurring patterns that appear in the world and their variations. According to the structuralist way of thinking expressed in my works, everything that exists has a common structural origin, creating an infinite number of forms that appear in the surrounding world. For me, it's a way of trying to make sense of it all. I give the audience hints, but I encourage them to use their own imagination to fill in the gaps based on their experiences.


Pitkä-Kotka' Cabinet, 2023, paper, polyester, oak, apple tree, brass |  Costa Saxi |  STIRworld
Petka Kotka Cabinet, 2023, paper, polyester, oak, apple tree, brass Photo: Courtesy of Costa Saxi and Gallery Fumi

Zainab: Your furniture designs for FUMI exhibition, Petka Kotka The series is unique and attractive. Can you explain your inspiration and creative process behind these functional art pieces, and how they relate to your broader artistic vision?

Costa: It is a continuing series of cabinets that combine Japanese paper woven fabric with exceptional joinery. The project is inspired by cabinets of curiosities – or com. wunderkammers– Hide a story Eco Torso, a legendary sea monster, best known for its appearance in the Finnish national epic. It follows my ongoing interest in world myths and their eternal and recurring nature in our societies.

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