FIX: Make do and mend it!

A new exhibition at the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum in Helsinki aims to get us all repairing things rather than buying new 

Mend it ... the Finns do

Cripes, he's got a really bad moth problem. But being Finnish, he'll darn until the holes are repaired to perfection.. If you want to focus more on mending and less on buying new, you have most of this year to head to an exhibition in the Finnish capital that challenges the idea of novelty. And if you can't get to Helsinki, read up on it and gird your loins to (try to) mend every broken thing you've got!

FIX: Care and Repair: 26 April 2024 - 5 January2025
The Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum

In Finland, just about every eight year old child can mend a hole in their socks. 'Finland has a great legacy of fixing and repairing', says  Sara Martinsen, co-curator of FIX. 'It’s part of our cultural heritage and leads back to our history, especially to the post-war times of the 1920s and '50s when there was lack of everything.' She says the skills to fix and repair garments, houses and furniture have been passed down through the generations and the fact that woodwork and handicrafts are still part of our primary school curriculum helps keep these skills alive.

The FIX exhibition also examines the effects of the passage of time on architecture and design. Along with selected examples from architecture and design, the exhibition features four newly commissioned contemporary art installations. The exhibition presents various maintenance methods, but also challenges the museum visitor to contemplate what is worth maintaining or repairing in the first place. Visitors will encounter objects that have aged, become dirty, and worn out during their life. Why is the aging of some objects seen as valuable patina, while for others, wear and tear are undesirable.

The exhibition organisers point out that the way we treat broken objects reveals a lot about us and our society. Do we consider repairing real work? Do we consider a repaired object beautiful? Do we prefer to repair something, or do we throw it away and replace it with something new?. In Finland, new companies have launched that focus only on repairing and fixing - which are crucial to sustainable living.

Designer Minttu Wikberg has turned the fixing of woollen items by hand into an art form. For Wikberg, mending is a matter of appreciating the material. It produces added value and gives an opportunity for artistic expression. 

With more than 2.7 million subscribers, Odd Tinkering is a hugely popular YouTube channel. The Finnish repairman, who remains anonymous, restores and services old tools as well as electronics such as game consoles, keyboards, and phones. In his videos, objects that seem completely ruined are slowly restored to their former glory and become functional again.

In an era when many of us can't repair anything, now's the time to re-think our default decision to buy new when something gets a hole in it or breaks down.