Photo by Holger Kilumets

From September 18 to October 3, the three Baltic States — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — will participate in the official programme of the London Design Festival with a joint design exhibition Tactile Baltics, which will be shown at Dray Walk Gallery — a popular cultural event venue in Shoreditch. In the exhibition, each country will show twelve works, six of which will be included in the virtual design collection «Adorno London 2021» and will also be viewable digitally.

Stories Editorial August 26, 2021

As the title suggests, Tactile Baltics will emphasise the tactile quality of design and the deep connection with nature that characterises the Baltic region. The installations created especially for the exhibition will allow visitors to gain a better understanding of the most important aspects of Baltic design, including sustainability, traditions, craftsmanship and innovation. With the help of design, Tactile Baltics will tell about the nature, culture and people of the Baltic States and will allow visitors to feel the materials, colors and shapes of our region.


Dace Vilsone, State Secretary of the Ministry of Culture of Latvia, emphasises: «This is a very important and significant exhibition for Latvia — it is the first co-operation in the field of design between the three neighboring countries funded by the Baltic Cultural Foundation, thanks to which such a large-scale design exhibition has been created at one of the most prestigious design events in the world — London Design Festival. This co-operation of the Baltic States makes the individual efforts of designers more visible, as well as motivates the creativity of designers, stimulates the development of design in our country.»


The organisers and curators of Tactile Baltics are the Latvian Design Centre, the Lithuanian Design Forum and the online design platform NID. The exhibition will feature the work of both well-known and young, promising designers — a total of eighteen contemporary design works (six from each country), which will include furniture, lighting, tableware, textiles and jewellery. In cooperation with the online platform Adorno, Tactile Baltics will also offer eighteen collectible design works, which will be included in both the physical exhibition and the Adorno London 2021 virtual design collections, in which Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway  and Sweden are represented alongside the Baltic States.


The exhibition design is created by Estonian scenographers Helen Sirp and Holger Kilumets, while the visual identity has been developed by Latvian graphic designers Kirils Kirasirovs and Sabīne Masaļska. Dita Danosa is the curator of the Latvian design collection of Tactile Baltics, Kätlin Lõbu, Triin Loks and Maris Kase have selected the Estonian collection, and Gabija Vanagė is the curator of the Lithuanian selection.

The traditions of the Baltic nations, which have been developed for thousands of years of inhabiting the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea and experiencing similar turning points in history, form the basis of common Baltic design features. The skills and knowledge of previous generations are used to develop new approaches and methods. Designers collaborate with craftsmen, combining their skills with modern technological possibilities to create innovations through experimentation. Baltic designers have the ability to create attractive and sustainable objects from simple materials with limited resources. In addition to the common design lines, each of the Baltic States also has its own special design signature, which will be revealed to the visitors of the exhibition when viewing the exhibited works. The different language and culture of each country, as well as the historical influences of other cultures, have contributed to the development of unique features and the creative, technological and aesthetic directions followed by designers are different.

Dita Danosa, Head of the Latvian Design Centre: «Estonia, as a country closer to the north, is the most restrained in terms of design. Its design is simple, natural and functional. Moving south, the picture gradually changes. Lithuanian design is more stylistically complex; a noticeable desire to decorate objects with additional elements and luxurious details, creating a sense of eclecticism. Latvia, as a country in the middle, has both similarities to both neighboring countries and unique features. Latvian design is aesthetically closer to Estonian design — it is laconic and stylistically clean. On the other hand, the use of brighter colors is more similar to Lithuanian design. The uniqueness of Latvian design is an emotional component that complements the function with narration, plays with materials, structures and innovative effects.»

Tactile Baltics is an important and exciting opportunity to present contemporary Baltic design internationally, increase the recognition of Latvian, Estonian and Lithuanian design and make it more valued. With the exhibition at the London Design Festival, its organisers want to present the Baltics in the international design arena as a creative region and countries whose designers and design manufacturers have the ability to create high-quality solutions.


More information about the exhibition and its participants can be found on the Tactile Baltics website.