The Futuro House was conceived by Matti Suuronen in 1968 as a "portable" ski chalet. It is an iconic piece of architecture and this site is devoted to documenting the history of the Futuro and the current status and whereabouts of the remaining examples.
Futuros have been featured in many exhibitions over the years and these are detailed on this page.
Please note: this page is a "work in progress" and there are a lrage number of exhibitions that have included Futuros that are not yet researched and included on this page. Eventually they will be!
Internationale Kunststoffhaus Ausstellung | Germany | 1971
We were recently able to add two rather rare IKA related items to our collection of "Things Futuro"; they were an invititation to the opening of the event by the town's Major on 080171 and a Guide Book that was sold at the event.
We were recently able to add these three framed photos that date from 1971 and show the Futuro that was displayed at the IKA to our collection of "Things Futuro". While the prints are original from the time unfortunately the period frames did not survive the international journey to Dallas intact so they have been recently reframed. The first photo is 19.5" by 12" and the other two are 25.5" by 12" (the actual framed pieces are larger - the quoted dimensions are those of the actual photographs).
The first photo is a shot of several of the "plastic houses" that were displayed at the IKA. Specifically the photo includes the Futuro along with (in the foreground) Jean Maneval's Bulle Six Coques and (to the right of the Futuro) Casoni & Casoni's Rondo.
The second photo is primarily focused on the Futuro but it does also include the Rondo in the background. The third photo shows the Futuro accompanied by Miss IKA, Monika Geitmann.
Issue 1/1972 of German publication X Magazin für Naturwissenschaft und Technik (X Magazine for Natural Science and Technology) included an article on the IKA on pages 44 through 47; the article is accompanied by multiple photos including one exterior and one interior Futuro shot along with a shot featuring multiple structures that includes a Futuro (a print of that photo from the Baltimore Sun archives can be found here).
The 100771 issue of Florida Today included a very short article about the "Internationale Kunststoffhaus Ausstellung der Welt".
Actually that is probably something of an exaggeration. The article was really just a couple of photos with a common caption and they could not even get that caption right; it was actually inaccurate in that it described the Futuro as having been designed by Alco of Goslar, Germany.
In the first photo the Futuro is seen in the background behind Casoni & Casoni'sRondo; the second photo is an interior shot of a Futuro House.
Achim Breiling sent us an email following the last update with a little more information on the Der Reidemeister article. We had used Google Translate on the file but, while that is a very useful tool, there is no doubt that "human translation" is invariably more accurate than "machine translation".
Achim tells us that while it is true that the article indicates the Futuro was sold at auction for 6100 DM in November 1974 it is still not entirely clear whether it was actually moved from the site or in fact later destroyed.
The article indicates that following the November 1974 auction some of the purchasers simply did not pick up the structure they purchased or ran into problems with high transport costs (in some cases higher than the price they paid for the structure itself). As late as 1976 some of the structures were still on site and at that time those that remained were destroyed. It is unclear from the article whether the Futuro was among the structures that left the site or was among those that were destroyed in 1976.
Achim Breiling has made many contributions to these pages and this past week he emailed us with a couple of links to very interesting items related to the IKA; thanks Achim.
The first was some old newsreel footage of the IKA found on Das Bundesarchiv. The newsreel, produced by Universum Film AG, was released 082471 and features a little under three minutes of footage of the IKA (2:09 through 4:54) that includes some great footage of the Futuro including an interesting look at the interior of the unit.
In part the footage looked familiar to us and it turns out that the short (and very low res) video that we added to this page back on 042713 has the same "source footage". The newsreel is black and white and the earlier video is color but all of the footage in the earlier video is present and identical in the newsreel footage.
There do not appear to be any embedding options for this newsreel footage and it is clearly subject to copyright so you will need to view it on the Das Bundesarchiv website. We have grabbed a few screenshots from the video and added these below to give an idea of the content of the footage; hopefully this is not too egregious a breach of copyright and if it turns out to be so the screenshots will be removed.
The first four shots are exterior and show the Futuro and its surroundings on the IKA campus. We particularly like the shot from within one of the other structures and the night-time shot.
The final two shots of the interior are interesting; in the first we see that the unit did not have a fireplace and chimney but rather a table in the center (like the one seen here in the restored Futuro #000) and in the second, the bedroom, we see spherical "humps" on the ledges below the windows.
We only recall seeing this particular feature in one other Futuro that being the Merimasku Futuro in this video (though with our memory we may be forgetting other examples) and we are not too sure what purpose these might have had other the decoration. If anyone has any thoughts please let us know.
The pdf can be accessed by clicking the image above left or by downloading from the link on this webpage.
The publication, in German, includes an article that offers a great deal of detail about the IKA (though only limited information specifically regarding the Futuro). There is however mention that the Futuro along with other structures from the IKA was auctioned in November 1974.
The Futuro fetched 6100 DM. There is no mention of who the buyer was or to where the Futuro was transported. This does however indicate that the suggestion earlier on this page (based on photos only) that the Futuro was possibly destroyed was incorrect and that it did in fact leave Lüdenscheid though its subsequent disposition remains unknown.
Also of interest to us as a collector of Futuro items in the article was the mention and photos (see below) of a commemorative medallion that was created by a local jeweler. We feel a quest coming on!
This week we added a second postcard showing the IKA campus to our collection of "Things Futuro"; in this case it is a multi-view card and the Futuro is even harder to make out. The last two images below show detail of the IKA panel on the postcard where the Futuro can be seen a little above and to the right of the center of the image.
We recently added this postcard to our collection of "Things Futuro". It is undated but is presumably from 1971 and shows an aerial view of the IKA campus. It is interesting because it includes the Futuro and also because it shows the scale of the exhibition and includes a large number of the different "plastic" houses and other structures that were displayed at the exhibition. The Futuro itself can be seen just below and to the right of the center of the postcard (the second photo below shows detail of this area of the postcard).
Achim Breiling recently sent us a link to an old version of the website of the company that owns and uses the Orebro Futuro House captured by the Wayback Machine (In Swedish | Google translation to English here). The video embedded below was found on this archived page. The video is very low res but it includes a little footage of the Futuro House displayed at the Lüdenscheid exhibition.
Original Information 112712
In 1971 the Internationale Kunststoffhaus Ausstellung der Welt (German | Google translation to English here), or IKA as it was often known, opened. The "International Plastic House Exhibition of the World" was located on a site of some 70,000 square meters outside the German town of Lüdenscheid and showcased a large number of plastic and potentially portable housing units; included among them was the Futuro House.
Although the exhibition attracted some 500,000 visitors over the period 1971 to 1973 it was not a financial success; perhaps due to unwillingness on the part of the public to accept the concepts on display and perhaps because the early 70's saw the Oil Crisis and the subsequent large increases in the cost of oil based products including plastic. Whatever the reasons the exhibition generated losses of some 3 million marks and the organizers, Sauerländische Freizeit- und Erholungsanlagen Baugesellschaft (SABAG), ultimately declared bankruptcy and the property was foreclosed on in 1975.
The website lwl.org (German | Google translation to English here) provides some more specific dates stating that the IKA was initially open from 080171 to 103171 and then again from 043072 to 083172. The plan was actually for 5 years with new additions on an annual basis but that plan never came to fruition.
We have found nothing which details the fate of the Futuro House (or for that matter the other buildings that were displayed at the exhibition) but it is sometimes reported that the Futuro displayed in Lüdenscheid was the one purchased by Charles Wilp (German | Google translation to English here) and subsequently located on the roof of his property in Wittlaer near Düsseldorf.
These reports are inaccurate and Wilp's Futuro House was in fact a gift from the pharmaceutical giant Bayer who displayed two Futuros imported from Finland at the 1969 Hanover fair and subsequently gave one of the two Futuros to Wilp who then transported it to Wittlaer and, after reinforcing the concrete roof of his house with steel, placed it on top of his residence. The second of the Futuros was Futuro #13 now in Berlin (see the 3/2008 issue of Architektur & Wohnen among other sources).
A number af articles found on the website of Essen based newspaper WAZ provide us with a little more detail on the exhibition along with some very cool photos.
In a 090412 article titled Ausstellung floppte, Jugend rockte
(German | Google translation to English here) we learn that 40 years on there is virtually no evidence of the exhibition left behind in the area. We are also told that (assuming the Google Translation is correct) the slogan for the IKA was "It's not far to Lüdenscheid". This article is accompanied by the photo below (Courtesy of WAZ) which shows a panoramic view of the exhibition campus; the Futuro can be seen top center.
In another WAZ article, this one from 042112 titled IKA 1971 - Orion auf der Höh (German | Google translation to English here) we learn that the exhibition opened on 080171 and that by October the exhibition had seen some 300,000 visitors. However many were disappointed with ticket prices and the "tasteless" furniture in many of the homes. Ultimately not a single home was sold at the exhibition. The photo below (Courtesy of WAZ) of the Futuro and Monika Geitmann, Miss IKA 1971, accompanies this article. This same photo also accompanies an 080511 article on come-on.de (German | Google translation to English here).
In a third article titled Die Zukunft endete 1975 (German | Google translation to English here) and published 071108 we learn that the "scientific advisor" to the exhibition was German author and architect Rudolf Doernach (German | Google translation to English here). As advisor and curator to the exhibition Doernach also edited the exhibition catalogue; we would love to obtain a copy of this catalogue but so far we have not been able to locate one for sale anywhere so if anyone has any ideas please let us know.
The two photos below accompany this article; as far as we can tell they are undated but they appear to show the Futuro in a partially disassembled and perhaps derelict state. The site itself also appears derelict and these shots suggest the Futuro may have ended up being destroyed following the failure of the IKA.
Photographs from the Internationale Kunststoffhaus Ausstellung der Welt have also been used to illustrate a number of articles in books and magazines about the Futuro and by a strange coincidence three of these were added to our collection around the time we were writing this piece. The three images below are, from top to bottom:
"to indulge (her) love of art and to feature artists creating unusual and beautiful artwork."
Polish architect and professional artist Klara Ostaniewicz
"is interested in architecture from the past twenty years and the way the design highlights interior and exterior spaces. She uses pencil to celebrate architectural structures through beautifully crafted drawings."
Creativity Fuse hosts a number of Klara's works here and many more can be found on Klara's blog. The drawing below is a representation of the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg and the Futuro (now located in Limni, Corfu) that was displayed during the Tomorrow Now: When Design Meets Science Fiction exhibition in 2007. We love this drawing; so much so that we had to contact Klara to obtain a print of the drawing to add to our collection of "Things Futuro".
We had previously thought, based on timing and photos, that the Futuro exhibited at MUDAM and subsequently sold at Christies was the one now located in Limni, Corfu. In an email we received this week the Futuro's owner, Dakis Joannou, confirmed that this was the case.
It is not unusual to think you have figured something out about the history of a Futuro only to then find something else that suggests maybe you have not figured it out. We were quite certain the Futuro exhibited at MUDAM was the Belgian Futuro owned by Philemon Vanlangendonck but now we have doubts.
We recently purchased a copy of the Auction Catalog for the 2007 Christie's Paris Auction "Arts Décoratifs Du XXème Siècle Et Design" which was held on 112707 and included the auction of a Futuro House. That catalog, from what we would consider a very reputable source - one of the premiere auction houses in the world - indicates that the Futuro sold in Paris was the one displayed at MUDAM.
However all of the information we have indicates that the Futuro of Philemon Vanlangendonck was still owned by him long after the Paris auction. That would clearly suggest that while the MUDAM exhibition did feature one of the three Belgian Futuro's (a fact confirmed by the Christie's catalog) it was not the one owned by Philemon Vanlangendonck. For more information check out the catalog on our "Collection" page.
Original Information 120812
In 2007 there was an exhibition at the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art (known as MUDAM) in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg that featured a Futuro. The exhibition was titled "Tomorow Now - When Design Meets Science Fiction" and it ran from 052507 to 092407.
The MUDAM exhibition was curated by Björn Dahlström and Alexandra Midal with Mathieu Lehanneur serving as Scenographer. The MUDAM Facebook Page tells us that "Tomorow Now - When Design Meets Science Fiction"
"... investigated the subject of science fiction not merely associated with the omnipotence of anticipation and futuristic predictions, but in its coincidence with the emergence of the furniture design discipline.
The exhibition, homage to Hugo Gernsback, Luxembourg-born inventor of the term "science fiction", explored decoration elements as well as design itself, the standardized products as well as experimental architecture, the most contemporary forms in art as well as the most daring innovations in design."
To assign Gernsback sole claim to inventing the term "science fiction" is perhaps a something of a stretch and Wikipedia tells us that:
"His contributions to the genre as publisher were so significant that, along with H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, he is sometimes popularly called "The Father of Science Fiction".
The impressive shot below, one of our favorite MUDAM Futuro photos, was taken by Original Rudie on 091107 and showcases not only the Futuro on display at MUDAM but also the very cool architecture of the exhibition hall itself. The photo is displayed under CC 2.0.
So, one of the photos is of the Futuro, but what is the other I hear you asking and why display it here; this is a website about the Futuro House after all? The second photo is actually of a work by Mariko Mori titled "The Oneness Aliens" that was displayed at the MUDAM exhibition at the same time as the Futuro and Mori's "aliens" actually found their way into a photo with the Futuro House.
It is hard to get an idea of the scale of the "aliens" from the photo above so we cannot be sure if the photo below is real, the Futuro and the "aliens" posed around it, or a photo shopped image. The aliens are clearly Mori's aliens and whether real or photo shopped it makes for quite an interesting Futuro photo.
We came across the photo above a long time ago and we now have no idea where it came from. If you know the origin of this photo please let us know so we can provide proper attribution.
In a 112707 sale titled "20th Century Art And Design" high end auction house Christie's sold a Futuro House in Paris, France. The December 2007 issue of Christie's Magazine contains an article about the Futuro and the auction. The photo below is from our copy of the magazine and is of the Futuro displayed at MUDAM.
The article also contains the following text:
"The rare Futuro house to be offered in the upcoming 27 November sale in Paris was the highlight of the exhibition "Tomorrow Now - When Design Meets Science Fiction" at the brand-new Luxembourg MUDAM museum for modern art this summer."
This text is a little ambiguous; it could be interpreted as meaning that "a" Futuro was displayed at MUDAM or "the" Futuro that is offered for sale was displayed at MUDAM. Until recently we had always thought that the Futuro at MUDAM was the Saint-Ouen Futuro and interpreted one way this excerpt from the article backs up that theory. However we are now of the opinion that the Futuro displayed at MUDAM was in fact the Belgian Futuro and not the Saint-Ouen Futuro.
The primary evidence for this is a pdf file sent to us by Achim Breiling (that can be found on the web here) that lists the exhibits at the exhibition and on page 4 we find the following listing which to us quite clearly tells us that it was indeed the Belgian Futuro that was displayed at MUDAM:
We can also find a little evidence to back this in the photographic record. Scroll back up the page and take a look again at the Original Rudie image, and look closely at the roof left of center and you will see there is a small secondary roof vent about half way between the center and the edge of the unit.
If you take a look at the Saint-Ouen Futuro there is no photograph old or new, pre or post refurbishment, that shows such a feature. It is possible it could have been added for the MUDAM exhibition but that seems incredibly unlikely, add a feature for just that exhibition and then remove it again - in our opinion the absence of that feature on the Saint-Ouen Futuro confirms what we learned from the pdf file - MUDAM did not display the Saint-Ouen Futuro.
We have not seen a photo of the Belgian Futuro that shows any view that could confirm the presence of this feature on that unit but we are willing to bet if one turns up we will see that same secondary roof vent and in the meantime we believe the pdf file referenced above is sufficient evidence that the MUDAM Futuro was "borrowed" from Belgium. Of course as is common with the Futuro there is always room for doubt and little is absolutely certain so if you have better information or can correct something please let us know.
Finnfocus Export Fair | London, England | October 1968
Internet search is an interesting beast; we run multiple Futuro related searches on multiple search engines on an almost daily basis and yet every now and again something interesting pops up that has been out there for years that we have never previously seen come across in search results.
The video is old AP news footage of the Finnfocus Export Fair. The video includes great footage of Futuro #002 (now of course located in Matsalu, Estonia) as it appeared at the 1968 Expo located on the upper deck of the Finnpartner (the Futuro footage starts around 40 seconds).
We recently added this pair of press photos to our collection of "Things Futuro". They show the Finnpartner and Futuro #002 in a day and a night setting respectively. The photos are 10¼" x 8" and 11¼" x 9". One of the photos carries limited markings on the back but does include the date October 1968. The second photo carries a Fox Photos copyright stamp, a Daily telegraph stamp indicating the photo was published 101068 and a small clipping under the headline "Northern Lights on the Thames".
We recently added this Guide Book for the 1968 FinnFocus exhibition to our collection of "Things Futuro".
The guide book includes introductions to the exhibition by several Finish and English politicians, deck plans showing where exhibits were located, a list of exhibitors and what they were exhibiting and several pages of ads. There are no photos of the Futuro but it is mentioned on one of the deck plans and in the exhibitor listing for Oy Polykem Ab.
Really not too much of an update but British Pathe recently added the video mentioned below to Youtube so we have added it here for easy access.
Last week we added a link to some British Pathe Ltd. footage of the Futuro on the Finnpartner in 1968. We inquired as to whether it was possible to license the footage for use on this site but the cost was prohibitive. British Pathe Ltd. were however kind enough to send us the two photographs below, stills from the video footage, without a watermark for use as links to their footage. The photos are copyright British Pathe Ltd. and are used here with permission. Clicking either of the photos will take you to the video on the British Pathe Ltd. website.
Higher resolution versions of the photographs can be found here and here.
This week we added a 32" x 24" poster of the Finnpartner moored at Tower Bridge for Finnfocus to our collection of "Things Futuro". The photo below is the source image for this poster.
We also came across this rather nice photo of the Finnpartner at sea proudly displaying the Futuro House; this photo courtesy of shipsnostalgia.com.
We have come across a few additional photos online and also added two press photos from Finnfocus to our collection over the last few months so we thought it was time to add an update here.
"The ultimately biggest event in KY's history in the 60s was Finnfocus, a huge export trade show in London in 1968. With copious support, KY rented the M/S Finnpartner ship from Amer, which then sailed to London and promoted Finland and Finnish companies internationally. The project was a bold and risky investment, which ended up creating a lot of positive publicity for the student union."
The very cool photo of the Finnpartner at Tower Bridge below, courtesy of KY, accompanies the KY article.
Another cool photo shows the Futuro being loaded onto the Finnpartner prior to the voyage to London from Helsinki; this photo courtesy of mtv.fi.
The two photos below are of original press photos taken at Finnfocus that we have in our collection of "Things Futuro." More information on the exterior shot can be found here and on the interior shot here.
For a video look at the event and the Futuro there are a couple of sources.
British Pathe, producer of newsreels, cinemagazines, and documentaries from 1910 until 1970 in the United Kingdom have some footage of the Finnpartner and the Futuro on their website; that video is titled The Finnpartner 1968.
In October 1968 the Futuro House made its first appearance outside Finland and arguably its first appearance before a "mass" audience (an audience that included both regular "Joes" and "VIP's" - among the latter was British Royal Princess Margaret). The Futuro that was displayed is now located in Estonia.
The definitive Futuro reference, the book Futuro - Tomorrow's House from Yesterday by Marko Home and Mika Taanila, tells us that the Futuro was installed aboard the "Finn-Partner" ferry moored on the Thames. The exhibition was:
"... intended to showcase Finnish expertise in various fields of commercial endeavor ..."
The British national newspaper The Daily Mirror reviewed the show at the time; of the Futuro the paper said this:
"This object, looking like everyone else's idea of a flying saucer from outer space, is the Finnish idea of a perfect weekend cottage."
Home and Taanila tell us that the "Futuro" house was not actually known as the "Futuro" house prior to the Finnfocus Export Fair; it actually got dubbed with the name "Futuro" at that time and as we all know the name "stuck."
We have not seen very many photos showing the Futuro at the Finnfocus Export Fair; this one is courtesy of Marc Berting of 70's Futuro House; one of the longest running Futuro House websites.
However we recently purchased a copy of the Auction Catalog for the 2007 Christie's Paris Auction "Arts Décoratifs Du XXème Siècle Et Design" which was held on 112707 and included the auction of a Futuro House. That catalog included several photos of the Futuro at the Finnfocus Export Fair and these can be seen below.
It is interesting to note that one of the photos identified by the catalog as showing a Futuro at the Finnfocus Export Fair shows a Futuro located inside somewhere and not located on the deck of the ferry. This photo is misidentified. The Futuro at the Finnfocus Export Fair was never moved from the deck of the FinnPartner ferry. While Christie's is clearly a reputable company where "Futuro" is concerned photographs are often misidentified. That this particular photograph was misidentified has been confirmed by Marko Home who has interviewed several individuals who attended Finnfocus and all confirmed the Futuro was on the deck of the ferry throughout the Fair.
The Espoo City Museum organization includes several other museums along with the WeeGee Exhibition Center (and Futuro #001) and it also includes among its collections a large photographic archive. These photographs are available for use under CC BY-ND 4.0 license and this series of photos, by an unknown photographer, is included here under that license. The copyright on the photographs remains with the Espoo City Museum. The full Espoo City Museum archive can be found here.
These photographs document the arrival and assembly of the Futuro prototype, #000, in Kotka for the Radar exhibition.
Original Information 122312
A Futuro was exhibited as a part of the Radar international environment and urban art exhibition in Kotka, Finland in 1990. Information about the exhibition and in particular about the use of the Futuro can be found in chapter one of the book "Futuro: Tomorrow's House from Yesterday" edited by Marko Home and Mika Taanila. The photo below is from the book and shows the Futuro at the radar exhibition. Additional photos can be found in the exhibition catalog RADAR: Dokumentation.
Marko Home also authored an article in the Summer 2012 issue of EMMA Magazine which contains similar details to the book and discusses the emergence of the Futuro into the world of contemporary art in the 1990's. The Radar exhibition in Kotka was one of the primary catalyst's for the "transformation" of the Futuro into an "art object". The text of chapter one of the Homa and Taanila book, titled "From Snowy Slopes to the Foot of Minarets", used to be available online on desura.fi but the content is no longer available there, however it can still be accessed using the Wayback Machine here. The article from EMMA can be found online here.
Radar was an extensive outdoor exhibition that ran from 062890 to 090290 in the town of Kotka, Finland. The exhibition was curated by German Norbert Weber. Radar featured works by 16 artists and among them was Helsinki born Jussi Kivi (Finnish Wikipedia page | Google translation to English here). Kivi's contribution to Radar was an installation titled "The Eagle Has Landed - Unidentified Flying Object - An Exhibition About UFOs".
Kivi's installation consisted of two containers which contained various UFO related paraphernalia along with Matti Suuronen's original prototype Futuro #000 rented for the purpose. The Futuro hosted a twin screen UFO themed visual presentation created by artist Ilpo Okkonen. "The Eagle has Landed" had its challenges from delays in preparing the exhibit to cost over runs and in the end attendance at the exhibit was less than expected; all in all it could be considered something less than a success.
The intention of the exhibit was an informative presentation on the theme of UFO's rather than as a contemporary work of art but despite that and the lack of success the exhibit is credited as being one of the inspirations behind the Futuro finding an additional role in life as a contemporary art object and its subsequent appearance in many exhibitions in that guise. Thus while many , Kivi included, considered the Radar installation something of a failure we might conclude that it was actually a huge success given its influence on the world of Futuro and the increased audience Futuro gained over the years as it appeared at numerous exhibitions.