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Contemporary gallery

Helsinki, 2005

In partnership with Tuomo Siitonen Architects, Ilkka Suppanen designed the interior galleries for the Helsinki Contemporary. Above all, the most striking aspect of the design was the decision to not only paint the walls white but also paint the floor and ceilings white as well. When visitors enter the gallery spaces, they are immediately enveloped by what feels like an immense, infinite whiteness due to this. The result is an interior environment that is eerily sterile and humanly intangible as visitors cannot even see their own shadows on the white floor. To subtly break up this boundless space, several bare columns and openings in the ceiling are visual anchors that contrast the whiteness and help recenter an individual's perception of the space.

Similarly, certain details, such as the staircase railing, door handles, and small tables, are composed of raw metals instead of painted white. Since the metals used for these components were left untreated, they expose previous human interactions. Fingerprints noticeably persist on the handles and railing while tables expose the residue of previously held objects. This, too, makes the otherwise deceptive space feel more grounded and human.
In addition, a special component in the Helsinki Contemporary is the featured bronze apple. The owner of the museum has a staircase railing in the shape of a snake in his own home and Suppanen thought it would be fitting to cast an apple in bronze to complete the allegory between the two motifs.