Finland’s first Habitare was held exactly 50 years ago – trends in design, interior decoration and living have since been presented at Messukeskus in September every year


Today marks 50 years since Finland’s largest furniture, design and interior decoration event, Habitare, was launched, with the first Habitare held on 17 April 1970 in the Exhibition Hall in the Töölö neighbourhood in Helsinki. In the first years, Habitare presented products and manufacturers covering a variety of areas in everyday life and leisure, and the event has since brought together the best in Finnish and international interior decoration, design and living each year. The 50-year-old Habitare will be held at Messukeskus in Helsinki from 9 to 13 September 2020.

Habitare 2019. Photo: Maija Astikainen
Habitare 2019. Photo: Maija Astikainen

When the first furniture, design and interior decoration event Habitare was held 50 years ago, it was spring, and the Exhibition Hall in Töölö featured almost 300 different exhibitors in living, leisure and tourism, including, among others, Paulig, Marimekko and Stockmann. Later, Habitare moved to the new Messukeskus facility in the neighbourhood of Pasila, and the event was rescheduled to September, to avoid coinciding with other events in the field. Over the years, Habitare has been a major source of inspiration and a place at which to be seen, as well as a place for launching new products. Habitare has also been a forum for engaging in discussion about Finnish design – design has sometimes been seen as either too Finnish or too international, and at other times as too expensive or commercial. Whatever the truth may be, Habitare has always reflected the state of Finnish design and society.

“Habitare has always been strongly tied to the times, and the trends of Finnish homes and living have always been a major feature at Habitare. Since the beginning, the event has had a significant foothold in the field of Finnish design. Indeed, the first Habitare was held not only at the request of the Finnish Fair Foundation, but also at the request of the National Housing Board, Avotakka magazine, the Finnish Association of Architects, and Ornamo Art and Design Finland. Throughout its history, Habitare has aimed to offer a high-quality trade fair experience to consumers, and it is still our mission today to create a high-quality, inspiring and thought-provoking event, at which both professionals and consumers can learn new things”, says the creative director of Habitare, Laura Sarvilinna.

At 50, the youthful Habitare has many reasons to celebrate

Habitare’s close friend, the designer Ilkka Suppanen, sends greetings to the event on its 50th anniversary.

“My joint journey with Habitare began in 1995 on the occasion of the Habitare Design Competition, so our history goes back 25 years. During this time, Habitare has reached the respectable age of 50 and has, as it has grown into a larger event, maintained its positive spirit, and despite being middle-aged, it is in a good growth phase. The challenges related to the environment are on everyone’s minds, and various solutions are likely to be seen at the fair, which has retained its relevance in a changing world as a meeting place for people and ideas. What would a virtual fair look like? Now that’s a fun and real challenge for the 50-year-old Habitare”, says the designer Ilkka Suppanen, who is responsible for creating Habitare’s exhibition design this year.

Fittingly, on the eve of Habitare’s 50th anniversary, Suppanen has been awarded the prestigious Kaj Franck Design Prize presented by Design Forum Finland. The prize is given to a pioneer in the field who promotes high-quality, functional and democratic design, while introducing beauty and joy to everyday life and enhancing the quality of life.

The Kaj Franck Design Prize is part of the new Design Forum Finland Awards concept. Ilkka Suppanen’s award exhibition will open in late summer 2020 as part of a joint awards exhibition, and his work will also be on display at Habitare in September.

More information:

Habitare: communications manager Eva Kiviranta,, tel. +358 40 775 6609

Design Forum Finland: communications specialist Anne Veinola,, +358 40 548 6407


Habitare, the largest furniture, design and interior decoration event in Finland, will be held at Messukeskus in Helsinki, from 9 to 13 September 2020. Habitare offers experiences and ideas on interior decoration, and on the functioning and look of homes and other spaces. Habitare highlights the ideas and works by a new generation of designers, and sparks discussion. The International Friend of Habitare in 2020 is Joseph Grima. In 2020, the 50-year-old Habitare celebrates the history of Finnish design and living. | | @HabitareFair | | #habitare2020



Habitare 2019. Photo: Maija Astikainen
Habitare 2019. Photo: Maija Astikainen

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Messukeskus on ihmisläheinen media ja turvallisuudestaan palkittu tapahtumatalo, joka luo kasvua aitojen kohtaamisten kautta. Suomen suurin tapahtumajärjestäjä tuottaa laadukkaita tapahtumia sekä vuokraa tilojaan ja palvelujaan live-, hybridi- ja virtuaalitapahtumien areenaksi. Messukeskuksen tapahtumissa vieraili vuonna 2019 1,1 miljoonaa vierasta. | Messukeskus – sata vuotta tapahtumien keskipisteessä | | @messukeskus 

Messukeskus Helsinki, Expo and Convention Centre, creates growth through encounters. We are the largest event organiser in Finland producing or hosting 50 exhibitions and one thousand meetings and congresses with 1,1 million visitors annually. We provide a perfect venue with 7 adaptable halls, 40 conference spaces, the 4,400-seater Amfi Hall auditorium, 21 restaurants, a fully renewed event hotel, and all event services. | Messukeskus – A century in the centre of events | | @messukeskus 

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