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Finland is a Cut Above the Rest

You'd be hard-pressed to find a household in Finland that doesn't have a pair of Fiskars scissors, or to find any person that doesn't recognize the orange handles. More than one billion of Olof Backstrom's design have been sold, but for Finland, they are much more than just a pair of scissors.


Being the most widely distributed Finnish product, they've become somewhat of a national pride for the small but impactful country. In Finland, Fiskars are synonymous with scissors; comparable to how Americans might say pass me a Kleenex instead of a tissue.

Fig.1 - Fiskars scissors hanging at exhibit. Photo: Design Museum Helsinki

But the popularity of its design has little to do with how it looks and everything to do with how it performs. By putting such thoughtful design into an everyday object normally not given much thought, the scissors have become an all-around household tool. The ergonomic shape of the handles gives a great grip and feel in hand, and the plastic material of them makes the product practical and affordable. The material of the blades use pressed steel instead of forged iron, making tailoring scissors more accessible than they had been in the past.

Fig.2 - The famous Fiskars handles. Photo: Fiskars

Still, the iconic orange handles are what the brand is most known for, and "Fiskars Orange" became a registered trademark in 2003. But did you know the original design was not meant to have orange handles at all? The handles were originally proposed as being black, green, or red. As part of a happy accident, a batch of the scissors was made with leftover plastic in the machine from an orange juicer the Finnish company was also producing; since it was only a sample run, the worker didn't want to waste any materials. The result seemed to resonate with the Fiskars employees, and in a vote of nine votes to seven, orange beat out black as the new standard color.

Fig.3 - Fiskars scissors being used to cut fabric. Photo: Fiskars

In 2017, Fiskars scissors celebrated their 50th birthday with a fitting party: an exhibition at the Design Museum in Helsinki. Not only does it highlight the tool itself, but the work of artists and designers who use them to create flowing dresses, culinary creations, floral arrangements, paper art, and much more.

Fig.4 - Using scissors to cut food, Cecilie Rudolph made patterns from various ingredients found in Nordic cooking.

Fig.5 - Finnish visual artist Anu Halmesmaa's created a paper-cutting for the upcoming exhibition at Design Museum Helsinki.

Finland is a Cut Above the Rest

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