Futuro houses were not a commercial success. The commonly held theory for this failure is that the oil crisis in the early 70’s caused the production price to triple, making it hugely expensive. I feel the actual reasons are perhaps more complex.
Leon Mill paints a sign outside his gas station in on June 1, 1973. Photo: PA
Modern ideas, or breaks from the comfortable norm, take time to become part of the fabric of society. Things that are supposed to make our lives simpler or better often seemingly actually make them more complex or stressful. Jacque Tati brilliantly convey’s these struggles with domestic arrangements in his 1958 film Mon Oncle.
Visions of the future also have a habit of appearing immediately outmoded. There is no doubt aspects of the Futuro’s concept and design were modern for their time, but equally, aspects of its utopian aspiration are ripe for derision. Woody Allen’s 1973 film Sleeper further conveys the absurdity of futurist leaning ideals.
After the Futuro Matti Suuronen subsequently designed several modular fibre glass buildings with the manufacturers Polykem. The more rectilinear form of the Venturo suggested a step back from the radical form of the Futuro - ostensibly a box with round off corners, and masses of glass wall.
The Casa Finlandia range eventually encompassed the Futuro, the Venturo and the CF10, a kiosk like structure; the CF-16, an overwrought x-large version of the Venturo, the slightly obtuse FF-12 - a car wash tunnel - which makes more sense alongside the CF-100/200, a modular structure suitable for service stations.
Sketch by Suuronen of the CF Range
However, none looked quite as unique and other worldly as the range’s figurehead - the Futuro, but all were arguably more successful commercially but not nearly enough to sustain worldwide interest and demand, and so Polykem eventually went bankrupt.
Futuro models found in abandoned Futuro factory in 1998. Photo: Erkki Vanhakoski / MFA
However, none looked quite as unique and other worldly as the range’s figurehead - the Futuro. And whilst all were arguably more commercially successful, it was not enough to sustain a business and so Polykem eventually went bankrupt.
In the 90’s, first Finnish artist Jussi Kivi and subsequently Belgian artist Carsten Höller both used Suuronen’s prototype as part of exhibitions, harnessing it’s potent power to suggest ideas relating to space, the future and more. This, along with a documentary film released in 1998 (Futuro - A New Stance for Tomorrow), and a book (Futuro: Tomorrow’s House from Yesterday) in 2003, both by Mika Taanila and Marko Home piqued interest in this iconic piece of design. No. 22 >