The Winds of Change in the 1960s and 70s
By the 1960’s, plastic had become a common material in everyday life. From the beginning to the middle of the 1960’s, Fiskars invested in plastic industry. Its plastic collection consisted of, for example, electric switchboards, plastic crates for beer and lemonade and foam plastics used for insulation, such as Fiskacell. The new material and techniques were also used to develop Fiskars home appliances. Part of Fiskars’s plastic production was located in Tammisaari, where Fiskars had bought the old building of Pohja clothes factory. Its plastic factory in Tammisaari burnt down in 1966 – a big event in the small municipality.
In the middle of the 1960’s, Fiskars’ research and development department was located in Vallila, Helsinki. Electronic devices and home appliances were designed there. Among other products, the department made a juicer, a hairdryer, a mixer and a microwave. In the 1960’s and 70’s, plastic dishes called Fiskamin were also made.
A juicer 1965-1970
A microwave 1965-1973
Scissors had been in the collection of the Fiskars cutlery mill since the 19th century. In the beginning of the 1960’s, they were still more or less made with the same techniques they had always been made. In the 1960’s, Fiskars tried a German manufacturing process, but found it to be complicated and difficult. Nonetheless, the staff at the cutlery mill continued its development work, and the scissor production was simplified by utilising a surface grinder. The old fastening screw was swapped for a rivet, and the handle was made out of plastic. This made the manufacture of scissors cheaper, and improved their features and appearance.
The manufacture of the orange scissors began in the Fiskars cutlery mill in 1967, and soon it became evident that more space was required. At the beginning of the 1970’s, Fiskars made its first big investment in a long time: a new scissor factory was built in the Billnäs industrial area in 1972. By the end of the 1970’s, 300,000 of Fiskars’s orange scissors with a plastic handle were made every month. The scissors changed the traditional ways at the cutlery mill, a new market sector was created, and Fiskars’s production concentrated more on consumer products.
The Modern Home
Finland, along with the rest of the world, changed rapidly in the 1960’s. Man visited space, and eventually landed on the moon. People from the rural areas moved into concrete suburbs and flats with modern appliances such as a television, a refrigerator, a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner. By pressing a button on their television, Finns could open a window to the modern world.
First televisions appeared in homes in the 1960’s. The first television in Pohja, which is shown in the exhibition, was made in 1957. Eero Pärnänen, a resident of the Pohja village, learned from the Tekniikan maailma magazine how to make a television himself by ordering an assembly kit. It took him a month to put the television together. Cathode ray tube (CRT) was not included in the kit, so he had to take a bus to Helsinki to get it. It was an exciting journey: the CRT was heavy and fragile and had to be delivered safely home in the backseat of the bus. A carpenter made a wooden frame for the television according to the instructions in the Tekniikan maailma. Even though the television was ready, it took Eero two months before he could get any kind of picture from it. The first programme he could see was an operetta broadcast from Tallinn. At the time, there were no regular broadcasts in Finland.
In the 1970’s, Pohja was a municipality of 6000 residents, and highly industrialised. 57% of the working population was employed in industry. Metal, textile and plastic industries were the biggest employers, while only 12% of the population in Pohja got their livelihood from farming.
In the 1970’s, a post office, a bank, a pharmacy, a cinema, shops, a drugstore, schools, a library, a kiosk and a bar could be found at the Fiskars Ironworks. There were about 1000 residents in the area, 250 of whom worked in the two Fiskars factories. About 60% of the factory workers still lived in the flats owned by Fiskars in the beginning of the 1970’s. The rent was low, but the flats were modest. Most of them were old, there was no running water, they were in bad shape and some of them stood empty. At the same time, new flats were built, but naturally they had higher rent. By the 1970’s, the grand cowhouse was empty. According to the nearby residents, the only positive thing about it was that the flies disappeared with the cows. An amendment made keeping cattle unprofitable, and the 95 milking cows in Fiskars were butchered in the spring of 1970. In 1971, the last horse of the Fiskars company died.
Association activity had started to wane in the 1970’s. Despite that, the Fiskars company supported leisure activities, even though it proved difficult to get young people to take part. The young spent their time at the ironworks’ bar, and at nights played music so loud that it shook the place. They had records, mopeds and cars, and according to an article written in 1972, it was impossible to get them into libraries, or to become new members in the chess club. Fiskars had, for example, two sports clubs, two Martha associations and a chess and fishing association.
The people of Fiskars started to go more and more outside of their municipality. Already in the beginning of the 1970’s, they went to Karjaa and Tammisaari, and especially the young went to Tammisaari and Helsinki to shop. Even though there were several shops in Fiskars, often people still went to other municipalities.
C. E, Carlson: Fiskars 350. (1999)
Fiskars 1649 350 år finsk industrihistoria. Fiskars Oyj. (2009)
Kartila Hertta, Mannelin Pertti: Ruukkikadulta ja ruukkikadun liepeiltä, Oma Markka. (9/ 1972)
Muhkeat sakset. Kauppalehti. (16.2.1979)
Interview, LBA 3. Pohja localhistory archive
Lund, Rolf: Fiskars saxen – en historik om teknik angående de kända ”orangefärgade” (Fiskars scissors)
Exhibitions texts, Muovin vuosikymmenet (Plastic era), Lohja museum