Our eMBA class spent a day as Shanghai World Expo. We visited different pavillions and joined a seminar at the Finnish pavillion Kirnu. There was endless discussion on what the expo is all about and who is it for. If 96% visitors are Chinese, is it too focused on China. Or isn´t it fantastic to have focus on Chinese market and having awareness in China.
Focus for different markets varied. Some countries presented a more touristic approach whereas others took a business or educational perspective presenting future opportunities within technology, science, medicine, design, fashion, industry.
Comparing Kirnu to other countries pavillions was difficult. I was excited but not impressed with any of them. In general I felt there were too many things in the pavillions and overall impression was lost to thinking what the message is. Africa was my favourite with a lively bazaar atmosphere. But mostly the messages were unclear. Norway had a good promise: nature as a source of energy. Expectations were built around a forest trail. First impression worked: "take a breath of fresh air". But after the entrance the atmosphere vanished, drowning the original idea and again filling the space with industry, tourism etc related content.
My expectation on Kirnu was a design experience with Finnish simplicity and brightness of the North. What I saw: images displayed on Kirnu walls focusing on green cities. Small display windows on various elements of Finnish culture and industry: sauna, lakes, childrens playrooms, fashion, design, technoloy, santa. I lacked a clear positioning and interaction. Visitors were trying to touch display screens but some of them were not to be touched. Helsinki design capital message was on a small sign at the end of the route. For me the most positive detail was from Nanso. They provided purses for sale with tigers on them (in honour of the year of the tiger, having done their homework).
Though I wanted to see a clear theme - be it Moomin valley, Punavuori design district or a Finnish catwalk, I heard Chinese themselves liked Kirnu. At least our queue was longer than the one at the Swedish pavillion.