THE GRIFFIN, 2015, text, animation, 3min loop
The Griffin mystifies a story of the oldest corporate logo still used in Finland. The logo was designed by the famous Finnish artist Hugo Simberg as a result of a competition. The symbol that merges an eagle and a lion is known as a griffin. It becomes an odd offspring of the commercial connections and aspirations of the late 19th century between Russia and Finland (which was a part of the Russian empire at the time). The forest industry company sought to find a symbol that would ease and aid the commerce and also create a strong image for the company. The national symbols of both nations combined are a mark of the heritage of the joined history but also a symbol for the practices of today.
A legendary figure became the symbol of a major corporation as the result of a competition. Towards the end of the 19th century, it was decided there was a need for a distinctive trademark to be introduced, most notably for trade with Russia. One of the predecessors of the present corporation turned to two well-known artists, with a request for a suitable design. The illustration of a griffin was the chosen winner and purchased by the company in 1899. The image was thereafter approved for official use a couple of years later.
The part eagle and part lion is known as a griffin. Originally, it was a mythical beast, which was a popular heraldic symbol with its head and wings of an eagle and body and tail of a lion.
The oldest griffins can be found in the fables of Assyria and Babylon, but they subsequently appeared in many different guises in e.g. Egyptian and Persian art. They made their way to Europe via ancient Greece and the English word ‘griffin’ is in fact of Greek origin (Greek gryps, Latin gryphus), from which it passed into many of the modern languages of Europe (English griffin, French griffon, German der Greif, Swedish grip).
One very probable reason for choosing a mythological animal is the symbolic message of the griffin, an animal that transferred to a northern context, watched over the green gold inherent in the forests. In legend, griffins not only mated for life, but if either partner died, then the other would continue the rest of its life alone, never to search for a new mate. Today the symbol is the oldest corporate logo used continuously in Finland throughout its history.