Finnish Samuji attending Capsule in New York

Finnish Fashion brand SAMUJI will be part of CAPSULE Women’s fashion showing on September 15-17 2013 in New York. The brand started in 2011 with a collection for women, and for fall 2013 with a collection for men. SAMUJI’S story embeds love for the everyday, highlighting its simple functionality, and setting values for designs that are sustainable.  In addition, SAMUJI items are crafted from quality materials coming from European and Japanese suppliers, and are made in Europe. The flagship store is in Helsinki. SAMUJI is also sold in selected stores in Europe, Asia and North America. www.SAMUJI.com 

More information about the Capsule show including brands and event location here

Designer Mari Isopahkala // fresh whirlwind from the Milan Design Week

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: COULD YOU TELL A GREAT STORY FROM MILAN, AN ENCOUNTER, HOW WAS IT LIKE THIS TIME?
Mari Isopahkala: It was overall a great trip, although these design exhibition weeks are sometimes heavy. Meeting different people and professionals is very interesting and gives you back a lot. As I had to be standing a lot, and walk around long distances between the exhibit places, I kept changing my shoes to feel more comfortable. I got few great contacts. It will be exiting to see what these new things will bring me in the near future.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: HOW MANY TIMES HAVE YOU ATTENDED MILAN DESIGN WEEK?

Mari Isopahkala: Many times, I have not even counted. Not every single year during my active working years, but almost. It is already a very familiar place to me.
 
 
(Designer Mari Isopahkala with a ruffle carpet, 2009. Capture: Liisa Valonen. Above: Kristallit small glasses, Konkkaronkka cutlery for Marimekko, designed by Mari Isopahkala)
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: WHEN YOU WERE IN NEW YORK TWO YEARS AGO, WHAT DID THE CITY OFFER?

Mari Isopahkala: It was good to see what the industry is like in North America. What are the current trends there, who are participating in those trends, and so forth. New York City is definitely quite different from the North Europe. Commercialism and business are in a higher level in the North American marketplace. What I can say about Finland is that we tend to be not so good in selling and marketing. I still have so much to learn about it, and even about how to brand my products. What I admired in New York City was the openness of people, how they have positive energy and courage. They also seemed to be forward thinking.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Your design-language is very poetic, and perhaps minimalistic (or is this a stereotypy that is often attached to Scandinavian design?). In any event, how would you describe your designing?

Mari Isopahkala: Thank you, poetic is very beautifully put. Well, I would not consider minimalism as a stereotypical thing in the Nordic design. I think that minimalism comes so naturally. We are living that type of lifestyle, and it shows in the designs, which is unpretentious. This notion contains our products and our environment. I would describe my own design-language as clear, and yet personal. It does not shout too loud, yet it does not leave you cold. I hope that my designs are attractive as well. My products have some Ostrobothnian (Finnish) femininity in them. They comply strength, and also sensitivity.  

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: It is simply amazing that you are so diverse as a designer, you have interior design, jewellery, everyday objects, unique industrial design pieces, lighting design, and so on. Is there a design, which is closer to you personally and why?  

Mari Isopahkala: Yes, I like to do different things. It keeps my mind open and fresh, and very much helps to discover new things. When I look at the ideas from outside, I have to learn new things. This creates newness and innovation. I enjoy working together with skilled craftsmen from different industries. I have a huge respect for artisan’s skills.  If I had to pick one material, it would be glass. I am so intrigued by the practice in glass factories. It is hypnotic to watch the melting glass. It feels almost sensational.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Can you name a few of your mentors and inspirations, Finnish and international? 

Mari Isopahkala: I have many inspirations in art, design, and in the everyday life. I have not been following anyone’s path really, but I have been gaining inspiration from many great masters in the past and in the present. The environment where I live inspires me tremendously.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: How would you describe the essence of nature in your designs, the Finnish nature-urban dynamics? What comes to mind also is the Nordic nature with mythological traces, how it can be present in our consciousness. Is there room for utopia in your designs?

Mari Isopahkala: Nature is so important part of my life and that way it probably shows in my designs. It is not an absolute value but it is present. I have tried also other ‘domains’, and any kinds of oppositions interest me. I think I question existing myths in a good way. There is of course room for utopias in my designs. I have a need to move things forward towards the unknown paths.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Can design be masculine and feminine?

Mari Isopahkala: Good designer can utilize both, and then be without specificity of these qualities. Doing feminine or masculine design can be a conscious choice. I am very aware of my own choices. And I have used both of these two qualities. So I am trying my best.    

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: What are your future plans?  

Mari Isopahkala: There are many things, some of the plans are still in the air, so to speak, some on the other hand are in the process. Right now I have worked so hard that its time to start planning the summer. I believe that once you get some rest you gain new perspectives. Then it is also time to make next big decisions. 
1. greenhouse light, 2. viikari light in space, 3. viikari basis, 4. no jaa big sculpted light
5. furing jewellery, 6. winter pearl jewellery, 7. suma fiilis jewellery set,  8. kristallit fat glass

Finnish Paloni designers come to New York

MINNA SÄRELÄ is a founder of Finnish design collective PALONI, which is coming to New York this weekend to open a pop-up store during the fashion week. PALONI shop will be open through the end of February at the Ivana Helsinki NYC Concept Store. Their motto is: YOU CAN CALL IT DESIGN, INDIE FASHION, ART OR HANDICRAFT. WE CALL IT PASSION.

 

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Minna, I was so happy to hear that PALONI is coming to New York, tell me little bit about this ‘invasion’?

Minna: I founded Paloni one and a half years back, and lately started to feel that it’s time for the next step, broadening our scope and doing the first international project. New York opened as an opportunity through another Finnish fashion company Ivana Helsinki. After I got to discuss with their crew, things started going forward very fast. Our designers are very excited about this project and the possibilities it offers. We had a total of 37 Finnish designers joining the project, despite a very tight schedule for the preparations. Now it’s not just my project anymore, it’s something we do together. We have a group of 20 Finnish designers coming personally to New York, and together we will promote Finnish design and fashion know-how, build a pop-up store within the Ivana Helsinki NYC Concept Store. We will organize events and parties, network and build ourselves wider horizons for future dreams.

 
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: When you started the company-collective, who did you include, was it by invitation and with like-minded people?
 
Minna:  When I started, I had 45 designers that I represented. Now I’m trying to settle the number at about 80, although there would be much more demand and need from the designers’ side to join this kind of a platform or network. Still, I think it makes more sense both to our designers and customers that we can concentrate on the people we represent.

At first all of my co-operations with designers started by finding interesting labels or designers, and looking for cooperation. Now I get many requests every week from designers who would like to cooperate. I try to answer them all and to help them all, even if I think there’s something about their line or products they should still work on before going to the market.
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: HOW INTERNATIONAL IS PALONI?
 
Minna:
I see Paloni as “born global”. Even though we’ve only operated in Finland so far, our way of communicating in English, and with international vibes, have brought us international customers and connections, and made our network international. Also our designers come from across the globe, although this New York project concentrates on making Finnish designers’ skills better known.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: I learned from your website that you have been participating in eco- and sustainable fashion events, what have you learned about this field, and what are your thoughts about this trend?

Minna: I really wish it will not be just another trend among others, but rather a chancing force that will make the whole industry into something different and affect our behavior profoundly. I feel there’s much need for making ethically and ecologically sustainable options available and better known. I don’t believe the change comes from pressuring or from being negative. It needs to stem from each one of us. Personally, I feel that wearing a garment I respect in all ways makes me feel more balanced and respected, too. There’s a lot of discussion and information around this issue, and I’ve learned so much about the debates and aspects in the past years. However, I think offering information will not change it very much – we already get too much information every day. I think we rather need some easy and pleasant ways of loving fashion more sustainably. By bringing together tens of designers that represent this ideology and by offering their offerings as a holistic array and experience, we try to build sustainable design in a pleasant way, and include a wide enough collection to be part of it.
{All photos Paloni: Minna Särelä, captures: Sami Perttilä}

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: WHAT ARE YOUR NEW PROJECTS WITHIN PALONI, AND YOUR EVENTS?
Minna: Simply teamwork. By doing things in a committed team and by supporting each others’ potentials we can reach much more than with big money. The word ‘Paloni’ comes from the Finnish word “my passion”. When you have passion for something, it shows. And when it shows, others get excited too. And when that happens, impossible things become possible.
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: What do you expect from your visit in New York, how many times have you visited?

 

Minna: Although I haven’t been in New York many times, it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. I think each one of our designers have big and very different expectation. Personally, I expect networking, finding new inspiration and ideas, -these two things combined can lead the way to something new and unexpected.

Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Is Paloni hoping to bring the products here, or will operate via the e-shop?

Minna: The Paloni pop-up will be open inside Ivana Helsinki NYC Concept Store from February 11th until February 28th. This is a good chance to see, feel and try on the products in person. However, we also have an online store through which we have worldwide shipping at all times. The collection we’re presenting in New York are these designers’ new spring-summer collections. New Yorkers will have the privilege of getting to buy these items first – they will only become available in our Helsinki-store and our online store in March. Our online store has all this information in English, and can be found from www.paloni.fi/store
 
Firstindigo&Lifestyle: Welcome to New York!

Minna: Thank you! And welcome to our opening party on Wednesday Feb. 13th at Ivana Helsinki NYC Concept Store! We will have DJ Fiona Timantti playing Finnish music, and you’ll have the chance to meet our designers in person.
Read also story about Scandinavian Design in this blog

Check the Paloni website: http://www.paloni.fi/

Finnish design pop-up store in the Museum of Arts and Design (NY)

Starting end of this week, we can scan bits of Finnish design in a pop-up store in the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) foyer. The event is taking place soon, in 21-28 of October… Another great chance to get a glimpse to the 2012 World Design Capital…Helsinki and the surroundings. New York is promoting the uniqueness of Finnish design, as 2012 promises to be creating something extraordinary out of the concept thinking that is so true to contemporary design. The materials and products are connecting to the sustainable values, which global north now represents. ‘Arctic design’ is a concept, which will add dimension to Scandinavian design parameters and tradition. Finland’s architectural roots will be visible in Helsinki, so looking back in history is important. What is creating the contemporary presence, yet, is the remaking of the tradition. When looking back in the history of Finnish design, Alvar Aalto (among others) was not only an architect. His Aalto-vases have become well-known products around the world. His glasswork and furniture appear still in North American museums (MoMA, Philadelphia Museum of Art)… The conceptual thinking of adding different ingredients in the pot and then seeing and tasting what is the flavor of the ‘end-product’ describes today’s designs. Urban settings, architecture, city panning, environment, green values, greeneries, food-cultures, music, technologies, and so on, define what has value as a design. What still remains important is the craft and tradition to the content.

As Philadelphia Museum of Art was exhibiting Finnish design classics among its contemporary design exhibition in the summer,  Caroline Tiger wrote for The Inquirer (in May 20, 2011: “Philadelphia Museum of Art to open major contemporary design exhibition”): “Although the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s modern design collection has grown to be the biggest and best-regarded of any general museum in the country, it has lived mostly under the radar” . Saying that this ‘low profile’ exhibition in the Perelman building’s modern design gallery showed several interesting pieces from Finnish design masters, is quite modest. Furniture of Alvar Aalto, for example Armchair Model No. 31 (picture below),  ‘Kilta’ Tableware from Kaj Franck, and a pitcher, glasses and basket combo from Saara Hopea (in the picture above).

Forest echoes

I have recently been thinking the forest in the aesthetics. Patterns and wood structures are back in current interior design. The recent trends have been bringing the nature into our living spaces. This updated, seemingly nostalgic approach can be retrieved into decades of design innovation where arts and crafts were not that far from the  ideas of industrialism and mass-production. Nature, fall colors, flowing trees in the wind, curved themselves into airy designs.

This chair tro is by Finnish Interior architect Ilmari Tapiovaara (1914-1999), exhibited as part of his chair collection in R GALLERY, in New York’s Franklin street in the Spring of 2011. I loved to see the chairs which were so familiar from my own childhood.  Did that red chair ever get to ‘mass-production’, or how do we define ‘mass-production’? The individual craft is still speaking to us its simple organic language.

The R GALLERY’s approach to research and innovation behind their design curating (for 10 years now) is an achievement. They have been picking trends, which have value for the future developments in the industry, giving priority to individual craftsmanship in the design and supporting innovation, which stands for sustainability, form and aesthetics in the works.

(Tapiovaara’s exhibition catalog is available in here)