Contra Naturam Bench

The Finnish Designer Using a Traditional Moroccan Wall-Surfacing Technique to Make Furniture

Amsterdam-based designer Tuomas Markunpoika aims for “tedious functionality” in his designs, but to us there is mystery and wonder in the bulbous, colorful slabs of material that compose his furniture. His new series of works is called “Contra Naturam,” or against nature — a mauve bench, a coffee table and chair in grayish and springy greens, and a side table and console in pale yellow and cream. Each looks cut from the earth or plucked from a stage set, at once natural and totally fake.
More
kajfranck_goblet_2

Set Your eBay Alert for These Amazing, Vintage Kaj Franck Goblets

Our jaws hit the floor in utter surprise and delight last week when, in the process of researching our underrated glassware story, we discovered a glass-related pastime of Finnish designer Kaj Franck's that we had no idea existed (and one that pretty much flies in the face of what we always thought of as his minimal, MCM oeuvre): making elaborate art-glass goblets.
More
Pic11

Meet the Up and Coming Finnish Illustrator Behind the Sight Unseen Suitcase Print

Earlier this year, when we began to think about who might design the pattern that would adorn the interior of the Arlo Skye x Sight Unseen suitcase, we first established a few parameters: We wanted the suitcase to be more sophisticated than playful, but to still embody the warm, colorful, graphic sensibility that we tend to favor. We needed the print to repeat, but we wanted the pattern to have the illusion of being more random. And we hoped that we might be able to shine a light on a lesser-known, up-and-coming talent.
More
Iittala_Birds_NYC_2

An Oiva Toikka Bird Inspired by Sight Unseen’s New York

Earlier this year, Iittala invited us to be a part of its Bird and the City series, in which we — along with four other bloggers around the world — were tasked with helping glass artist Oiva Toikka to create a bird dedicated to each of our respective hometowns: New York, Tokyo, Helsinki, Shanghai, and Paris. The blue and white swirled critter above represents not just New York, but our New York.
More
We also noticed this amazing steel sculpture in the yard of one of the artisans on the main street; we later learned it was the work of Howard Smith, an American-born artist who moved to Fiskars in 1998 with his wife, the ceramicist Erna Altonen (more on this sweet couple later!)

In Finland

If you’re a longtime reader of this site, you know that we are, above all, sunshine-seeking people who happen to be inextricably linked to New York and its fickle seasons. Normally we leap at the chance to hightail it off the East Coast anytime between November and April, in search of beaches, pools, palm trees, and vitamin D. But somehow, while Monica and the rest of the design world headed to Miami at the beginning of December, I found myself saying yes to a week in Finland, home of 30-degree temperatures and 3PM sunsets. When I arrived, no fewer than three people delighted in telling me that the previous month in Finland had seen only 15 hours of sunshine.
More
inka_2

Inka Järvinen, Graphic Designer and Printmaker

Finnish graphic artist and designer Inka Järvinen began her career with a degree in fashion from Helsinki University of Art and Design in 2005. But after graduating, she quickly discovered she preferred designing in two dimensions to three. So what do you do when you hold a diploma in something that doesn't suit your true passion? You follow those dreams back to school and get yourself a second degree! Armed with a BA in graphic design, Järvinen went on to co-found Tsto, a design agency whose hotshot clients include Artek, Levi's, and Nokia, and she continues to work on solo projects in her spare time. We especially love her graphic prints, controlled yet unpredictable. They're clean, and perfectly executed by someone that clearly understands the principles of balance, line, and pattern. We've excerpted some of our favorites after the jump.
More
FINNS3

New Finnish Designs in Aalto’s House, on Nowness.com

Sighted today on Nowness, a post celebrating the opening of Helsinki Design Week — and the year of design events taking place in the Nordic capital in 2012 — with a photo essay featuring contemporary furniture and lighting by eight established and up-and-coming Finnish designers, shot inside Alvar Aalto's house. Located in the Munkkiniemi neighborhood of Helsinki, the meticulously preserved home provides the perfect backdrop for work created by a generation of designers who, living in such a tiny country, must all inevitably feel the influence of Aalto's outsized legacy — visually speaking, the project also reminded us of our favorite installation at the 2010 Milan Furniture Fair, when contemporary furniture was inserted into the hallowed rooms of Piero Portaluppi's Villa Necchi Campiglio. The Nowness story was beautifully shot by the young French photographer Estelle Hanania, and we've excerpted half of those images here.
More