There is a spot quite unknown to the rest of the world. A small village of about 4000 inhabitants that lies the middle of Finland and goes by the name Karstula. In August 2018 I spent a month there in an art residency called ArtRanta. During my stay, I met Markku Leppänen who runs a small sawmill close to the village.
On a visit to the sawmill, Markku showed me a pile of rotten birch that had previously been used in transportation as support beams and asked me whether I could design something out of it. Since the end of the 20th century, the furniture building industry in Finland has diminished and its demand for furniture wood has decreased. But as the country has a strong inclination toward forestry, huge piles of timber still accumulate, waiting to get used. Normally such material does not qualify for the furniture industry, which to me felt like a waste since there was something fascinating about the wood. When timber is left outside for years, the climate and humidity enable the wood to rot, creating a pattern in the wood. Each beam rots differently making each wood unique and interesting. I wanted to create something beautiful that celebrated this uniqueness. By designing a dining table, I was able to respect the material and showcase the captivating patterns of the wood end grains.
The Leppänen dining table utilises scrap material while embracing the natural imperfections of rotten timber. Each table varies depending on the patterns it displays. Assembling the body happens easily by sliding the legs into the frame and tightening a few bolts. When disassembled the table packs flat for efficient transportation.
LEPPÄNEN, 2018 750mm x 1440mm x 900mm Rotten Birch, Birch
Kiki was designed as a teamwork by Riku Toivonen and Shogo Tamura. Kiki is a new approach on modular picnic furniture. Stools, chairs and tables are easy to carry and assemble. Connecting the identical birch veneer modules together happens by tightening the straps. When taken apart, the pieces can be carried easily for example on the back rack of a bicycle. This project was a lot of fun and the design grew from multiple crazy ideas. To mention one, you could build stairs on a tree with Kiki modules.
KIKI, 2014 Design: Riku Toivonen & Shogo Tamura Modul size: 380 x 380 x 250 Birch Veneer
Goal for this project was to design puffy and soft products with a touch of humour. The design process has included a lot of laughing and having fun, this can be seen in the final prototype as well.
In small flats especially, there are often some problems with accommodating guests. When not needed, hiding the guest mattresses becomes a problem. This solution can be a permanent and usable part of the interior.
Ippe is a guest mattress that can be used as a coffee table and ottoman as well. There are two mattresses in each roll so there is a place to sleep for two persons. After placing the tray on top, the roll can be used as a coffee table.
Height 500 mm, Diameter 540 mm One Matrress: 500 x 2000 x 50 mm
Foam, fabrics: Gabriel Birch plywood, birch
Kolokolo is a sympathetic ceramic hanging lamp that fits above the dining table and other spaces creating a relaxed atmosphere. The design drew inspiration from clean and beautifull forms as well as an appreciation of ceramics as a material.
The word kolo means hole in Finnish. The two holes on the sides give the lamp its name. A heat formed grada handle can be connected effortlessly into the holes with two screws.
Most of the surface area is not glazed, only smoothed with sandpaper, creating a nice contrast with the glazed surface.
Diameter: 150-180mm Height: 165mm Ceramic, Handle: Grada plywood
The goal for this project was to design a collapsible bench with as little material waste as possible. The brief given for this bench was that it must carry two drunken people.
The project began through exploring how plywood bends when grooved. One of the key questions was: how is it possible to make furniture that looks compressed but still reverts back to the original flat form. The solution for bending without breaking the layers required many experimentations. When assembled, the bench locks into its final form after tightening the rope.
NYKÄNEN, 2014 1200 x 440 x 330 Birch plywood
COMPOSABLE COAT RACK
Inspiration for this work originates from nature, branches and trees, which has been brought out in a modern way into a new environment. Oksa is a finnish word which means a branch. By combining different kinds of pieces it is possible to compose trees of different shapes and sizes.
OKSA 2015 Tile size 200 x 200 Tile size 100 x 100 Ash, MDF
Omppu is finnish slang for apple. It is a hanging lamp made of glass that resembles an apple. It fits for example above the dining table and other spaces giving relaxed ambience.
The basic idea of this lamp is functionality and a visually multi-dimensional look. R3 consists of a tripod and an attachable lamp that can also be used as a flashlight. The lamp can easily illuminate an area equivalent of an A3-sheet and can be turned into a floor lamp by connecting it to a higher tripod. When unattached, it is easy to hang by its cord.
R3, 2013 Lighting Height 450 Steel bar, Birch
FLAT-PACK COAT RACK
Taneli coat rack was made possible by the use of laser cutting technique. Exploring order in various hallways showed that the solutions for keeping clothes in order are often tired and dated. Taneli is a fresh solution for hanging clothes and other items.
The structure originates from experimenting with paper folding. After folding the steel sheet, Taneli is attached to the wall by two screws. It is easy to combine several Tanelis and the combination creates an interesting and a fun-looking appearance.
TANELI, 2013 Sheet size 360 x 850 Steel Sheet
FLAT-PACK COAT RACK
Taneli Kakkonen is a flat-pack coat rack made from plywood. The starting point for the project was to design a product using water cutting technique and creating as little material waste as possible. Using water cutting technique makes the bending and reverting of plywood possible. A rope with knots attached to a wooden pole holds the watercut plywood in shape while on the wall. The wooden pole works as a hanger rail and the bended plywood as a shelf. The shelf reverts back to its flat form by pulling the ropes out of the grooves.
TANELI KAKKONEN, 2015 Flat size 650 x 600 Plywood
FLAT-PACK COAT RACK
The assignment for the project was to design products using watercutting technique. For a while I played with the idea of a flat pack hanger system where the hangers were all in order. After a time I felt the result boring and lacking character. Placing the hangers in an unusual composition made the product interesting again and also solved an issue with removing hangers without additional carvings. The thight grooves lock the hangers in their own places and they are easily removed by grabbing the outcoming part of the hanger.
TANELI KOLMONEN, 2016 Flat size on the wall 820 x 830 2 X 12mm Plywood
ISO-TANELI AND PIKKU-TANELI
Iso-Taneli is a clothing rack and Pikku-Taneli is a basket rack designed to fit the needs of urban living. The products offer additional storage room especially for small apartments and situations where beds are being used as cloak rooms. When not in use, the racks can be folded flat and stored away by flipping the frame. The baskets are designed for storing small items and can also be used as a portable recycling system for dry trash like paper, glass and metal. The baskets, that are made from thermo felt, are easy to connect and remove by one hand.
TANELI NELONEN, 2015
Coat rack Height 1350, Widht 700, Depht 500 Ash tree
Basket rack Height 850, Widht 340, Depht 320 Ash tree
Tuohinen sofa is the first prototype in a bigger product family for home- and working-environments. Inspiration for this project originates from weaving bark, only instead of bark, we knit colours.
Huge hammocks, sofas, lounge chairs and lounge mats can be made by knitting together various colored pillows.
With different furniture solutions we aim to have a positive influence on social interaction and atmosphere in different working-environments. This concept is a subject for our thesis as well. Project Tuohinen has been a lot of fun and continues to be.
TUOHINEN, 2015 Design: Riku Toivonen & Mikko Lanne
A hammock designed for public spaces is the third part of our thesis. While building this flexible hanging element we faced challenges unlike the ones we had handled in the previous processes. The hammock differs from the other products in the family with its massive size, bigger grid dimensions and technical solutions. The pillow tubes are connected to the bottom fabric by straps and fabric stickers. Colours and fabrics can be selected to suite different purposes.
TUOHINEN, 2016 Design: Riku Toivonen & Mikko Lanne
Hammock: 2000 X 2000 Fabirc: Cena 310, steel body, Birch
The second part of our thesis were the tatami-modules. They are designed for relaxation in working- and studing environments. The tatami-modules are light, easy to carry and quick to connect. After use the modules can be stored by placing them on the wall, where they work as acoustic elements. As with the other products in the family, colours and fabrics can be selected to suite different purposes.
TUOHINEN, 2016 Design: Riku Toivonen & Mikko Lanne
Sitting height 100, widht 1200 depht 600 Fabric: Cena 310, Birch plywood body