“I want to transfer the vulnerability, frailty,
and beauty of nature into my own material, wood”
– Antrei Hartikainen
There’s an Italian nursery rhyme, Per fare un tavolo (to make a table) that starts by stating the very obvious fact that in order to make a table you first need wood, but what do you need to make wood? Well, a tree perhaps, and to make a tree what do we need? The ending of the rhyme and the lesson learned is that in order to make a table we’ll first start with flowers. What a lovely, innocent, idyllic and child-friendly idea that something that could be very mundane and artificial yet necessary and functional has such a pure, beautiful and natural beginning. While this lesson teaches children about the wonders of nature and it’s application in a man-made world, there’s one very essential part of this story that is left out, the skill and creative wonder from the human who crafted this table out of nature’s bounty. There’s an incredible amount of technical skill, hours and hours of tedious physical labor, that go into realizing these creative visions into the physical world. So to make a table, yes, we do need flowers but just as mother nature has her wonderous way of creating something from nothing so do our own craftsmen and craftswomen.
In Kukkii and Seitikki, Finnish craftsman Antrei Hartikainen mimics some night and day feelings into intricately crafted wooden sculptural works. Kukkii’s delicate, almost nervous fragility calls to mind a spring or early summer, day-dream with a gentle breeze whistling through meadows of flexibly dancing wildflowers. While the winds blowing through the darker Seitikki light structures bring a mysterious and deeper coldness to this environment, switching spring for fall and a lazy afternoon for the dead of night. This ebb and flow of a natural world in constant change is something that Hartikainen strives to emulate through an admittingly static and stagnant material, wood. By means of incredibly detailed and textural carving technique the surfaces, as well as the objects themselves, are brought to life in whichever environment they inhabit.
Hartikainen is a master cabinet maker but applies his woodworking skill over a vast range of objects, from functional design pieces to sculptural works to large scale installations. His creations have garnered increasing attention and his recent awarding of the Young Designer of the Year by Design Forum Finland reflects his novel and groundbreaking interpretation of his craft. His country contains some of the last truly wild places in Europe and although his works may be reminiscent of pristine natural spaces, Hartikainen doesn’t hide that this is certainly not the case everywhere in the world. His practice emphasizes the necessary steps we need to take as consumers, whether it is rethinking our value of objects or their origins, to ensure a thriving natural world and craft world for generations to come.
Y-Installation, 2017 for Seursaari Open Air Museum in Helsinki, Finland. Created together with Emmi Keskisarja, Janne Teräsvuori, Tommi Alatalo. Credits SWANG.
It can become easy with contemporary design to get lost in a world of man-made artificiality, why do you think it is important to remind ourselves as humans of the natural world we came from?
It is really important to keep all of the natural world as relevant as possible for new generations and for generations after. It happens all the time that some old techniques or know-how for material are disappearing. It’s a shame because use of materials and techniques have been so creative and raw. We would definitely need to keep alive all the possible “silent knowledge” that we can. Man-made artificiality isn’t giving the same kind of warmth, sensitivity, and trust than the natural world can offer to us.
Kukkii Instalation for Helsinki Design Week 2017. Colour design made by designer Laura Väinölä, Photography Kari Nyyssönen, Video Duotone.
What impressions or feelings that you get when you are in the Finnish nature do you want to convey in your works and inspire in your viewers?
It all begins with observing. I want to transfer the vulnerability, frailty, and beauty of nature into my own material, wood, by highlighting its most fascinating structural and aesthetic features. The form, dimensions and differing finishes are a result of examining the landscape molded by humans, climate and nature in different seasons, viewed from a range of distances and perspectives.
Vieno, 2018 deisgned with Katriina Nuutinen. Photo courtesy of the artist.
Forests in Finland contain such stark beauty and are some of the most preserved and still wild places in Europe, is it difficult to capture these sentiments and bring them into a domestic setting with design?
It is really difficult to bring the amazing form or atmosphere to your works from nature as you have seen and felt them in that place. So it can be easy to not catch the same highlights as you have sensed them in nature. That’s why there is a big risk that the works start to look and feel forced. There is a fine balance when creating works whose inspiration comes from nature.
Fossus °1, 2018-2019. Photo courtesy of the artist.
How did you begin working with sustainability and environmentally focused production?
For me, this comes naturally and it’s the only way of working I know. I haven’t decided in any particular moment, that now I need to start focusing on sustainability. It has been the way of working right from the beginning.
My main values have all been there. My meaning is to create long-lasting pieces visually and technically, with honest decisions through the process of designing and making. It’s possible with the thoughtful use of materials, techniques, and details. I want people who see and own my works to get inspired from the use of material, high-quality craftsmanship, finished details and aesthetic itself.
Fiori for POIAT design studio 2018. Photo courtesy of the artist.
The pieces you are creating for Crossovers are part of a series inspired with obvious inspiration from the forest, but they bring this together with more urban aesthetics, for example in street lights, is this a running theme across your works?
I observe the seasons, the effect of light and shadow in the environment, and attempt to transfer this delicate yet powerful transformation into my design. I spot interesting shapes and subjects in everything, from nature to architecture and our everyday environment.
Seitikki, 2019 Photography by Ville Vappula
Crossovers by Adorno will present a range of collections of dynamic works by independent designers from a selection of local scenes. The exhibition celebrates the designers and communities playing a central role in maintaining and renewing today’s local design and crafts cultures. Antrei Hartikainen’s work and the works presented in the Finnish Collection by Sebastian Jansson confront viewers with a contemplation on the real value of their goods, with objects that remind us of the our internal wilderness of our fantasies strongly rooted in our natural world. Presenting these works together with works from 10 other top design scenes from around the world creates a cross-cultural dialogue to examine the current state and future of contemporary design.
Credits: Kari Nyyssönen
Antrei Hartikainen (b. 1991) is a master cabinetmaker and designer from Finland known for his exquisite works in wood. The award- winning pieces, including functional products and pure artworks, achieve heights of sensuality, elegance and craftsmanship that place them with finest examples of modern Nordic carpentry.
Sensuality, elegance and the importance of craftsmanship are emphasized in Antrei Hartikainen’s work, which constantly seeks to challenge and blur the traditional categorizations between functional objects and visual arts.