Artek, who has just come out with their first flagship store in Japan in April 2019, announced the “FIN/JPN Friendship Collection” to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Finland and Japan this year. Seven collection series unite traditional craftsmanship with contemporary and classic designs from both cultures, created by leading Japanese and Finnish designers, architects and craftsmen.
The first series of the Friendship Collection started selling in December 2018 and January 2019. The rest were presented at Milan Design Week in April 2019, set to be sold at Artek stores in Finland, the new shop in Omotesando, Tokyo and other places.
Introduction of the FIN/JPN Friendship Collection
Stool 60 “Ystävä”
The classical Stool 60 also popular in Japan turned into a special stool with the name “Ystävä,” meaning “friend” in Finnish. The natural textures and patterns of the wood are part of the design, making the stool to have special warmth and link to nature. Available in Japan only, until the end of 2019.
Aino Aalto’s cotton textile “Kirsikankukka” is re-introduced, hand-printed in Kyoto, at a family-owned print-house specializing in vibrant kimoto prints. The design was inspired by a gift given to Aino in 1933 by Madame Ichikawa, the wife of a diplomat working at the Japanese Embassy in Helsinki at that time. Delighted and inspired, she created the Kirsikankukka (meaning cherry blossom in Finnish) pattern as an homage to Japanese textile art and design.
Stool 60 Aizome
Stool 60 Aizome brings together Alvar Aalto’s iconic design with a traditional Japanese colouring technique called “aizome,” created by indigo-dye specialist named BUAISOU from Tokushima prefecture. Unlike indigo which is an artificial dye used for dyeing denim, “aizome” is a technique of dyeing by using 100% natural Japanese “Ai” leaves, giving the stool a characteristic deep blue. Available in Japan only.
Book “Pieces of Aalto”
Akira Minagawa, Japanese fashion and textile designer who also is the Friendship Envoy of the 100th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Finland and Japan, has a longstanding friendship with Artek. The book “Pieces of Aalto” is a visual dialogue between Minagawa and the Aalto couple, who he sincerely admires. He made drawings from the images of Aaltos’ products and architectural shapes, interpreting them in his own way that they become poetic patterns and quirky creatures.
Ceramic series “Secrets of Finland” (scheduled to be sold from July 2019)
Finnish-Korean design duo COMPANY created 6 ceramic objects to celebrate the Centennial year. Objects such as flower vases and candle holders are both decorative and functional, having seasonal stories to tell from Finnish culture.
ColoRing furniture series (scheduled to be sold from Autumn 2019)
Architect and designer Jo Nagasaka applies his experimental ColoRing surface treatment to Aalto’s classic Stool 60, Bench 153B and Tea Trolley 901. ColoRing is merger of two age-old Japanese methods, Udukuri and Tsugaru-nuri, resulting in a surprising color combinations and irregular patterns.
Kiulu Bench (scheduled to be sold from Winter 2019)
Inspired by the public bathing cultures of Finland and Japan, architect and designer Koichi Futatsumata created the versatile “Kiulu Bench.” Kiulu meaning “tub” in Finnish, it can be used as a seat or storage space to place towels, magzines and toys, for example. The Kiulu Bench embodies Futatsumata’s commitment towards material and detail.
Artek- Art & Technology since 1935
Artek was founded in Helsinki in 1935 by four young idealists: Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl. Their goal was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living through exhibitions and other educational means.” In keeping with the radical spirit of its founders, Artek today remains an innovative player in the world of modern design, developing new products at the intersection of design, architecture and art. The Artek collection consists of furniture, lighting and accessories designed by Finnish masters and leading international designers. It stands for clarity, functionality and poetic simplicity.
All photos: © Artek 2019