Institut finlandais
© Katja Hagelstam

Villa Aakula

Ville Aakula is a carpenter and designer from Turku. Most of the time he does commissioned work for customers, but he also designs and produces unique pieces and small-scale series for sale.

“Making by hand is complete presence, which I enjoy. I try to live in the moment so changing and altering plans is also part of the process. The main thing is that each product brings joy to its end user.”

© Katja Hagelstam

Alpo Ahokas

Alpo Ahokas is a Finnish basket maker and seller with almost 60 years of experience in shingle basket crafting. He has been selling his pieces for 30 years, holding summer stalls in Senaatintori and Hakaniemi markets, among others. 

Ahokas makes shingle baskets using the traditional method of hand-pulling shingles from forest trees, which are then woven into baskets of various shapes for everyday uses, such as berry picking, or for interior decoration. The strong structure of the baskets is solely based on the binding of the shingles together, without the use of nails or staples to fasten the parts together.

© Bjørn Mikladal

Saija Halko

Saija Halko is a Helsinki-based ceramicist and designer. She works in her studio on a small scale production of ceramics. Her way of working is based on a deep knowledge of the material and hands-on methods. Halko holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ceramic and Glass Art, and a Master’s degree in Product and Spatial Design from Aalto University, School of Art, Design and Architecture.

”I like to think that objects are more than just material. At best, they relay emotions and tell stories of a life lived. In my experience, objects connect us to other people and history, allowing us to interact with others. That’s why their existence is so important to us. 

© Ville Vappula

Antrei Hartikainen

Antrei Hartikainen is a master cabinetmaker and designer from Fiskars, known for his exquisite works in wood. His award-winning pieces, including functional products and artworks, achieve heights of sensuality and elegance, and highlight the importance of artisanship. His work constantly challenges and blurs the traditional categorisations between functional objects and visual arts. Hartikainen’s sculptural approach can be studied through his organic body of work, which simultaneously highlights the inspiration drawn from his material of choice — wood.

“It is inspirational to transfer the strong imprint and beauty of nature into wood by bringing to the fore its most fascinating structural and aesthetic features. Shapes, scales and different types of surfaces come into being by studying landscapes moulded by humans, the climate and nature in different seasons is seen from different distances and perspectives.”

© Lotta Avelin

Linda Laitinen

Linda Laitinen is a mother, wife, and entrepreneur who loves walking in the forest, eating in restaurants, and spending time with loved ones. The self-described stubborn, happy and self-taught wood designer makes wooden kitchenware and interior products from Finnish wood at her workshop in Espoo. Making ecological choices is a matter close to her heart, and shows strongly in her products. Wood, as a material, fascinates her. Hardwood like juniper moulds the shape with its grain even when carved, giving her works a unique and natural form with a rustic look.

“I want to break traditional ideas and make beautiful and exceptional items that you will not want to hide in a drawer. On top of this, my products are both sustainable and functional. When you wash and care for your product correctly, you can use it for many years to come.”

© Ruut Lahdenmäki

Natalie Lautenbacher

Nathalie Lautenbacher is a Franco-Finnish ceramicist and designer who graduated from the Department of Ceramics and Glass at the University of Art and Design, Helsinki in 1999. Ever since, she has been creating tableware collections renowned for their delicate colour, subtle form and strong personal touch. Each year brings new additions to the ceramics family, with each unique object diligently created by pouring coloured porcelain into a plaster mould.

Lautenbacher has designed functional homeware for Arabia and Iittala and has also worked in the Japanese ceramics industry. Her designs can be seen in several restaurants across the world, as well as in private and museum collections. She has received several prizes, such as the 2002 Design Plus award in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Bronze Award of the Mino Competition in Japan in 2005 and 2014. In 2008, she won the Young Designer of the Year prize in Finland. 

“Tableware is much more than just platters or containers for food. I think it adds comfort to everyday life. An archetypal bowl or cup, even if it’s an age-old functional item, tells a story of something bigger — about sharing or stowing. That’s why making one remains interesting from one year to another.”

© Katja Hagelstam

Laura Pehkonen

Laura Pehkonen is a ceramics and visual artist living in Helsinki, who graduated with a Master of Arts (TaM) from Aalto University in 2014. In recent years, she has realised large-scale public ceramic wall works, commissioned by for example Helsinki Art Museum HAM, Vaasa Hospital and the State Works of Art Commission. In addition to ceramics, Pehkonen works with wood and mixed media paintings in her studio. Pehkonen’s works are unique abstract sculptures and paintings that leave freedom of interpretation to the viewer. 

“In my works, I basically study contrasts, proportions, the balance of the work and the feeling of presence. Regardless of materials or techniques, I am willing to experiment. Instead of repeating the same thing, I stimulate myself by working with various materials and techniques and exploring their dialogue in my works. Although I am inquisitive and playful when I work, I am basically interested in quite classic, timeless materials. I also have a need to leave a trace of the process in my works, that kind of incompleteness. Perfect imperfection.”

© Katja Hagelstam

Julia Töyrylä

Julia Töyrylä is a designer, glassblower and soon to be interior architect who studied Industrial Design at Lahti Institute of Design. During her studies, her new-found fascination with glass led her to take a two-year glass-blowing course at Nuutajärvi Glass Village, Finland. She sees hands-on work as a key part of design and finds new ideas through playful experimentation. These ideas are often revelations about everyday life, which helps her create thoughtfully designed functional items.

“The value of a space or a product comes from its background and story. It is these factors that make them cherished and used by generations.”

© Elina Simonen

Milla Vaahtera

Milla Vaahtera is a designer and an artist working in Helsinki. The themes of her works extend from body image to intuition and dialogues in the creative process. She is most known for her Dialogue series, mobiles and stabiles, in which she combines bold glass parts with delicate brass. Vaahtera began to work on this series in May 2017 together with several glassblowers from Nuutajärvi Glassvillage. She is passionate about reviving the Finnish heritage of glassblowing and giving the young generation of makers new opportunities to deepen their skills.

Vaahtera graduated as a Master of Arts in 2010 from Aalto University. Her work has been featured in several exhibitions, galleries and museums internationally, including the Design Museum Finland, Artek Helsinki, Minä Perhonen, Lokal Helsinki, Galerie Philia and UU Market.

”Glass is like me, spontaneous and organic.”

Akira Minagawa © minä perhonen

Lapuan Kankurit & minä perhonen

Lapuan Kankurit is a linen and wool weaving family business with roots that go back to 1917, when the family founded its first textile factory. Today, Lapuan Kankurit is run by a fourth generation of weavers together with skilled and committed top weaving professionals. Lapuan Kankurit weaves responsibly, respecting the environment and opposing environmentally damaging, short-lived and cheap production. Their work is transparent and all materials can be traced back to their origin. They use only natural raw materials such as linen and wool. 

In the Ensemble ! with Gallery Lokal, we are presenting tissues by Lapuan Kankurit made in collaboration with Japanese textile and clothes designer Akira Minagawa. Minagawa is known for his minä perhonen fashion label which is inspired by the Finnish nature: Perhonen means ‘butterfly’ in Finnish. Minagawa combines his inspiration for the nordic into his own cultural origins to create his unique and popular style. He also wants to transcend the limits of fashion by giving a timeless beauty to his clothes.

In 2023, we had the opportunity to interview Jaana Hjelt of Lapuan Kankurit. Read the interview here.

© Ananya Tanttu

Curator Katja Hagelstam

Katja Hagelstam is the curator of this collection. She is a photographer and founder of the Lokal gallery, an award-winning concept store in the heart of Helsinki. As a freelance photographer, Katja has worked for numerous magazines and books, particularly in the fields of art, design, interior decoration, gastronomy and lifestyle, which has enabled her to develop her own artistic vision and approach.

Following her inspiration, she decided to create a space to showcase the handmade pieces of young local Finnish artists, craftspeople and designers and opened Lokal in April 2012. Differentiating herself from often intimidating art galleries, Katja’s idea was to create a cosy, home-like environment where art becomes interactive, accessible and sustainable, embodied in everyday pieces that can be passed down from generation to the next. A platform for both established and emerging artists, Lokal received the Finnish Design Deed Award in 2015 and the Finnish State Design Award in 2017.