Antrei Hartikainen is a Finnish master cabinetmaker and designer, whose works are currently exhibited as part of our Ensemble ! with Lokal Gallery design & craft boutique. Maison & Objet, the organiser of Paris Design Week, recently announced Hartikainen as one of the laureates of the Maison & Objet 2024 Rising Talent Award. We had a chance to sit down with Hartikainen to hear about his latest news, his creative work and his feelings about the upcoming visit to Paris. 


Antrei, the last time your works were exhibited at Institut finlandais was in 2019, after you had been named Young Designer of the Year in Finland. Could you tell us, what has happened in the last five years — for example, has your creative work changed? 

A lot has certainly happened. At that time I was just starting my own business and I was doing design alongside my other work. Now I’ve had quite a few years to pursue design and art full-time. My working environment itself has also changed and I now have my own workshop and studio. My job description itself is still quite similar: I still combine design with artisanship and wood remains my main material. 


You are one of the laureates of the Maison & Objet Rising Talents Award this year, focusing on Nordic creation. Is there something particularly Finnish or Nordic in your design? 

Perhaps the Finnishness and being in this latitude is reflected in the use of nature as a source of inspiration. A certain seasonality, and the observation of how the environment changes in the northern hemisphere is reflected in my works, especially in more sculptural ones like the Melt vases. This is certainly a rather traditional Finnish connection. 

Courtesy of Antrei Hartikainen


About the Melt-vases. Could you tell us about their creation process? 

The Melt series started out as a range of wooden objects and furniture and has since then taken off in many directions. I was given the opportunity to go to a small glass workshop called Lasismi, in Riihimäki, to experiment with glass. These tests gave rise to this idea of a mould, from which the melt-glass series was created. The Melt-vases are based on the idea of an extendable mould, where you can make several sizes of vase from one mould in one blowing day. 

In practical terms, there is a wooden mould, which I have designed and built, and then a mass of glass is blown into it, creating the surface structure and liveliness. Because the mould is wooden, it always changes slightly with use, which is why this vase series lives and evolves with it. The finishing touches include numbering and signing the vases, and sanding and polishing their surfaces. The process is ultimately quite simple, but it is a collaborative one. 


Your production is broad, ranging from utility objects to sculptural pieces. How to approach the relationship between art and functional objects?

My approach is based on my practical, cabinetmaking background. Especially in the past, I was very much focused on the fact that my works need to have a function: they are furniture or utilitarian objects. This is probably due to the concrete nature of woodworking. But I have then wanted to create a sculptural element in them, so that practicality does not limit creativity in the process so much. And maybe this has still changed a bit in recent years. You can have an object, a sculpture or an installation that serves no purpose. In my case, this aspect has come alongside the rational cabinetmaker approach. But yes, I still feel I can make the best use of my own skills when I combine functionalism and sculpturalism. 


Do you have some design icons who have inspired your creative work?

I admire people working in the design and art world who can combine craft with the present day in a way that is based on a technique and a skill, but is not really traditional: people who have created their own style and way of doing things. Among the so-called Finnish masters, I could mention Tapio Wirkkala. What fascinates me about him is how he has made his own models and designs, and has been very involved in the concrete process of making. 


So, you are coming to Paris for the 2024 Design Week. What are your plans for the trip? 

Mostly I’ll be at the Maison & Objet design fair presenting a selection of my recent works, especially my design and sculptural pieces. Otherwise I will probably visit some galleries, and enjoy the city life! 


Maison & Objet has selected Antrei Hartikainen as one of the laureates of the Maison & Objet 2024 Rising Talent Award. Read more here


We have previously had a chance to interview Hartikainen in 2019, after he had won the Young Designer Award in Finland in 2018 and his works were exhibited in our gallery. Read the interview here: 


Text by Saara Lehtonen