Institut finlandais is presenting the exhibition Carte blanche à Hanna Anonen until 19 November 2022. The exhibition displays playful and surprising pieces by the designer, who was awarded Young Designer of the Year by Design Forum Finland in 2021. 

We sat down with the artist and talked about her creative process, the choice of materials and the importance of sustainability.


You create functional pieces with innovative shapes. Where do you find your inspiration?

I find my inspiration from different environments and just from everyday life. For example urban city areas and neighbourhoods are very good places to find inspiration.


How were the pieces chosen for this exhibition at Institut finlandais?

In the exhibition, I want to present my previous works which have found producers in Finland. Some works might be familiar from the SaloneSatellite exhibitions in Milan. Of course it’s always nice to show some new works too. Like at the gigs, the bands always play both good oldies goldies and then include something new.


How did wood become your preferred material? What other materials do you like to work with?

Wood is an ecological material that is easy to modify, has good durability and is also easy to update. In addition to wood I have also worked with soapstone material. The material came to my work desk through the cooperation of Mifuko’s company. Mifuko’s Kandili candle holders are made in Kenya and the design process went well because the Soapstone material is shaped with very similar tools as wood.


In a previous interview, you have mentioned the importance of sustainability and durability in your work. How do these values shape and affect your work as a designer?

Sustainable design thinking could be more focused on the way the material is used in a product. The choice of material is sustainable or ecological, and the material is chosen in a way that is perfectly suited to the intended use of the product. The material selections don’t really affect shaping, it’s the other way around.


Since you have been awarded Young Finnish Design Award in 2021, you have done an artistic residence at the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York during spring 2022, and your work is now exhibited at the Institut finlandais in Paris in autumn 2022. What are your thoughts on these two international opportunities and what are you hoping the outcome of these experiences to be?

I’m really humbled by all of these opportunities and want to thank all of you who made it possible. I really appreciate it. I will never forget these great experiences. I met a lot of people and colleagues, so I have made really important new contacts and networks. I hope to meet new interesting people for cooperation and to work together with companies for future projects.


What projects are you planning to work on next?

I’m working daily with my designs, playing with colours and writing my diary (i.e. my sketchbook). I have some nice projects going on at the moment that will soon be released. The following projects are related to new product designs. And it’s always important to share your own artistic work and I really enjoy it too.


Discover Carte Blanche à Hanna Anonen in Institut finlandais’ gallery and Café Maa, open from Tuesday to Saturday, 11am to 6pm until 19 November 2022.