In autumn 2019 Laura Väre was awarded Design Forum Finland’s Young Designer of the Year prize. Included in the award is a solo exhibition at Institut finlandais as well as participation in the IF Studios program. The solo exhibition, Carte Blanche à Laura Väre, opens at the institute in January and trails the designer’s minimalistic imprint from furniture to candlesticks. We met up with Laura Väre and had a talk about Paris and the significance of senses, creativity and curiosity.

You have just graduated from the master’s program of furniture design at Aalto University, before which you were also studying to become a metal artisan. How did you first get into design?

I used to go to a fine arts school as a child. I loved drawing and dreamed of becoming an artist. I have always known that I want to work on a creative career. After preliminary school, I started the metal artisan studies, where I also heard about furniture design for the first time. This lead me to study furniture design at the Lahti Institute of Design. My studies in Lahti more affirmed that I want to work as a designer, so I applied for Aalto University’s master’s program in furniture design.

Besides studies, I have also worked on different projects, taken part in competitions and presented my work in international fairs, all of which have gained me more expertise in design.

Laura Väre: 7 collection. Photography by Annikki Valomieli.

In 2019 Design Forum Finland awarded you as the Young Designer of the Year. The prize also includes a solo exhibition at Institut finlandais and a visit to the IF Studios. What kind of impact has this award had on your career?

I am extremely thankful and honoured to be given the prize, having also dreamed about it for a long time! The award will surely have a positive effect on my career, and I can see its impact already. I have been contacted and offered many exciting work opportunities, which have kept me nicely busy. I believe that in the long run, the award will have a very positive impact on my career.

Due to the prize, the past autumn has been rather busy for you and you have spent a lot of time on the road, lately in China and Lapland, to name a few. What kind of upcoming projects you have for the next year?

I can’t talk about the upcoming projects in much detail yet, but I have a few product design projects coming up. I also would like to participate in fairs in both Europe and Asia, with the intention to design new products for these events.

Laura Väre: AAVA. Photography by Aleksi Tikkala.
Laura Väre: Donut. Photography by Esa Kapila, Young Finnish Design.

Could you tell a bit more about your upcoming exhibition at the institute? Which selection of works will you present to us?

The exhibition at Institut finlandais will present my creations from the period of the last five years. The show will include an extensive selection of works from small objects to furniture, among which is, for example, the Ebba couch, the Hide lamps, the Po mirrors, the W chair and the Donut candlesticks.

I look at life with a curious attitude. I get inspiration to my pieces from the everyday things around me. It can be a shape, a light, a colour, an interesting material or a view that evokes emotions in me.

Which designers do you look up to? Where do you find your inspiration?

I wouldn’t say I have any proper idols. Obviously, I do admire many successful designers, but I also appreciate the work and outlook of many less-known designers.

I look at life with a curious attitude. I get inspiration to my pieces from the everyday things around me. It can be a shape, a light, a colour, an interesting material or a view that evokes emotions in me. It is important to always keep your senses open, and also collect the material you find interesting. In some instances, I start to design a product only with its purpose of use in mind, when I realise that something essential is missing. Working also feeds your creativity, and sometimes the inspiration might occur during the project.

Laura Väre: Ebba, Hide & Po. Photography by Aleksi Tikkala.

What kind of values do your working process and design reflect? What is your favourite material?

My design is very minimalistic, as I naturally tend to simplify things. For all my products, I always try to discover an original form or idea, which could stimulate interest in the spectator or the consumer. I aspire to design beautiful, functional and practical products that endure the test of time. I often combine different materials, because I like the contrast that sprouts between them, as well as all the structural possibilities different materials offer. I do not want to limit myself to a certain form or a material, but rather enjoy the variety and possibilities of working with different elements. My favourite material usually depends on what I’m working on.

Could you tell us a bit more about your creative process?

I usually start the design of a new product by sketching, either moving forward from the commission or more freely from my own starting point. My way of planning depends entirely on the project and my current emotional state. Usually, my sketches are mostly notes, after which I move on to finish the design on a computer. Occasionally I might outline the product very far by hand or even build a model straight out of an idea. When looking at the design from different angles, you might give the product a new shape or a concept. For instance, the Aava lamp came together through a paper model. I created the organic rims of the lamp by tearing the paper until I found the shape I was looking for from paper. This made the end result as coincidental and lively as possible.

Carte Blanche à Laura Väre is on view at Institut finlandais from January 17th through March 28th.

Laura Väre