Sunday, March 12, 2006

OBJECTS FORGOTTEN

There are quite a few things we would like to be taken into production again. Over the years many forgotten classics, such as Aarnios ball chair, have been rediscovered after the market created a demand for them. But we will list our selection here:

Olavi Hänninens chair for the Hotel Palace Café:

Olavi Hänninen, born 1920, studied industrial design and got work at the departement store Stockmann in 1948 where he drew interiors for the furniture section. Finland was to host the olympic games in 1952 and a hotel by the name of Palace was created in order to host the large amount of people that would arrive. In the hotel there was a café and for this café, Hänninen drew chairs. The chair consisted of a metal structure with an acrylic seat. And these chairs do not exist anymore. They have vanished. I do not know whether they were ever taken into larger production or if only the small batch for the café were made. The hotel was renovated on two occasions but the café still exists. As often happens with renovations, the interior gets thrown away and I believe this is what happened. If someone knows any more about it please inform me.

The chair is also listed here as an acrylic chair.


Merivaara functionality furniture and plywood stools

Merivaara is nowadays a hospital equipment manufacturing company but it used to be a forerunner in functional design of the 20's and 30's with the designs of Pauli Blomstedt. Later it also produced the 1950's furniture of Ilmari Tapiovaara and Antti Nurmesniemi. In the 1960's Ola Kettunen designed a series of chairs made out of bent plywood. There were armchairs, rocking chairs and stools. It is the stool that we especially like. Simplicity in action. A bent seat. Two cut out holes. Black legs. Exquisite.

You can see examples of their functionality furniture here and here as the Helsinki university has scanned some of the publications they have in stock. Nice to see that some of our tax-euros are well spent.

These are only two of many things we wish could exist again. We will add more later.




On a happy note: Arabia has taken Birger Kaipianen's Apila into production again. Designed in 1971, it quickly disappeared from the shelves and it became a rarity on the second hand market. It is only sold to the end of this year, so hurry up!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

PALASET

I first started collecting Palaset (Bits/Pieces) when I saw that Antti and Vuokko Nurmesniemi
had built a system of shelves with them. They must at least had one hundred of them.

The man b
ehind the boxes is Ristomatti Ratia. He is the son of Armi Ratia, the founder of Marimekko. A plastic producing company in Finland, Treston Oy, struck a deal with Ristomatti on creating something new for the factory in Turku. A product that could utilize the moulds that the factory specialized in. The year was 1972.

The idea with Palaset was to create a custom storage system for homes of different sizes. The cubes could be bought individually and with different accessories. The boxes could be fitted with other boxes inside so that you could build your own system. Everything came in the colors white, brown, yellow, red and green. Smaller
boxes for office supply use were also available. Palaset were exported in enormous amounts and they became hugely popular nationally as well. Then the oil crisis occured.

In the early 80's Ristomatti Ratia updated Palaset using a different plastic and they were again taken into production for a while. They were
however not as good as the original.

I currently own 42 boxes and I'm still buying them. I've acquired most of them as single boxes but I've also bought them in packs at auctions. People have started to realize their value and you seldom see them now. This is somewhat strange considering the amounts that were produced.

An updated picture on some of the cubes. I'm up to 54 now - August 2008.

EGO

In May of 1996, the ceramic company Arabia approached Stefan Lindfors with a proposition. Lindfors, then in his early thirties, had already shown himself to be a bold designer with an eye for what's next. They wanted him to design a new set of cups. Cups for a new generation of coffee consumers.

Lindfors took on the challenge and the mouthwatering result was presented to the public in Frankfurt in 1998. The cups came in three sizes and they were to be called Ego. Beauty and functionality in one package. The small cups were for espresso, the middle for coffee and the large for latté. The cup together with its handle fit snuggly into the saucer and the saucer fit onto the next cup if stacked on top of each other. The different sized cups also fit onto each other. The series was completed with plates and bowls in the year 2000. The color of the series is white but as one can see in the pictures, the espresso cup was temporarily decorated with a bull's head in black. Supposedly modelled after the designer. You can see where he came up with the name of the cups.

We drink our coffee with these cups. Not tea, not coco, just coffee. That's what they are made for. Whenever we go abroad and need to bring presents from Finland, we bring these. We just love them. Let us congratulate Stefan on a work well done.

Arabia Ego cups are easily acquired via the web at Finnish Design Shop.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

TEAK

Antoher one of our favorites of the past century is objects in teak, rosewood and other nobel variants of wood.
Since teak is endangered it is no longer freely available and the teak we see now is grown, making it expensive. In the late 40's/early 50's up until the 70's, teak and other types of darker wood became available to furniture manufacturers in the western world. Teak had previously been used by shipbuilders for it's unique advantages when in contact with water, but it was now being put to use for other things because of it's exotic nature. It was also seen as a durable material that suited for use in everyday things.

Teak came at a point when a postwar prosperous world wanted something new. The swelling
conflict in Korea and Indochina locally requiered new roads and campsites, and trees were cut down and cheaply exported to among others the Nordic countries. During the 50's and 60's is was favoured in furniture production and the Danes came to be known for it's high quality tables, chairs and sofas. One could mention Finn Juhl and Hans Wegner.

Teak and rosewood was not extensively used in Finland but you can still find some furniture from the time. Finland was accustomed to light types of wood such as birch and pine and these were more often used, but teak was
sometimes replicated by darkening light wood. There was not a large production of bowls and other products in teak but perhaps Backman was one that stands out. You can find objects made by local Finnish entrepreneurs in small scale. Teak and rosewood was however sometimes used in lamps and as a compliment to metal and plastic in chairs, trays and other products. Sweden and Denmark had a far superior production of teakobjects.

I buy all the original teak I can get my hands on - bowls, sculptures, candleholders and so on. There will not be a similar period in a long time.
ENAMEL

Always when I find designed enameled items, I buy them . There used to be a large production of enamel in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark but no more. Finnish Finel, Swedish Kockums and Catrineholm , Norwegian Emalox and Danish Torben Ørskov all made beautiful objects that are sought after today. Especially enameled signs are valued among collectors.

Enamel is created by applying glass in powder form to a metal, ceramic or glass surface and heating it at high temperatures. This creates a hard, durable surface which can stand most outside stress. These abilities made it popular in kitchenware, outdoor surfaces and other objects that had to stand e.g. heat and strong weather. The practice of making enamel has been known for thousands of years.



It was only later in the mid 20th century that enamel started to be used on other objects as well. Artists found that one could use enamel to create beautiful jewellery, table tops and household objects. The furniture section at the great department store NK in Stockholm sold great tables in enamel by artists such as Algot Törneman and Stig Lindberg. See an example by Lindberg here.


In Finland designers such as Antti Nurmesniemi and Kaj Franck used enamel as a way of creating new modern objects that gave a splash of colour to the perhaps grey existence. Later Heikki Orvola and Bertel Gardberg also used enamel for kitchen objects. Franck won the Grand Prix at the Triennale in Milano in 1957 for his colourful bowls in five different sizes.

Let's hope there will be a new wave of enamel sweeping over us soon.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

THE NURMESNIEMI POT

One of our favorite objects is Antti Nurmesniemi's pot from 1957. It came in two different sizes in the colours red, yellow, brown, blue, dark blue, white, selected by his wife Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi. Inside there was a filter for brewing coffee, resulting in many of the pots you find today having a brown interior.


The pot is enamelclad iron with a plastic handle and top. The handle is placed so as not to get too hot when kept on the stove. It was very modern for its time and still is. Nurmesniemi was contacted by Wärtsilä, a engine maker and former owner of among others Arabia, to create a new product for the factories in Pietarsaari in Ostrobotnia, Finland as orders were at a low at the plant. The pot became a huge success and was manufactured well into the 1970's. Nurmesniemi himself said this about it: "it is one of few household products of its time that bridged the increasing gap between city and countryside"

I remember a time when the pots were quite easily found a fleamarkets and other places but today they have almost um but disappeared. This is perhaps due to a increasing domestic interest into 50's design but I also believe that it can be blamed on certain individuals shipping
them abroad to e.g. Japan, where pots can fetch up to 150 €. I wish we could protect our artifacts better and not be sorry in 50 years.









The pot has recently been relaunched in a series of 2500 pots in 10 colours. The web page is here. The price is 159 € (but you get a t-shirt as well)