Conversation with Antti Kotilainen

© Studio Antti Kotilainen

New for 2013, Arper will unveil Aava, an evocative form enhanced by the warmth of wood. The Aava chair was designed by Design Office Antti Kotilainen, a Helsinki-based practice that specializes in furniture design, product design and complete visual concepts. Here, Arper checks in with Antti Kotilainen on the use of wood as a material and his newest design: Aava.

© Marco Covi

What is your approach to design?
Design work is based–quite inherently–on observation. A designer observes his environment, his own emotions and life-experiences, and also the work at hand. Only by observing closely the world around him–culture and nature alike–can a  designer come up with products that he knows will enhance one’s surroundings and to be of use to many.

What is your philosophy on furniture design?
All pieces of furniture take their size and their basic gestalt from the human body. Furniture design is communication: it mediates human emotions, meddles in with them, and functions as their atmospheric seedbed. Much like music does.

What was the idea behind Aava?
Structure-wise the aim of the collection was to compose a seat component that would work perfectly with a whole range of different bodyworks––technically as well as aesthetically. I didn’t want there to be any joints in the seat. I also aspired to create a component that would look equally appealing as an individual form as it would in different repeating patterns.

What are the considerations behind using plywood as a material?
Bending, folding and bowing plywood is something that I’ve explored a lot in context of my previous works. It gives the designer nearly endless freedom to sculpt wood into shapes wood would never naturally take. Variation in thickness gives the form more character and vividness. At the same time as it gives requisite strength to the actual object that it forms in the places where more endurance is needed.

What is your design ethic?
I believe that a soft-tone can make a more convincing argument than shouting out loud. When a designer has the patience to give his products temperate and soft-spoken expression, he can expect people to respond to them better and more willingly all over the world.

How do you evaluate good design?
Good design usually manifests in organic, effortless and indisputable appearance, combined with practicability and convenience. When the manufacturing process and the use of the product become one with the perfected form one gets an impression of something inevitable and absolute. Absolute as a paper clip.

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