Pauliina Aarikka: setting the roots of innovative design in own history

When I entered Aarikka’s luminous wooden showroom for her interview, Pauliina was wearing a very elegant yet casual Sonia Rykiel black velvet ensemble combining a classical cut with an innovative touch mixing humour and colour. It struck me that she was naturally embodying her company’s values: simple, classical but equally playful and innovative.

Aariikka was founded by your mother, Kaija Aarikka. The whole business idea started from missing buttons for her master thesis work in applied arts. Could you tell us the full story?

My mother was working on a woollen dress for which she could find no adequate buttons and as a result decided to design them herself. Those buttons, shaped in the simple, natural and rounded form which later became Aarikka’s trademark, were the most remarked part during the exhibition of her work. Button orders started to flow in immediately from all parts of Finland. To further develop her business, she participated in a fair in Frankfurt for which she designed some wooden jewelry to be displayed next to the then famous buttons and that too was a success.

Aarikka was founded in 1954 and today it is still building on my mother’s love for natural materials, wood and silver in her case, and bright and warm colours. Colouring wood was not an obvious step in the ’50 and ’60 as jewelry was dominated by darker types of woods such as mahogany, jacaranda, ebenholz and teak. To create the colourful design she had in mind, she had to turn to pine and birch, which could be coloured more easily.  Together with her husband, she developed a dyeing process which allowed the natural texture of the wood to show while preserving the quality and durability of the colour over time. This process, which is supported by machines they developed at the time, is still in use today.

Aarikka is quite remarkable in that it is producing its jewelry and decoration items in Finland, from Finnish natural materials, naturally processed. How do you manage to meet these challenges of being environmentally friendly and supporting business locally when many companies outsource their production to remote countries to cut costs?

Our company values are strong and were present from the very beginning of its history. We wanted Finland to be the centre of our production processes to ensure quality as well as good and long lasting relationships with our suppliers. Not only do we use natural materials processed naturally, but the wood we use comes from the Helsinki region, reducing our carbon footprint.  We are also pioneers of what is nowadays called ”social responsability” as we have always used homeworkers for the assemby of our jewelry for example, especially elderly and handicaped persons looking for an extra source of income. Aarikka also supports community causes through the sales of some of its products. We are donating €3 from the sale of each of our Christmas elves, Mahti-tonttu, for example, to families in need through the association Tukikummit.

You  just mentioned one of your newest elves, Mahti-tonttu, which gives us the opportunity to turn to the Christmas decoration aspect of this interview. What are Aarikka’s Christmas decoration trends this year?

Aarikka has a long tradition of collector elves which started in the 70s and I am hopeful that we will soon exhibit the full series as a collection. This year, our elves have adopted a gigantic and playful format. The Mahti-tonttu we have already mentioned,is the biggest elf we have ever created. There is also Keikku-tonttu that can roll from one side to the other of the table bringing laughters and smiles. Candle holders and serving plates inspired by one of Kaija’s ealier designs are available in our traditional colours and as well as in turquoise which is one of this year’s trendy colours.

We also have all the typical Scandinavian Christmas tableware: small glögi spoons, glögi cups, wooden plates, candle holders for above the table, those to be placed on the table itself, decorative crowns and even a Christmas crib all made of Finnish wood.

Christmas is also a time for gifts. Tell us about your jewelry novelties?

This season we have launched design jewelry inspired by some of our vintage models such as Pariisi, using larger size wooden balls fashionable in the after-war Paris, or Tuuli which is a totally new model.  We have also designed wooden wall clocks and coat hooks decorated with the typical Aarikka balls, which make original presents.

Aarikka is present in many countries through retailer networks. Where are your largest sales volumes?

We are especially present in Japan, the US and the Scandinavian countries. Recently, we have started to be very appreciated in Saudi Arabia. We also have an online shop http://www.aarikka.com, which widens our market perspective.

Aarikka is one of Finland’s most appreciated brands. I hope you understand why now…

_____________________________

IN YOUR AGENDA’S

 

Visit Aarikka’s factory shop in Helsinki

Nokiantie 2-4 C, 00510 Helsinki

Open: Mo.-Thur. 9 am – 5pm Fri. 9am – 4pm

More details by e-mail: tehtaanmyymala@aarikka.com or phone: +358 9 770 44 202 Fax +358 9 773 12 56


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