The home of Karin Widnäs is a marriage of ceramics and architecture

Ceramic artist Karin Widnäs loves the feel of clay between her fingers and gives a physical form to images conjured up in her mind. When she dreams, she dreams big. Often these dreams come true – like her atelier home in Fiskars and, more recently, the KWUM ceramics museum next door.

The home of Karin Widnäs
The ceramic wall finishes designed and made by Karin Widnäs bring a unique touch to the interior and architecture.

THE SOUTH-FINNISH VILLAGE of Fiskars with its tall oak trees and cosy buildings appealed to Karin Widnäs from her very first visit in the early 1990s. Some of her friends had just relocated to the picturesque former ironworks area, which was being developed into a unique community for artists and artisans at the time.

The old, deserted buildings received new residents, who began to transform them into studios, workshops and homes. But Karin dreamt of a plot of land for building a house of her own.

Karin Widnäs
Karin Widnäs was awarded with the Pro Finlandia Medal in 2017. She lives in Fiskars in a unique home and had the KWUM ceramics museum built on its backyard.

“I wanted to find a plot of land for building my own studio and home in order to apply my designs and ceramics to the building on a larger scale. Soon a friend told me about a plot that was being sold by the municipality of Pohja. I liked the location and energy of the place,” Karin Widnäs explains.

She shows a wish box she designed for adding a wish written on a piece of paper and then burning it. In Karin’s case, an atelier home and subsequently the KWUM ceramic museum next door rose from the ashes.

The home of Karin Widnäs
Architect and professor Tuomo Siitonen designed Karin Widnäs an atelier home in Fiskars that forms a unique architectural whole. The KWUM museum is also a work of his.
With its grey patina and wooden decking that circles the entire house, the building blends seamlessly into the misty landscape.
The home of Karin Widnäs
The hallway is bright and pared down. Karin Widnäs made the terracotta floor tiles with a traditional, centuries-old method. Wall panelling and clothes rack by Nikari.
The home of Karin Widnäs
The home is a blend of traditional Finnish building methods and a dash of oriental ambience. The living room has been decorated only with a few pieces of modern white furniture and artwork made by friends.
The play of forms among the white pot by local ceramic artist Erna Aaltonen, Pömpelillä artwork by Howard Smith and graphic bannister is pleasing on the eye.

Professor Tuomo Siitonen was the right architect to make her wishes a reality. The building project was fruitful in many ways, the collaboration between the architect and ceramic artist turning into a creative explosion that ticked both of their boxes.

Already before construction, Karin had been fascinated by the prospect of combining ceramic finishes with architecture, which became an important reason for the build. Her handmade ceramic tiles add plenty of personality to the décor and architecture.

Karin makes ceramic tiles with a traditional, thousand-year-old technique that she combines with contemporary designs.

The hundreds of unique tiles on the walls reflect the constantly shifting play of light and shadow. Also the terracotta tiles that cover the hallway floor are handmade.

The home of Karin Widnäs
The expertise of cabinetmakers and artists from Fiskars is evident in the structures of the building as well as in lighting, ceramic art and pieces of furniture.
Light and white finishes accentuate the warm tone of wood. The matt white ornamental flowers in the wall relief form a harmonious whole with the other objects in the space.
The home of Karin Widnäs
The ceiling lamps by Camilla Moberg illuminate the five-metre-long dining table. The For Savoy tableware created for Restaurant Savoy in Helsinki is from 2012. The furniture is by Fiskars-based wood design studio and furniture manufacturer Nikari.
The home of Karin Widnäs
The kitchen cabinets were designed by Karin and made by carpentry company Punavuoren Puuhevonen. The floor tiles in the dining area and kitchen were serially produced, while the black wall tiles were handmade by Karin Widnäs.

The streamlined architecture of the wooden building continues in the spacious, calming interiors. The rays of the sun flood in through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Here, the outside is truly brought in. The building has a floor area of 350 square metres across two floors.

Art and architecture are touching and create connections in the space.

All the intricate wooden finishes as well as the doors, windows, staircase and hallway panelling are by local cabinetmakers. The building is a sanctuary of architecture, light, aesthetic interiors and ceramic art.

“It takes determination and guts to think big and take calm steps towards the goal,” reflects Karin.

The home of Karin Widnäs
In the bedroom, ceramic artist Suku Park’s deep turquoise sculptures bow to the lightweight, one-off Paju chair by Markku Kosonen that’s like a sculpture, too.
The bathroom represents minimalism at its best. Magical light streaming through the windows illuminates the sink and wall tiles designed by Karin.
The home of Karin Widnäs
Between the home and the studio is a covered outdoor space. Two wide planks were skilfully joined together to create a five-metre-long dining table.
The home of Karin Widnäs
The elegant silver tone of the cladding is a result of storms, rain and sun. The Arkipelago chairs and table are by Nikari.
The home of Karin Widnäs
The house received an award for best wooden building in 2006.

Karin Widnäs owns a large collection of international and Finnish ceramic art from the 1960s to the present day. A pot by local ceramic artist Erna Aaltonen stands by the stairs downstairs, its serene form reminiscent of Japanese and Korean ceramics.

One-off artworks displayed upstairs – Parivaljakko by Suku Park, sculptural Paju chair by Markku Kosonen and a ceramic bowl by Riitta Talonpoika – are just a few examples of her vast collection that shift as part of the décor.

Art and one-off pieces create unique encounters in the space. They elevate the aesthetic of the home above the mundane and create a backdrop for a pleasurable daily life. The atmosphere in Karin’s home nurtures creativity and opens doors to new visual experimentations.

Get inspired

Arkipelago chair
Lapuan Kankurit
Mohair blanket
Stool 60
Mineral coffee table
Arkipelago table
Kastehelmi jar
Tact rug

See also:

• Asun Homes Vol 4 >

Text: Liti Wendelin Photos: Martti Järvi

This story was originally published in the Asun magazine's issue 36 and the Asun Homes bookazine's volume 4.

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