Kaksikko, also known as the design duo Wesley Walters and Salla Luhtasela, created the architecturally inspired Ridge vase for the Danish design house Muuto.
WESLEY WALTERS AND SALLA LUHTASELA of Kaksikko are the creators of the ceramic Ridge vase launched by Muuto in fall 2019. We met Wesley and Salla to learn more about the process of creating a vase and the versatility of corrugated cardboard.
How did you end up working with Muuto?
Wesley Walters: “We started the project with Muuto in the winter of 2017. Muuto had previously contacted us about a product we had designed so, when visiting Denmark, we met them to discuss possible collaboration. This actually led us to begin work on two products, one of which is the recently launched Ridge vase. We are still designing the other product.”
Tell us about the design process for the Ridge vase.
Wesley: “At the start of the project, we spent four months in residence in Paris and New York, seeking inspiration and photographic material for the design work. We were seeking a large, architectural element, which we could scale down to 'vase-size'. We photographed and studied several buildings, bridge supports and similar nearby structures.”
Salla Luhtasela: “Muuto wanted the vase to be a kind of focal point, a monumental object that could even be placed on the floor. We came up with numerous ideas and the related prototypes in various materials, until we gradually settled on a design inspired by the façade of a building by the Place de la Bastille in Paris. First, we created countless prototypes of the design from corrugated cardboard. At one point, my home was full of cardboard and the various-sized models we had made from it.”
“At one point, my home was full of cardboard and the various-sized models we had made from it.”
Wesley: “Our earliest drawings incorporated the idea of a narrow mouth on the vase. Rather than a large bunch of flowers, the shape accommodates a few carefully chosen flowers or twigs that look both good and carefully arranged.”
What was it like working with Muuto?
Wesley: “Muuto is our biggest client so far. It was fascinating to work with a company that has its own, large product development department. There was no real need to create a ceramic version, but we find it important to see how the product looks based on the final material.”
“It was great to see how the product was manufactured in a way that respected our prototypes.”
How did it feel to see the finished Ridge vase for the first time?
Salla: “I was so nervous with anticipation that I didn't even want to talk about vases until we finally saw the finished product. Of course, it was also fascinating to see how the designers are mentioned on the product packaging and how Muuto has marketed Ridge via its channels since the product launch.”
Wesley: “It was great to see how the product was manufactured in a way that respected our prototypes. At first, we wondered whether compromises in the shape and details would be necessary when producing large quantities of the product. I love Nordic design and the companies based here, but their products are often restricted to a small geographical area. Muuto is such a large company that, this time, people in my native United States may get to see what I've been working on lately.”
Within a relatively short time, you have had the chance to work for well-known Scandinavian companies such as Skagerak and Muuto. Why do you think that is?
Salla: “We often wonder about it ourselves. Our Perch stool was added to Nikari's collection due to our win in the FDS Award design competition, which certainly played a major role in getting us where we are now, since Nikari is very highly regarded. It cannot be taken for granted that a large company such as Muuto would choose a product by a small design house, and trust us to achieve the quality level they want. In addition, the right timing and product are highly important: people notice and find different things interesting at different times.”
Wesley: “There's certainly a lot of luck involved. We are now in a situation where we can collaborate with large companies from Finland and reach more people. It's fun to be noticed, even when living here, on the 'edge of the world'.”
“We can collaborate with large companies from Finland and reach more people. It's fun to be noticed, even when living here, on the 'edge of the world'.”
Salla: “We will head to the small rural village of Kinomoto, Japan, where we will pilot a residency and explore what kind of collaboration is possible between local artisans and external designers, in order to revitalize the region and maintain its centuries-old craft tradition.”
Wesley: “While in Japan, we will also meet a wider group of people to discuss potential new projects. In addition, we are working on designs for Matri, Lokal and Nikari. We will also continue our collaboration with Muuto.”
Products designed by Kaksikko
• Kaksikko consists of Wesley Walters and Salla Luhtasela, who met while studying at Aalto University in Helsinki
• The duo specializes in the design of wood and ceramic products
• In 2016, Kaksikko won the FDS Award design competition, which led to the addition of their competition entry, the Perch stool, to Nikari's collection
• Their product portfolio also includes the Maissi bench and Aino mirror by Skagerak; the Akademia chair by Nikari; the Ilta bedside table by Matri; and the latest addition, the Ridge vase by Muuto
Text: Hanna-Katariina Mononen Images: Muuto and Chikako Harada