Two Finnish veterans of the design industry, Nikari, known for its solid wood furniture, and Woodnotes, known for its paper yarn carpets and furniture, will begin collaborating. We asked Johanna Vuorio of Nikari and Mikko Puotila of Woodnotes what was behind this surprise announcement.
SOME POPULAR Woodnotes products are on display in a bright and spacious showroom in an old factory hall at Kaapelitehdas in Helsinki: paper-yarn K chairs designed by Harri Koskinen, slender Twiggy tables and, of course, a multitude of carpets. They are accompanied by a beautiful wooden divider by Fiskars-based Nikari; a December lounge chair designed by Jasper Morrison; and stools of different heights.
It is no coincidence that products by both companies are being displayed together. In September 2020, Nikari and Woodnotes announced that they would join forces. In future, the companies will run joint exhibits at showrooms and international fairs. Other functions will be partially merged.
Nikari and Woodnotes have collaborated in a number of ways over the years. For example, you may have spotted their products at each other’s stands in the curated design hall of the Milan Furniture Fair. However, they began to consider the idea of intensifying cooperation in 2016, when Woodnotes was planning a pop-up store in central Helsinki and Mikko Puotila asked if Nikari would like to join in as a partner.
“We strive to create beautiful and healthy environments in which the mind is at rest.”
“We realized how compatible our products are when we saw a range of them displayed in the same space. We had the perfect product match! That’s when the idea began to take shape,” says Mikko Puotila. “So the coronavirus had nothing to do with our collaboration: we have been considering the idea for much longer than that,” he explains.
Over the past year, the companies have been engaged in detailed negotiations on how to collaborate at practical level. They took a major step in the summer of 2020, when Johanna Vuorio, who previously led Nikari, became CEO of Woodnotes. Other activities will be merged – particularly marketing, sales and financial management. Vuorio and Puotila have also swapped shares in their companies to keep the ‘union’ tight.
“But we won’t combine everything – Woodnotes and Nikari will continue to be independent companies. However, by working together we can be bigger, more visible and more attractive. We are seeking moderate, well-managed growth through our collaboration,” says Johanna Vuorio.
With the first months of the partnership behind them, the contented pair are sitting together in Woodnotes’s showroom.
“Our materials – wood, paper yarn, wool and leather – are compatible. Both companies’ products have a simplicity and harmony based on the Finnish design tradition. Combined, they create a world of their own,” says Vuorio.
“Our products have natural harmony, quality and responsible production in common.”
In addition, the last few months have shown that the companies have very similar views on almost all aspects of design and business. "It’s been great to do things together," says Mikko Puotila.
The partners also have lessons to learn from each other in areas such as exports, which already account for around half of each company’s business. Joining forces will enable them to exchange information and contacts.
And when will we see the first joint products by Woodnotes and Nikari? The question raises an enigmatic smile on both faces.
“Yes, we intend to make joint products. We are very inspired by the idea of combining solid wood and paper yarn. Perhaps the future will bring a product such as a wooden chair made by Nikari, with a seat handmade from paper yarn by Woodnotes. We’re already mulling over some ideas, but haven’t come up with anything concrete yet. We hope to have something to exhibit at next year’s Milan Furniture Fair,” Vuorio reveals.
Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Photos: Niclas Mäkelä, Riikka Kantinkoski, Nikari and Woodnotes