Jenni Roininen, who works as Nikari’s creative director, has won the Designer of the Year award at Monocle magazine’s Design Awards 2021. We interviewed Roininen to hear her thoughts fresh after the win.
Hi, Jenni! And congratulations on winning the Monocle Design Awards 2021! How does it feel to be chosen as designer of the year?
“Thanks. It feels really good, and all the congratulations do too. I’m happy that the design criteria specifically took into account Nikari’s design approach as a whole. We have worked over the long term to produce design classics of the future and to promote sustainable development, without forgetting the wellbeing of workers and the buyers of our products. This work involves a large number of designers, woodworkers and other top professionals in the field, and I want to express my heartfelt thanks to them.”
The main theme of the competition was to honour the people and products enhancing lives. How do Nikari products do this?
“The first thing that must be mentioned is materials: solid wood is at the heart of both Nikari’s work and my own. Wood is a renewable and carbon-binding raw material, but its properties could be highlighted even more than at present. It is a natural, warm and pleasant material for the human body.
We still use traditional methods of wood design. Nikari furniture is passed down from generation to generation, and can be refurbished or resold without worries. In my view, it is impossible to overestimate the effect of the aesthetic properties of the product on wellbeing, or the feeling of a well-finished wood surface in the environment you live or work in.”
“Nikari furniture is passed down from generation to generation, and can be refurbished or resold without worries.”
What does your job as Nikari’s creative director involve?
“I have been with Nikari since the beginning of 2011. My goal is to be working in the Fiskars workshop as much as I can. Before the Covid-19 crisis that meant about three days a week, but now we do as much remote work as possible.
My own work includes tasks in production, marketing, product development and design. As creative director, it is very important to know and understand all of these areas. I don’t want to draw strict boundaries between areas – they are all intertwined. Many more Nikari staff work flexibly on different tasks too.”
One of the products you designed is the Basic dining table. Tell us about it!
“The Basic table was created in collaboration with woodworker Juho Kinnunen. We had previously gained experience with wood joints and an easy-to-assemble wood structure. The table was not just created on a drawing board, but involved woodworking skills that are not always visible in the finished product, such as the small tail joints in the supports at the tabletop level.
I designed the table in different sizes, with two options for the shape of the end of the tabletop to suit as many purposes as possible. Nikari’s Akademia chairs or Linea RMT3 chairs are a perfect accompaniment to the Basic table.”
Where and how do you live?
“I live in the northern part of Espoo, by a lake. My home and its old yard are a mix of a little bit of everything – I like that lived life is visible. I have furniture that I rescued from Nikari’s workshop: chairs with which experiments with different surface treatments were carried out, special versions that have been presented at events, or prototypes that didn’t make it to production as such. I have also received a few works from Kari Virtanen, the founder of Nikari. As soon as a new home is found for my current dining table, I will replace it with a Basic.”
What plans do you and Nikari have for this year?
“In the summer, we will meet customers and stakeholders, but still on a smaller scale. As things stand now, it will be possible to hold larger events in Finland and abroad in the autumn, but of course it’s a bit stressful having to wait and see on what scale everything will actually play out. Expectations are high. Preparations are already underway, and new products are sure to come.”
Jenni Roininen's 3 favorites:
1. TV series? Mad Men
2. Food? Sushi
3. Scent? Freshly baked bun
Text: Mikko Vaija Images: Nikari