Interview on November 10, 2010
Hi Klaus! To which part of the world are you heading?
– Hi! At the moment I’m at home in London. Soon I’ll be leaving for a business trip to Hong Kong and Tokyo, so I’m always busy.
You have lived a long time abroad. Do you still feel you are a Finnish designer?
– I am Finnish, but London is now my home town. I have lived here for six years now and before that I lived in Italy for four and a half years. At the moment I can’t imagine myself living in Finland, but time will tell.
Plate from Iittala Taika tableware range.
Is London visible somehow in your illustrations?
– I wouldn’t say that it is directly visible. Of course I get the inspiration from what happens here, from the everyday things – for instance the exhibitions.
Taika, the dishware collection you designed for Iittala, is again one of the products of the moment thanks to its seasonal colour, red. We can almost talk about a new classic.
– Iittala ordered from me an illustration in my typical style. I offered them a print which was indeed perfect on tableware. I was involved in its design since the beginning. Before that I had worked mainly in the field of fashion and textiles, so ceramics was something new for me. While designing Taika I had for instance to take into consideration the fact that colours change when the tableware is fired in the oven for finishing.
Klaus Haapaniemi textile collection was launched in Hel Yes! pop-up restautant, London.
You have designed also new textiles, whose decorations are typical Haapaniemi. Tell us more about this project.
– Design process began already a couple of years ago. Textiles are produced in India because we wanted the best materials and the most skilful craftsmanship. Materials are of highest quality and the products are hand-made – for instance the prints are printed and embroidered by hand. We use expensive silk mixes, cashmere and high quality wool. The collection includes throws, scarfs and cushions. Later on also leather products and accessories will be added to the collection.
Label for the legendary Finnish Koskenkorva liquor brand.
In your works there is a strong and recognizable visual language. Do you feel pressure about the fact that people wait from you works with always the same style?
– I acknowledge this. Of course you have to move forward and create new things. I have to maintain my own style because I have created it. But it develops as well, it is a natural transition.
What is your way of working?
– Normally I draw first, plan and put the ideas on paper. Then I use the PC, mainly for realization and finishing. A design made only using the PC is a bit limiting, rigid.
Christmas decoration for the Japanese Isetan department store.
Do you have any role models?
– I can´t say I have any illustrators as my role models. I remember though that as a child I used to watch a lot at the images by the Russian Ivan Bilibin. They were inspired from the Slavic tradition.
Do you have your own favourite(s) among Finnish design classics?
– I have many favourites and some of them can be found also at my home. For instance the glass birds by Oiva Toikka and Harri Koskinen products. Not to forget of course Alvar Aalto and Tapio Wirkkala.
Is there any design project that has left you with particular memories?
– There are many of them. I like to work with department stores. A new interesting project is the Christmas campaign for Isetan, a Japanese deluxe department store. The visual look can be seen all over the department store, from the windows even to the cakes and pastries of the food department. This is the second time I design a visual look for them. The campaign is made in cooperation with the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami. A very interesting project all in all.
Detail from the winter theme park in Hong Kong World Trade Center.
Where can we see your design in the future?
– Maybe I can reveal that the cooperation with Iittala will continue. Next spring at the Milan Furniture Fair we will launch the furniture I designed for an English design house. And of course there will be new textiles designed under my own brand. About the most current works I can mention, beside the Christmas campaign for Isetan, the one for the Printemps department store in Paris. And a winter theme park will be opened at the Hong Kong World Trade Center!
You are really busy, aren't you?
– Yes. I travel a lot for my work. I wish I would have time for something else as well.
Interview: Mikko Vaija
Translation: Daniela Chiucchiù