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About Ari Korolainen

Ari Korolainen is a Finnish architect and designer who was one of the first designers who used recycled materials in his designs. 1985 he started to make cases and stationery products of recycled cardboard. Today he also uses recycled leather commonly in his designs. Good design and environmentally friendly materials can be seen in his Private Case stationery collection. Now, 30 years later, Private Case is a large collection of stationery products and Korolainen is known as Mr Private Case. Furniture design is his another ambition.

Interview with Ari Korolainen

Ari Korolainen ("AK") interviewed on Tuesday, 27 March.

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?

AK : I graduated as a construction architect in 1984. I used to design single family homes, and I did not have a suitable briefcase for my papers. So I created the first prototype, using recycled cardboard. I carried my drawings in my briefcase, and when visiting customers, people’s attention was drawn to the briefcase. They seemed to be more interested in the briefcase than my drawings.My designer colleagues wanted similar ones for themselves. So, very soon I founded a company focused on producing briefcases. This was 1985. The collection soon expanded to include other stationery products.

How did you become a designer?

AK : A few years later I started designing furniture, and these products were also very well received, a bit like my briefcases. Consequently, I founded a new company, ADESSIN Oy, to produce furniture.For instance, Helsinki Opera House chose to use some of my furniture. I remember an old friend from university talking about Mario Botta’s furniture some years ago, and just a few years later, my furniture was being used in the same opera house as Botta’s.My interest in art derives from my childhood home, as my father was an artist. I can still remember the smell of turpentine, and ultramarine painted on canvas. At school I had a very good and supportive art teacher, who encouraged me to continue with my artistic aspirations.

What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?

AK : Typically in my work, drawing the very first line can be difficult. I can start the same project many times over, and at the final stage I remove everything I possibly can to achieve the result I want. My works are plain, with each individual detail and dimension carefully planned.

Which emotions do you feel when designing?

AK : My works often have a funny detail, which lends them a cheerful look. I enjoy seeing them bring joy to the recipient. You feel you have succeeded when your work delights its owner.

What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?

AK : My next project is armchairs connected together with small table tops.

What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?

AK : Trust yourself. Do things that derive from your inner self. Try to create coherent entities.

What is your day to day look like?

AK : My working day starts at about 8.30 and ends at 6. It allows far too little time for design work. I often continue design work after 8 in the evening.

How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?

AK : I don’t consciously follow trends, but on the other hand, your own work has some effect on them.

How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?

AK : Good design combines ecological and aesthetic aspects with functionality. A new product has something old and familiar as well as something new.

How do you decide if your design is ready?

AK : A piece is ready when both the customer and the designer are satisfied with it.

What is your biggest design work?

AK : The Private Case selection is my ‘greatest’ work. I may have been the first designer to start making products from recycled materials. At first we used recycled cardboard and paper. We also used a lot of recycled leather. It is made from the leftovers from shoe and bag manufacturers.

Who is your favourite designer?

AK : It is hard to say which designer or artist I especially admire. Perhaps those who create plain products. Perhaps Rietveld and Le Corbusier, to mention a few. From my colleagues participating in the A-design Award, I’d mention Simone Mantovani.

Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?

AK : Less is More. When it comes to cities, I’m inspired by Como, and the time just before leaving to go there, when you are designing something new and wondering whether this would be fitting for Como.I usually design alone, but when a piece is at a certain stage, I show it to designer colleagues who give me feedback – or not. Sometimes it’s better if my work leaves them speechless. I usually meet up with a certain colleague once a year, when where I present him one or more of my works.

Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?

AK : A good designer has to be able to understand the customer’s needs and problems.

What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?

AK : I have had many young people as trainees who have later applied to design schools and have been admitted.I have also offered work to many design students. It has been a pleasure to follow their careers.

What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?

AK : Participation in competitions allows you to benchmark the level of your design work at a national and international level. Succeeding in competitions also raises the profile of your country in the design world.Awards also get attention in the press. International exhibitions raise the international awareness of your work. Awards can be used in marketing and sales promotion. It is the kind of positive publicity money can’t buy.An important benefit from participating in competitions is that you can get to know designers from all over the world. If you need information about events, exhibitions, or suitable sales outlets, for example, you can always contact colleagues in different countries.It is a great honour to be selected as a: Designer of the Day.

Ari Korolainen Profile

Divine Big light pot

Divine Big light pot design by Ari Korolainen


Olga Case

Olga Case design by Ari Korolainen


Cubic Multifunctional chair

Cubic Multifunctional chair design by Ari Korolainen


Teip Case

Teip Case design by Ari Korolainen


Big Click Multifunctional table

Big Click Multifunctional table design by Ari Korolainen


Pocket Refillable notebook

Pocket Refillable notebook design by Ari Korolainen


All You Need Organizer

All You Need Organizer design by Ari Korolainen


Smile  Business card holder

Smile Business card holder design by Ari Korolainen


Cubic Slim Chair

Cubic Slim Chair design by Ari Korolainen


Wake Up Boarding Time Tag

Wake Up Boarding Time Tag design by Ari Korolainen


Divide Light fixture

Divide Light fixture design by Ari Korolainen


Please Have a Seat Chair

Please Have a Seat Chair design by Ari Korolainen


Left&Right Armchair

Left&Right Armchair design by Ari Korolainen

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