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.
Ari Korolainen ("AK") interviewed on Tuesday, 27 March.
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.
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.
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.
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.
AK : My next project is armchairs connected together with small table tops.
AK : Trust yourself. Do things that derive from your inner self. Try to create coherent entities.
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.
AK : I don’t consciously follow trends, but on the other hand, your own work has some effect on them.
AK : Good design combines ecological and aesthetic aspects with functionality. A new product has something old and familiar as well as something new.
AK : A piece is ready when both the customer and the designer are satisfied with it.
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.
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.
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.
AK : A good designer has to be able to understand the customer’s needs and problems.
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.
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
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