Hakola’s collaboration with famed interior architect Joanna Laajisto combines traditional carpentry with a contemporary look, without forgetting Hakola’s cheerful and light attitude. Despite its modest size, the village of Jurva in Western Finland was in many ways the centre of handicraft expertise. Home to more than 60 furniture manufacturers and many of the most skilled carpenters in the country; nowadays only a handful remain. One of the companies keeping the tradition alive is Hakola.
When times are changing companies need to keep up, Hakola’s colourful and design-oriented strategy is doing the job. The company is still run by a family and for them it’s a matter of honour to take Jurva’s long tradition of carpentry further, adapting it to fresh and modern designs.
This autumn the company is teaming up with Joanna Laajisto, one of the most sought-after interior architects in Finland. Her work will be familiar to anyone who has visited some of Helsinki’s trendiest restaurants and offices. The result of this cooperation is ‘Bobo’, a sofa and armchair with a round, seductive, organic shape. To design with a light mind means adding a touch of humour to the game—this time in the form of detachable textile ‘leg warmers’ covering the sofa’s wooden legs.
“Collaborating with Joanna Laajisto felt like a natural fit for us, as I myself am a long-time fan of her style,” says Annaleena Hämäläinen, the Creative Director of Hakola. “It’s quite difficult to find a Finnish designer willing to take on the challenge of designing a sofa, as many of the leading design schools here don’t teach upholstered furniture. This type of project requires an understanding of what’s beneath the surface: filling, springs and foam.” Laajisto worked closely with the artisans at Hakola’s factory; putting their knowledge together to fashion something in a fruity way. Monitoring these kinds of projects is rather easy, because all products are still made by hand in the company’s own factory in Jurva.
Even though Hakola specialise in furniture making, they are still adding modern technology and new techniques to their process. The Bobo set is an example of this: the round shape is the result of pressing recycled PET bottles with a new kind of technique. Another new launch, the ‘Mama’ chair by Samuli Helavuo, is also a product that requires a strong understanding of traditional carpentry, with its curved back and sophisticated joinery. While it’s important to keep old traditions alive, so is bringing something new to the design industry; as a result of this alliance we have some inspiring new products tickling the design scene.
Joanna Laajisto is primarily known for designing office spaces, hotels and restaurants, so working with her is a step in a new direction for Hakola. Although known as a manufacturer of domestic furniture, the company is hoping to see Bobo in public spaces too. “The lines between private and public spaces are getting blurrier. People want offices that feel like homes and homes that look like hotels. Our furniture is suitable for both,” says Annaleena.
On this journey, many of Hakola’s dreams have already been fulfilled. But Annaleena isn’t resting, she’s developing new visions and conquering new challenges. One big and ambitious wish still persists, as Annaleena dreams of taking Hakola furniture to the international market. With the mix of modern design, warmth and humour; how could the rest of the world resist?