Kaj Franck Design Prize 2022: Kari Virtanen
Cabinetmaker Kari Virtanen has been selected as the recipient of the Kaj Franck Design Prize 2022.
Cabinetmaker Kari Virtanen has been selected as the recipient of the Kaj Franck Design Prize 2022, granted by Design Forum Finland. The Kaj Franck Design Prize is one of the most significant design prizes in Finland.
Kari Virtanen founded his own one-man workshop Nikari as early as 1967. Along the years, the company evolved into a design furniture brand. Since the beginning, the emphasis of Virtanen and Nikari’s work has been in combining traditional carpentry and design. Several domestic and international designers have designed furniture for Nikari. Kari Virtanen’s work has received widespread recognition and exposure over the years.
The prize jury wanted to use the prize to highlight Kari Virtanen’s persistent long-term work and values, on which he has based his career on through the decades. Virtanen and Nikari have produced classic Finnish design that uses wood as its premise and doesn’t aim for novelty as an intrinsic value. Instead, it is based on permanence while still reinterpreting tradition. Under the last decade, the company has started operating internationally, building networks and having foreign designers to enrich own collections. This has created new opportunities for companies that use design competence. Kari Virtanen’s work as a mentor of new designer and carpenter generations is also important.
Kari Virtanen and Nikari have been ahead of their time in sustainable design and business. In the ever-changing world, Nikari has managed to maintain its originality and its core values, and its object world is as topical today as before, perhaps even more so. Cultural sustainability is at the core of sustainable development. Continuity and the preservation of high-quality arts and crafts tradition are valuable.
Photo: Elina Simonen
Kaj Franck Design Prize 2021: Johanna Gullichsen
Textile designer Johanna Gullichsen has been selected as the recipient of the Kaj Franck Design Prize 2021.
Textile designer Johanna Gullichsen has been selected as the recipient of the Kaj Franck Design Prize 2021, granted by Design Forum Finland. The Kaj Franck Design Prize is one of the most significant design prizes in Finland, and it will be granted for the 30th time this year.
Johanna Gullichsen is known for her graphic interior textiles that make use of traditional weaves. She has made determined and systematic efforts to update traditional textile types and patterns. Johanna Gullichsen founded her own enterprise in 1989. However, it was not until she opened a shop in Paris in 1997 that she made her breakthrough. At the same time, the first connections to Japan were established. Johanna Gullichsen’s own collection includes fabrics, interior decoration items and accessories. Along with design assignments she has expanded to new areas such as cement floor tiles and tatami mats.
The prize jury stated that an appreciation of natural materials, handicrafts and the preservation of the weaving tradition is clearly visible in the textiles designed by Johanna Gullichsen. She has succeeded in combining her artistic and creative work with sustainable serial production. The textiles produced under Johanna Gullichsen brand are woven in Finland from natural materials, and their carefully considered colour combinations are a natural addition to Finnish interior and furniture design.
The unique approach has also resulted in collaborative projects with domestic and foreign designers and companies, stated the jury. Johanna Gullichsen’s designs are a strong continuation of the Finnish tradition of textile art.
Photo: Elina Simonen
Kaj Franck Design Prize 2020: Ilkka Suppanen
Designer, interior architect Ilkka Suppanen was selected as the recipient of the Kaj Franck Design Prize 2020.
The Kaj Franck Design Prize brings forth the central spirit and principles of designer Kaj Franck’s (1911–1989) oeuvre: high-quality, democratic and functional design that solves practical challenges and opens up new opportunities for companies excelling in design. A particular merit is if the rewarded designer brings beauty and joy to everyday life and enhances the quality of life.
Ilkka Suppanen has made a long and successful career in the field of design and art. He studied both interior and furniture design at the University of Art and Design Helsinki and architecture at the Helsinki University of Technology. Suppanen made his breakthrough in the late 1990s as one of the founders of the Snowcrash group. The group’s showing at the Milan Furniture Fair in 1997 brought a lot of media attention and several contacts from furniture manufacturers. Among these was the big Italian furniture company Cappellini, which took Suppanen’s Flying Carpet sofa into production.
The members of the Kaj Franck Design Prize jury of 2020 were CEO Petteri Kolinen / Design Forum Finland, Executive Director Pilvi Kalhama / Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA, Advocate Pentti Kivinen / Finnish Fair Foundation, curator, journalist Isa Kukkapuro and designer, Professor Heikki Orvola.
Photo: Paavo Lehtonen
The Kaj Franck Design Prize can be awarded to a Finnish designer or team, or one that resides or works in Finland. This prize was established by Design Forum Finland in 1992 and it is funded by the Finnish Fair Foundation. The prize sum is 10,000 euros. In funding the Kaj Franck Design Prize, the Finnish Fair Foundation wishes to express its respect for the significant work and achievements of Kaj Franck as a pioneer of the culture of Finnish design and to extend its recognition and support to Finland’s present-day designers.
READ MORE ABOUT THE KAJ FRANCK DESIGN PRIZE