Wood comes to design

Wood comes to design

According to Finnish interior architect, Tapio Anttila, interest in the development of product brands based on wood is growing strongly. Anttila who has been recognised with many international design awards has been revamping the planning and design of the use of wood in co-operation with the young generation of designers. Tapio Anttila has been creating the concept and project of Woodism, which gives the floor to young designers to speak on behalf of new experimental forms of using wood. The working group is designing and making furniture and utensils from trees that have fallen in gardens and parks.

According to Finnish interior architect, Tapio Anttila, interest in the development of product brands based on wood is growing strongly. Anttila who has been recognised with many international design awards has been revamping the planning and design of the use of wood in co-operation with the young generation of designers.

Tapio Anttila has been creating the concept and project of Woodism, which gives the floor to young designers to speak on behalf of new experimental forms of using wood. The working group is designing and making furniture and utensils from trees that have fallen in gardens and parks.

- Woodism represents an alternative and counterbalance to mass production design and industrial manufacture, says Anttila. The Woodism range enables the starting points for design from a different perspective and thus the chance to embark upon a new kind of design language and world of objects. In the same way, a new kind of thinking with ecological aspects is interesting.

- The basis of Woodism is respect for our immediate environment in terms of trees and nature. We usually use the wood from trees from parks, which you can't get in a shop, says Anttila. The wood may contain faults and shapes that get people thinking. The use of waste wood, the well-considered working of the material, eco-friendly surface treatment agents, short transport distances and sustainable design all make Woodism objects ecological.

- Wood often has a local story emphasising its individuality, says Anttila about the content of Woodism. We want to keep the feel of the wood. There was one elm coffee table that got its look and story from grenade fragments found in the wood. We hope that the stories of wood will continue in homes in the form of objects and utensils. There is starting to be demand for individual design at international furniture fairs that consumers who value individuality like to attend.

Wood a modern attractive material for interior design

Tapio Anttila also designs mass-produced products for industry. His latest conquest is wooden accent walls used on the interior surfaces of buildings. These walls are typically used to line the wall around a picture or part of it. - Wood on walls and furniture brings softness and contrast to living. Our challenge as designers is to make wood a modern and attractive material. All this requires planning, ideas and effort. We need open-minded engineers, who can develop new technologies that we can use to make new product concepts for living, says Anttila.

Wall panels, interior design products, trays and light fittings designed by Anttila have been on display in New York, Tokyo and Milan, where birch bark is known as a warm and exotic material. In Anttila’s opinion, the major challenge for design development is to safeguard the supply of high-quality wood for the furniture and interior design industries. - Furniture needs straight-grained durable wood. Wood from the Nordic countries best meets these criteria.

According to Anttila, wood is no longer only used in interior panelling, but also in many other modern applications. - It’s important for genuine wood to be visible in interior design solutions, and not to try to replace it or cover it with any other materials. Wood offers a contrast to other materials, and then it really stands out and 'glows' as a material in its own right, says Anttila.

- We must activate the consumer. It’s no good just being ecological. It also has to look good. We are focusing on the surface treatment of wood, because that’s how we can make wood stand out. Now there is demand for brown and white wood with a gloss finish, and a lesser trend is the use of massive wood that has been little refined. I believe that young people will discover what modern wood has to offer, says Anttila.

Anttila designs wooden accent walls, because consumers want more than just white surfaces in their living environment. - You can make wooden accent walls, which are typically used to line the wall around a picture or part of it. Wood on walls and furniture brings softness and contrast to living. Our challenge as designers is to make wood a modern and attractive material. All this requires planning, ideas and effort.

Design offers new possibilities for the use of wood

- New starting points are also needed for the use of wood - to get more out of it by using it in an inventive way. Wood is a versatile material, the commercialisation of which requires new technologies and a new attitude, says Anttila. The function of design is to act as the driver to bring new attraction to the use of wood. International propagation is vitally important from a point of view of design products.

- People are coming to Finland from abroad to learn about wood, because we have a good reputation as a country of design. In Anttila’s opinion, it is the job of universities to be pioneers and to carry out research and, thanks to this, Finland has developed new modern design and has not resorted to just warming up the old. Now front-line products are needed, through which we can achieve a bigger spread and market.

Anttila thinks that co-operation, top-class ideas and designers, open-minded engineers and good marketing people are now needed to develop planning and design. - An idea and its development are the be-all and end-all. For product development, we need resources that will allow us to target a new international breakthrough, says Anttila.

According to him, the significance of design in product development is once again on the rise. Finland is still respected as a country of design. - Although our export reputation is still based on Artek and Marimekko, in the pipeline we have new ecological wood-based brands to expand our export of design.

Article service Markku Laukkanen