Helsinki Design Awards presents the shortlist of the Product of the Year category

In the new series of Helsinki Design Weekly, we meet the finalists of Helsinki Design Awards. The second part of the series introduces the shortlist of the Product of the Year.

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Oura, designer Kari Kivelä


Since the beginning, it’s been the principle of Oura to help people utilize their resources as well as possible. Kari Kivelä studied industrial engineering and has worked on various projects in that field, including software. About ten years ago Kivelä became interested in making jewellery and decided to study this field. Jeweller Kristian Saarikorpi was one of the people to teach him the materials and methods. Kivelä was swept away by design and jewellery-making. Due to various solutions and their backgrounds in technology, Petteri Lahtela, the former CEO and current innovation director of Oura, and Kivelä became interested in measuring a person’s level of preparedness in the long term. Eventually they combined science and advanced measurement technology with jewellery design.

Harri Koskinen was part of the team creating the first version of the Oura rings, and the current design team includes Mikko Latomäki and Kivelä. The design is based on traditional jewellery-making carried forward in a unique style. The Oura style is based on simple forms and sections, reflections, shadows and light. Technology has also been adapted to make the design more intriguing.

Helsinki Design Week’s theme this year, TRUST, is important to Oura. They promise to help people recover from daily stress. Trust between partners may lead to great results when there is full freedom and everyone is allowed to shine. Regarding design in the future, Oura is expecting a couple of interesting cooperation projects: one with Finnish Lumoava and another with Steven Webster from England.

Laakso, designer Saku Sysiö. Manufacturer Made by Choice.

The Laakso chair was originally just a quick sketch in Sysiö’s notebook. Lasse Laine of Made by Choice wanted to make a prototype of the chair. It was launched in Milan two years later. Now there’s a whole product family growing around Laakso, and Sysiö is excitedly looking forward to wherever the story of Laakso will lead. In the future, Saku Sysiö is particularly interested in international projects.

For Sysiö, Helsinki Design Week’s theme this year, Trust, means that his products are well designed, high quality and carefully manufactured, and that they stand the test of time. Sysiö thinks one of the challenges of Finnish design is that it involves heavy investments. The advantage is its fine history and being from an odd little country that has the potential to arouse international interest.

Turvakaveri and Pop Corn Stripes, designers Marjut Rahkola ja Maija Louekari. Manufacturer Vimma.

In the early days of Vimma, both Rahkola and Louekari dreamed of designing hospital clothing. Their project started in a meeting between Brother Christmas and Rahkola, and later involved the entire Turku University Hospital (TYKS) team, including the chief physician. At an early phase of design, kids were asked to answer a survey, and many of them wished for colourful, happy clothing. This is how the Turvakaveri outfits were born. They are with the kids and their families during the bad times but also during those joyful moments that hospitals hopefully sometimes offer. Rahkola designed tube holes in the clothes so that nurses wouldn’t have to lift the shirts when dosing medication.

Before the project, Rahkola and Louekari stopped to think about whether a new garment is what sick children really need, or is it the least important worry when one is really sick? The chief physician of TYKS said that every tiny source of joy is always a step towards recovery. After hearing this, Louekari wanted to make new clothes for every single hospital! At the launch at the Child Fair, sick and recovered kids came to tell their stories to the world. Louekari says there is amazing appreciation towards the hospital. This hospital clothing project was a pilot, and Rahkola and Louekari hope that it can continue.

This autumn Vimma employed surplus knits from Nanso to create a more environmentally friendly collection, which is now on sale at Prisma. One of Louekari’s dreams is that people would consume less. Design, too, can at times be nonmaterial. Rahkola and Louekari hope to increasingly create something more meaningful instead of just looking at numbers. To them, Helsinki Design Week’s theme for this year, TRUST, means communication between people, ways of acting responsibly and ways of building a good future for our children.

Helsinki Design Awards 12 September.