Antrei (B. 1991) is a master cabinet maker and designer from Finland known for his exquisite works in wood. Awarded Young Designer of the Year 2018 by Design Forum Finland.
Finnish master-cabinetmaker, Antrei Hartikainen, is the country’s current Young Designer of the Year. He grew up in his father’s workshop, playing with off-cuts, crafting wooden swords, learning to make box hinges. As a teenager he spent his summers working for his father’s kitchen company where he gained his first taste of workshop life and a feel for materials. Woodworking is in his blood and has taken him from the childhood workshop in North Karelia to the unique village of Fiskars in South-West Finland.
Fiskars was an industrial hub for 350 years. In the 1990s the Fiskars company ceased production in the village, leading to fears the village would become a picturesque ghost-town. Then the artists moved in – drawn by the tranquil beauty of the location and the offer of affordable work space. They occupied the former homes of iron-workers; the copper smithy became an exhibition space, the village clocktower is now home to Onoma – the Artist’s Co-operative.
During the long Finnish winter months the artistic community of Fiskars has the space to create, in the summer it is filled with visitors from Helsinki and further afield. For Antrei it is the perfect home.
Read about Antrei's work in Issue #001 of the ÅBEN Journal
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“The village is unique, it has a permanent population of around 600, 120 of whom are designers and craftspeople. I came here for an apprenticeship with Nikari, then was offered a summer job. I think of here as home.”
“If someone asks me to make one piece, I make 20 different possibilities.”
Kari Virtanen was one of the first to move to Fiskars, he founded Nikari, the renowned furniture company that accepted Antrei for the last of his vocational apprenticeships. He never left. The apprenticeship led to a summer job and further years of work at Nikari. When Antrei arrived he was one of the youngest makers in the village and immediately felt an affinity with those already resident.
At ÅBEN, sustainability is the thread that links all its founding designers, for Antrei it is an intrinsic part of his design life. He has always created small-batch products and prioritised longevity. Antrei’s studio in Fiskars is a few steps from his home and powered by hydro-electricity from the river which flows through the village. The saw-mill is 200m from his studio providing much of the wood he uses in his work.
The village is encircled by oak, maple and white birch forests. Nature is a constant inspiration to Antrei, he doesn’t often mimic its forms but it is the undercurrent of his work. The long winter before the explosion of spring is often a pivotal moment for the designer. Antrei carries a sketch book with him at all times. Its pages contain shapes and forms of the natural world, alongside architectural details – the shapes that man has made.
Positioning himself in Fiskars, away from the urban centres of design reflects how Antrei views his life as a maker. His training was entirely vocational, his talent for design is unstudied, organic. He describes himself as “a maker, interested in design”. Yet the way in which his work comes into being is purely artistic, flowing from work created for exhibitions.