Samuli spent 10 years working in marketing and sales before he realised he was on entirely the wrong path. At 31 he quit his job, sold his apartment, shed his possessions and spent the next 7 months travelling the world. The way in which he travelled reflects the way he now designs.
“The most important thing for me as a designer is that I’m curious and open to different things. That is how I travelled.”
When Samuli returned from his travels and set-up home in Helsinki he started making furniture for himself. This was his light-bulb moment, the beginning of the path he had been searching for. It reminded him of the deep pleasure he got as a child from creating intricate, cardboard houses for his model train set. Both his parents were visually orientated; his father was a talented painter and illustrator and the couple ran a video production company in the 80s. Despite working in the creative industry himself, his father warned him off a career in that sector. But Samuli doesn’t see his years of work as a weakness, rather he views his life experience as a purely positive element. It helped make him the designer he is today.
He grasped the opportunity to transform a love of making into a career with a ferocious passion that has not dimmed. “Once I realised my path it gave me a tremendous amount of energy and motivation. I’m an optimistic guy – I think this combination of optimism and energy creates an internal flame” Samuli was accepted to the Lahti Institute of Design before embarking on a Masters at Aalto.
“I couldn’t believe there was this world where I could study these things. We started from the complete basics. It was a new world for me and I was fully motivated.” After graduating he was invited by some of his former teachers at Lahti to share a studio space which meant he could work on his own designs while still inhaling all the knowledge he could from Aalto.
Read about Samuli's process in Issue #001 of the Åben Journal
Discover and Purchase Samuli's work in the Åben Shop
“It was love at first sight. The process is magical, there are so many different elements you need to consider and you only see the end result when you open the kiln door. Only then can you see what it has become.”
As part of his studies he travelled to Berlin in 2013 where another part of his design life fell into place – ceramics. After his return from Berlin, Samuli began to focus on ceramics and furniture design and they remain his twin focus. The natural world is a source of constant inspiration and energy for Samuli. From the forests that surround Helsinki, to the frozen expanse of sea ice in the city’s harbour in winter; even the jungle of plants in his apartment that Samuli has nurtured from seeds. Once a year he travels to Lapland for the absolute quiet and still.
Samuli’s core artistic values centre around Finnish materials and Finnish craftmanship. He seeks to design pieces that will be passed from one generation to another, that gain lustre rather than diminish with age. Samuli’s dedication to design, his belief that he can make life a little better through his work and the inner confidence that stems from knowing he’s finally doing exactly what he was meant to do, make him stand-out.
“I don’t see it as a design career, it’s a life”
“I felt I did something for so long that was not so inspiring.
Once I realised my path, it gave me a tremendous amount of energy and motivation.”