Based on the island of Lauttasaari in Helsinki, Ville Auvinen is a cabinet maker and a furniture designer with an inescapable taste for sculptural expression.
While he retains a perpetual focus on Scandinavian craftsmanship and functionality, Ville enjoys exploring new fields of possibility; especially those which combine his woodworking skill, design expertise and passion for sculpture. “I like to merge art and design, because it means the art in your home isn’t just something you look at, but something you use. And perhaps you feel more connected to a sculptural piece because it has a function.”
His interest in furniture-making started young. “I’ve been building since I was a little kid, when I would make downhill carts with my brother.” Ville studied woodworking at Luksia before joining a small workshop in the village of Fiskars, where he developed a taste for design. Upon leaving this position, he set up his own studio, and soon after, embarked on a design degree at the Lahti Institute of Design.
Ville has lived in Helsinki for most of his life and his interest in the built environment often translates to his work — especially when it comes to the layering and combining of materials. “The architecture in Helsinki’s city centre is really beautiful with all of its old buildings. But the textures of all cities — whether they be concrete or comprised of older structures — are very inspiring to me.”
“I like to merge art and design, because it means the art in your home isn’t just something you look at, but something you use.”
“Function is important to me, but I also want my pieces to have character — for them not to be too simplistic.”
Innovation often comes from the raw materials with which he works — namely solid woods like oak and ash. “Wood has always been so natural to me — and was always so nice to work with. In Finland, you see it a lot because it’s used everywhere. But I mostly like wood because it’s just really beautiful. Everytime you create something, it looks different.”
Due to his skill with wood, Ville likes to challenge his favourite material. As a result, his timeless, clean designs are set apart by something undefinable which is often expressed in a small detail or unexpected form — such as the Vieno Dining Table, which was inspired by traditional Finnish ‘peasant’ furniture, where the four legs were shaped by hand.
“Function is important to me, but I also want my pieces to have character — for them not to be too simplistic. The Vieno Table has these curved legs which is a small gesture but gives it a very recognisable look. I think that’s a common thread in all my industrial pieces.”
Ville will also be producing a design for ÅBEN, which was motivated by recent events; “I was inspired by the pandemic when I created my home-office cabinets. They are specifically for people working-from-home since coronavirus began. The piece allows for working while seated or standing, but crucially it still has the cosy, comfortable aesthetic — not an office vibe.”
When embarking on a new project, Ville likes to begin a project quite cerebrally at first. “My notebook has a lot of writing because often I don’t start with sketching and drawing — I prefer to get my ideas down with words. So I will write about the background of the product; my inspiration and the relevant thoughts and ideas. Only then will I go to the workshop, and start to think about scale models and building a prototype.”
Ville holds fast to his philosophy of aesthetics which edicts that an object should not be dictated by the industrial production techniques as much as the designer’s desired atmosphere. “If you let industrial practices dictate a design, they can become really simplistic. As I make the pieces myself and have the skill to work with wood, I know what’s possible. Each piece innately has a soul, which needs to be a predominant feature of the final product.”
“Each piece innately has a soul, which needs to be a predominant feature of the final product.”