Designer and cabinet maker
We're sitting in a quiet restaurant with Antrei Hartikainen, with a bit too cheesy old jazz playing in the background. Lunch time has just barely started and the place is still pretty much empty. It's around 11 o'clock and it's gray outside, has been for weeks now.
Antrei Hartikainen is a designer and a master cabinet maker. Born in North Karelia, Finland, he now lives and works in the village of Fiskars, in western Uusimaa, Finland. Antrei talks in a relaxed manner. He's present: looking his interlocutor straight into eye he says only things that he really means without any need to fill up the air with mindless babble. Seems like this man is in no hurry, though I know he has a lot on his plate. Working for several companies both in and outside Finland, he is occupied with multiple projects at the same time.
‘I really hope that in the future we could still have our four seasons in Finland instead of only short summer and a long period of mushy gray.’
Antrei Hartikainen, 2020
Fiskars is one of those places that flourishes and buzzes in the summertime as it is a popular tourist destination, but when the days start to get shorter and darker, only residents, around 600 people, remain. Time slows down and the period of spending majority of the time indoors begins. Antrei's home is located in the very centre of Fiskars and his workspace is half a kilometre walk down the road. The village is compact and has everything one might need but nothing extra. Antrei likes it that way. The village is located in relatively close proximity to bigger cities, if one would start craving for some of that extra. He usually doesn't.
During the winter solstice in Fiskars the sun rises at half past nine and sets around three o'clock in the afternoon. Antrei admits that the darkest period of the year does have an affect to his work and daily routines, but in quite the opposite way that one could imagine. He strives in the darkness and enjoys the lack of all kinds of distractions that summer usually throws in the way. He gets things done.
Years are different now. Antrei's birthday is in October and he still remembers that in his childhood the first snow would fall the same month. "It is no longer so", he explains with his tone of voice reaching nuances of concern, "I really hope that in the future we could still have our four seasons in Finland instead of only short summer and a long period of mushy gray."
Balancing in between art and functional objects, it is clear that Antrei's delicate, almost poetic works are inspired by organic forms of nature. "Especially with sculptures it's pretty much so that I imitate forms around me, usually in the nature. Some silhouettes of forms appear only during the winter time when it's dark. They would in other circumstances be left unseen." It sounds irrational when you think of it, but with Antrei's convincing and calming presence anyone can believe that it indeed is so that in the very darkness you can see more.