Antrei Hartikainen’s new design objects show materials taken to their extremes

”The balance between delicate beauty and unstable weakness create a surprising and cohesive whole, consisting of furniture, products, and sculptures,” one of the most interesting emerging Nordic designers explains.
November 15, 2021

Based in Fiskars village, Hartikainen, who’s also a master cabinetmaker, works with challenging the traditional categorizations between functional objects and visual arts. During the recent Helsinki Design Week, he presented Fragile, an exhibition themed around the fragility of man and nature.

— It’s reflected in wood, glass, and their various manufacturing processes, he tells. The vulnerability, fragility, and beauty of nature, as well as the human mind and body, are present in the layers of the exhibition pieces. The tension between the works arises in the contrast of gloomy and light surfaces, and the dialogue between the characteristics of glass and wood as materials. The materials taken to their extremes balance between delicate beauty and unstable weakness. These create a surprising and cohesive whole, consisting of furniture, products, and sculptures.

For the exhibition, he presented the previously developed Sisin sculpture series and four new collections — Melt, Skin, Hattu, and Sula — that reflect the theme in different ways.

— Melt glass vases and objects are a continuation of my previously developed cabinet collection from pine wood. The collection has been inspired by metamorphosis of the movement of water. By melting the ice again becomes liquid like rain. Importance and essence of water have defined the thematics, where glass and wood materials are transformed into unique formations. The Skin collection studies the ultimate structural and visual lightness of wooden furniture. The exterior consists of translucent ultra-thin plywood and the frame is constructed of vertical strips and hollow horizontal boards. The structure allows the cabinets to be light and sturdy, while thoughtful details and silhouettes of the things stored inside create a recognizable look. These cabinets provide a peaceful serene backdrop for the favorite pieces. The materials are seen in their natural state without surface treatment and the surface material 0.4mm thin plywood is utilized on the surface as it is from the factory, without sanding or surface treatment, Hartikainen tells. He continues:

— Hattu plates have taken the form of an upside-down hat that reflects begging. A person begging on the street is equated with a person who is mentally and or physically broken. Wooden plates are all individuals and together they form different sets with variations in surface treatments, sizes, and wood species. Reflecting the fragility of human life and the fact that things are not always fair, some of the plates are sandblasted weak, and partially punctured. Lastly, the Sula relief series examines the grooves formed by water in the soil and how liquid matter flows along various surfaces, forming lines and traces. Melting, heavy rains, and floods are strongly linked to climate change and the end result can be ugly in every way. However, Sula reliefs also reflect the beautiful natural forms of melting created by, for example, seasonal variations.