Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Ari Korolainen ("AK") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

AK : I graduated as an architect (B.Arch.) in 1984. I designed houses for about a year.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

AK : When working as an architect, I often carried with me heavy briefcases full of construction drawings. I started thinking about what would be an easier and better way of storing them and carrying them around to different places. So I created a lightweight briefcase for myself from cardboard. Soon the cardboard briefcase aroused a lot of attention, and people asked me where they could buy one.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

AK : So I had to establish my own factory, PRIVATE CASE OY, and started to design more items.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

AK : I have designed a large stationery collection.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

AK : A young designer has to be patient, work hard, and trust in his work.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

AK : Differences between a good designer and a great designer... I think a good designer designs a lot. A great designer listens a lot.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

AK : Good design creates a feeling of strong attraction, a really good design experience.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

AK : Investing in good design is an investment in a better future for yourself.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

AK : My dream project is to design a house for myself, with my own furniture.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

AK : I want to design items that have an element of surprise for their user, and that create a positive experience

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

AK : Knowing the amount of work they have put in and difficulties they have overcome, I admire their achievements.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

AK : It is hard to say what is my greatest design. Is it Private Case, is it the Helsinki Opera collection, is it Click, or is it Divine? Design is great when people call it classic.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

AK : Always be willing to learn and to accept new challenges. Be curious and keep your eyes open for problems that need solving.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

AK : An architect or a designer – there were not other possibilities.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

AK : Design is like a way of life.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

AK : I think my family has been my greatest support even though it is not always been easy. A young designer with great ideas, without money.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

AK : Feedback from my designer friends has been very important too.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

AK : Next is coming ... new environmentally friendly material for Private Case products.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

AK : To create a positive feeling in the customer when he or she finds out about my products.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

AK : When people learn about my products, they expect plain design with a new kind of idea or detail.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

AK : My latest design is Buy Local, where I try to get people to use local products.Design should reflect the values behind it. This way, design can bring people together and spread awareness of current issues and can encourage everyone to take action. My latest design, under the BUY LOCAL mark, is an example of this. The marking tells the user where a product is made. It is designed to increase the use of local goods and encourages promotion of local production. By making the decision to buy local, the user contributes to supporting the local economy and employment.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

AK : My next project is BUY LOCAlL ... to inform the people where the products are made. To get people to use local products.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

AK : I designed a Christmas tree made of opal plastic. With a lamp inside, it projected the image of a star on the ceiling of the church. The sight was overwhelming, and everybody went completely silent.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

AK : I have several projects going on at the same time. Even if a work seems completed, I can spend a long time thinking about whether I could still improve it somehow

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

AK : In a new project, I have to understand the problem

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

AK : Keep it simple!

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

AK : I think design sets trends, but designers make it wanted.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

AK : I use pencils at first, but later I use my assistant’s skills.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

AK : I think colours play an important role in catching people's interest and making an impression. Good design pleases as many of our senses as possible.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

AK : I'd like people to ask where I got the idea for a design. And where they can buy the product.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

AK : I feel respect towards the designer behind the design. As a designer, I understand the amount of work a successful design can require.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

AK : A group of designers can surely achieve much together, but I believe that in the end, there has to be someone who says the final word.

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

AK : Keep improving all your skills by trying to do better every time.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

AK : Mondrian, ... Rietveld, ... Le Corbusier..

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

AK : It is a great honour to receive such attention from Italy, the leading country of design.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

AK : Bright basic colours are my favourite: red, blue, yellow, white, black. I like Como. It is nice to sit down in a restaurant and have, for example, a pizza and a beer. Enjoying the weather of coming summer.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

AK : A long time ago, in the early ’90s, an advertising agency bought many pieces of furniture that I had designed. Twenty years later, the owner of the agency was retiring and wanted to take all of the pieces to her summer cottage, but they didn’t fit into it. She planned to expand the cottage but didn't get a building permit for the expansion. She decided to buy more land from their neighbour so that they could build a new summer house that would have room for all of the furniture. However, the neighbour didn't agree to sell the land. The advertising agency owner then began taking furniture to various places: she, for instance, took two sofas to a golf club, her husband's workplace. But when the husband retired, they called me and asked whether I was willing to reclaim the two sofas that had not fit anywhere. I bought them back gladly.

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

AK : It is a pleasure to get feedback from customers who still have some of the first items I designed about 30 years ago.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

AK : As a child I did a lot with my hands, without knowing that it was the first step in my design career.



Divine Big light pot

Divine Big light pot by Ari Korolainen

Olga Case

Olga Case by Ari Korolainen

Cubic Multifunctional chair

Cubic Multifunctional chair by Ari Korolainen

Teip Case

Teip Case by Ari Korolainen

Big Click Multifunctional table

Big Click Multifunctional table by Ari Korolainen

Pocket Refillable notebook

Pocket Refillable notebook by Ari Korolainen

All You Need Organizer

All You Need Organizer by Ari Korolainen

Smile  Business card holder

Smile Business card holder by Ari Korolainen

Cubic Slim Chair

Cubic Slim Chair by Ari Korolainen

Wake Up Boarding Time Tag

Wake Up Boarding Time Tag by Ari Korolainen

Divide Light fixture

Divide Light fixture by Ari Korolainen

Please Have a Seat Chair

Please Have a Seat Chair by Ari Korolainen

Left&Right Armchair

Left&Right Armchair by Ari Korolainen

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