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.
AK : I graduated as an architect (B.Arch.) in 1984. I designed houses for about a year.
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.
AK : So I had to establish my own factory, PRIVATE CASE OY, and started to design more items.
AK : I have designed a large stationery collection.
AK : A young designer has to be patient, work hard, and trust in his work.
AK : Differences between a good designer and a great designer... I think a good designer designs a lot. A great designer listens a lot.
AK : Good design creates a feeling of strong attraction, a really good design experience.
AK : Investing in good design is an investment in a better future for yourself.
AK : My dream project is to design a house for myself, with my own furniture.
AK : I want to design items that have an element of surprise for their user, and that create a positive experience
AK : Knowing the amount of work they have put in and difficulties they have overcome, I admire their achievements.
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.
AK : Always be willing to learn and to accept new challenges. Be curious and keep your eyes open for problems that need solving.
AK : An architect or a designer – there were not other possibilities.
AK : Design is like a way of life.
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.
AK : Feedback from my designer friends has been very important too.
AK : Next is coming ... new environmentally friendly material for Private Case products.
AK : To create a positive feeling in the customer when he or she finds out about my products.
AK : When people learn about my products, they expect plain design with a new kind of idea or detail.
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.
AK : My next project is BUY LOCAlL ... to inform the people where the products are made. To get people to use local products.
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.
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
AK : In a new project, I have to understand the problem
AK : Keep it simple!
AK : I think design sets trends, but designers make it wanted.
AK : I use pencils at first, but later I use my assistant’s skills.
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.
AK : I'd like people to ask where I got the idea for a design. And where they can buy the product.
AK : I feel respect towards the designer behind the design. As a designer, I understand the amount of work a successful design can require.
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.
AK : Keep improving all your skills by trying to do better every time.
AK : Mondrian, ... Rietveld, ... Le Corbusier..
AK : It is a great honour to receive such attention from Italy, the leading country of design.
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.
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.
AK : It is a pleasure to get feedback from customers who still have some of the first items I designed about 30 years ago.
AK : As a child I did a lot with my hands, without knowing that it was the first step in my design career.
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