LEGENDARY INTERVIEW

Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Anna-Reetta Väänänen ("AV") 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?

AV : I got interested in design as a young adult. I have grown in an environment where usability, function and beauty are the main reasons for getting artefacts. A good understanding of form giving and the love towards arts comes from my childhood hobbies. I fell in love with jewelry design meanwhile my studies in Kuopio Academy of Design Savonia University of applied sciences. I think I knew I wanted to work with arts and have a creative job, but the full understanding of design and especially jewelry design grew during my studies. I have a degree in product design (jewelry and metalwork) (BA) and business and administration (MA). As a designer who works also as an entrepreneur is good to combine knowledge from both of those fields. I have started my design career from jewelry factory and after that I improved my skills by working as a goldsmith and a saleswoman in a jewelry store. I have gathered knowledge from all fields of jewelry, I think. It’s a whole package and not just a slice of it.

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

AV : I wanted to create beautiful and meaningful jewelry that last time. I also enjoy working with my hands and imagination.

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

AV : It was more or less my destiny to become a designer. I never planned it.

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

AV : In the future I want to design jewelry. But I would like to collaborate with other fields as well like bag design.

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

AV : I want to encourage young designer to explore all kinds of interesting sides of life. Every single experience grows your knowledge and improves your skills in design. I think open minded thinking can make a difference.

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

AV : A skill to make timeless, time lasting ang high quality design that is also functional and beautiful more than once.

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

AV : I evaluate the greatness of design with the number of times I use or could use the product or design. It’s not enough just to wear or use something only once. If the appearance of the item still touches you after years, it’s great design.

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

AV : Value of good design can be measured in many ways, not only in money. Sometimes the value can be personal, cultural or even environmental. To invest in good design is like sending a message to designers to continue their work with improving our world.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

AV : I would design jewelry to all of those who have a beautiful story to tell.

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

AV : My dream project would be making an exclusive an nordic style jewelry collection together with Dior. I admire their style and skills in jewelry making.

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

AV : My secret ingredient in design is love. I’m such a sentimental fool that it almost makes me laugh. I add emotions and love in to everything. I want and can tell stories with my design.

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

AV : I admire Finnish jewelry legend Björn Weckströms open-minded way to create items. And I also admire shoe designer Minna Parikka’s way of branding.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

AV : I can not choose the best from my favorites but I think I like Harri Koskinen's K chair. I find it a great combination of traditional Finnish weaving technique and modern design.

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

AV : My favorite is Waves jewelry collection. It has that something. Weight, looks and wearability all in one.

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

AV : Listening to customers and customer segments feedback is important. I also find very important to improve technical skills by training.

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

AV : I would probably be a graphic designer. It’s really hard to consider another profession because I have really lost my soul to jewelry.

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

AV : I define design as a combination of information, knowledge, feeling, appearance and the brand all in one.

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

AV : I have to thank my family and friends from all the support they have given me through all these years. I admire many people and owe then a lot from their kind words and encouragement. My teacher from Kuopio Design Academy once told me he believed I was going to be great in design. Perhaps that is something to remember. I hope all talents get support from someone they look up to.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

AV : I have inherited a character that is relentless. Maybe I have to thank my parents for that.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

AV : It takes a lot of recourses to make it in design business in Finland. It has been a long way to be taken seriously.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

AV : E-platforms have bee a great place to get your design in to public knowledge. High quality and original style are the ways to present design.

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

AV : Right now I am working with new jewelry collections for next season. I hope I will find my way to collaboration projects as well.

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

AV : I don’t know if I have an ultimate goal as a designer. Life and a career is a marathon for learning. Maybe my goal is to learn and design as much and as good as I can.

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

AV : People expect great design and variable jewelry. They expect quality and usability.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

AV : There are many possibilities to influence society or make it better. My way of doing it is to design object that last time. I try to encourage people to consume wiser and less. I also recognize my responsibility in recycling and preparing jewelry.

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

AV : I am excited about collaborating with a sports team and their social behavior.

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

AV : I get the biggest satisfaction from happy customers. When I get their stories to shine in a jewelry I am happy.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

AV : I would like to see changes in our ways to consume and manufacture. Environmental issues are for all of us to rethink. It’s a matter of over consuming and creating things that can’t last time or be repaired. Shiny brand is not enough.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

AV : Design business is heading towards recycled materials and slow design. This current pandemic has given us ability to look really close and pay attention to things that really matter.

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

AV : A design project can take from weeks to years. To finish a unique piece can sometimes be really fast but to finish a design that is part of a collection can take years. Maybe 3 years is the maximum time I have spent on a project.

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

AV : I start on the issue. I approach it from many angles and choose the things I want to explore. To understand the problematics and cultural meaning is important. Then I move towards sketches and paper wax or metal models.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

AV : Make only things that matter.

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

AV : Design sets the trends.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

AV : I use old goldsmith’s techniques, lost wax casting and modern 3d modelling and printing. I use all kinds of combinations of technology everyday.

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

AV : I use Adobe softwares, Rhinoceros 3D-modelling software but I have traditional goldsmiths equipment’s too.

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

AV : Creating harmony is a challenge, I think. Materials can be considered as a limitation or as a possibility. It depends how you see it. There can be unlimited amount of variations in working with precious metals.

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

AV : I love when people as me the story behind a jewelry. Then I know they are graving for more then just a pretty surface.

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

AV : Great design makes me want to try it or touch it. For example, you know when you see a great handle, you want to touch it.

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

AV : My ideal design partner or a co-designer would be someone who knows different kind of skills than I. It would be nice to learn and teach and by that create something new and unseen.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

AV : Everyone I meet influences me and my design. I just have to find the right time and place to use the influence in a right way. I keep my eyes on fashion to see the trends but at the same time I keep my feet on the ground to feel the roots.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

AV : I read children’s books and novels. They have given me high imagination.

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

AV : Skills have been achieved by years of training in multiple fields of jewelry making and business thinking. It’s not easy to explain. it’s something you achieve by doing and trying.

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

AV : I would like to meet Astrid Lindgren to talk with her about her life.

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

AV : I do not consider myself as famous. It’s not something to aim at. More important is to be true to yourself and make your best everyday in work and life itself.

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

AV : I have many favorite colors. It changes in every season. My favorite place is my parents’ lakeside home and their dock. I like summer the most but winter is also just perfect. My favorite brand is right now Weecos a sustainable webshop.

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

AV : My funniest memory from my designer career must have been the first photo shoots when I decided to train a young cow for the pictures. I went to a barn with a big ego and ended up being pulled on the floor by a very powerful animal. It was a good reminder that I have to take things slow and respect animals instincts and nature.

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

AV : My open-minded and exploring nature is my strength. It motivates to think what new can I create today.

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

AV : It was not obvious to become a designer. As a child it is more important to try everything and explore the world, culture and try techniques freely as much as possible. I think it’s the best for kids to let them show their own interest and let the time do the work.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

AV : I hope the future holds good things for a humankinds and earth. I hope by then we have achieved understanding of our ecosystem and respect everything around us.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

AV : You can make pretty things easily. But pleace try to make more than that.

LEGENDARY DESIGNER

ANNA-REETTA VääNäNEN MAKES HER NATURE AND STORY INSPIRED JEWELRY DESIGN AT THE COUNTRYSIDE. HER JEWELRY BRAND ANNA'S DARLING IS NOT THE MOST COMMON ONE BECAUSE OF HER METHODS, STYLE AND LOCATION. THIS 39 YEARS OLD DESIGNER HAS STARTED HER CAREER BY ACCIDENT. SHE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A CARTOONIST OR ANYTHING ELSE EXCEPT A FARMER. BUT THEN SHE FELLED IN LOVE WITH JEWELRY AND LATER WITH A FARMER. AS A BRAND ANNA'S DARLING REFLECTS THE OWNERS OWN MISSION TO CREATE BETTER AND MORE MEANINGFULL JEWELRY. TO CONSUME WISELY AND ONLY THINGS THAT LAST TIME AND CAN BE PREPARED. CLASSIC LINES, PRECIOUS METALS AND NEW DESIGN GUARANTEES THE JEWELRYS LONG LIFE. BY COMBINING OLD GOLDSMITHS TECHNIQUES AND 3D PRINTING THE JEWELRY GET THEIR FORM. BY USING THE UPPER-SAVO COUNTRYSIDE LOCATIONS BENEFITS IT ALL GETS A UNIQUE LOOKS AND FEELING. CLEAN WATERS, FORESTS AND FIELD ARE ALLOWED TO SHOW IN THE JEWELRY. ALSO THEIR DAIRY FARM BEAUTIES, COWS, GIVE THEIR OWN TWIST FOR THE BRAND AND KEEP THE DESIGNERS FEET TIGHTLY IN THE SOIL AND TRADITIONS.


Marilyn Bracelet

Marilyn Bracelet by Anna-Reetta Väänänen


Marilyn Jewelry

Marilyn Jewelry by Anna-Reetta Väänänen


Waves Necklace

Waves Necklace by Anna-Reetta Väänänen


Sarah Ring

Sarah Ring by Anna-Reetta Väänänen

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