Little has been written about the use of teak and other hardwood materials in industrial design in Finland. Denmark and Sweden have made a bigger mark and they did also have a much larger production. In this post I’m focusing on smaller object although some Finnish manufacturers made furniture in both solid teak and veneer.
Sakari Pykälä (1926-1996)
In the 1950’s Pykälä worked as an glass artist at Riihimäki glass works making art and serial production objects.
He also worked with wood creating large sculptures and smaller decoration objects during the 1960-1970’s. The theme was often various kinds of birds but he also made bowls such as the ones in the image below.
Eino Mattila (1912-1971)
Eino Mattila from Riihimäki (1912-1971) worked at Riihimäen Lasi as a wood mould maker up until 1958. Among others he created the moulds for Nanny Still’s glass objects. Nanny Still also made a glass bowl – teak tray combination but I don’t know if Mattila played a part in it. After Riihimäki he started his own company, which was active until the late 1960’s. In his own shop he mainly manufactured salad bowls, different sized teak plates and candle holders. Eino Mattila’s products were principally sold at Stockmann’s department stores in Helsinki and Tampere.
Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985)
Wirkkala used teak in many of his creations often combining it with silver or using it to add details to small goods and furniture. He also made solid teak objects in the shape of bowls like the one below for Asko, where he worked as a freelance designer. It is a rare curiosity though.
Yki Nummi (1925-1984)
Nummi mainly worked at Orno making lamps and light fixtures most often using plastic but sometimes combining it with teak. He also made household items at Sanka such as trays and bowls, usually combining acrylic with teak or rosewood. From 1958 to 1974 he also worked at the Tikkurila paint factory specialising in color development. Nummi’s work is always marked with stickers which makes items hard to identify if the sticker has come loose.
Bertel Gardberg (1916-2007)
Gardberg was trained in Denmark, which explains his exceptional skills in woodworking, and opened up his own shop in Helsinki in the late 1940’s. Initially he worked on industrial design objects and interior for churches. Church would even become his speciality and it is what he is best known for. He skilfully combined steel, silver and wood in his work and often used teak.
Luhti Oy (1934- )
Luhti Oy was founded in 1934. The company has always been in Helsinki, first in Kallio, then in Sörnäinen and from the 1950’s onwards in Vartioharju. The company mainly focused on wood turning partly by hand but also using automated machines. They made wooden handles and railing, furniture parts and also Mekano toys for a number of years. During the 1970’s plastic objects replaced wood and Luhti started focusing on interiors and furniture. The company still exists today.
Very little is known about Lindholm but they made trays, bowls, serving plates and other household items, often combined with glass objects by Nuutajärvi or Kumela. The factory was founded by Olof Lindholm in 1957 and it was located in Dragsfjärd in the west of Finland. The company changed its name to Oy Wilhelm Wood Ab in 1978. Their objects are always marked Lindholm Bangkok-Teak Made In Finland.
Lainisalo (1957 – )
Lainisalo was founded in Lahela, Tuusula by Pentti Lainisalo (1934 -2005) in in 1957. Initially the company made wooden parts for Martela and TM-Kaluste, the latter founded in the same year. They also made wooden shells for radios and other furniture, that were sold to the department store Stockmann.
The company moved into trays later on together with the company Lindholm, also on this list. The trays are marked with a capital L and Made in Finland, either with a burn mark or a sticker.
Lainisalo changed its name into Muotovaneri later on and was sold to Backman in the 1980s.
Nanny Still (and Bertel Gardberg) at Norrmark Handarbete / Noormarkun Käsityöt (1961-1977)
Noormarkun Käsityöt (Noormarkku Handicraft) was started by Artek founder Maire Gullichsen and silver smith Bertel Gardberg in 1961 and it was situated in one of the houses at the Noormarkku ironworks. The thought was to improve the state of handicraft in the region and involved were also the designer Nanny Still and Birgitta Berg. Initially the production consisted of turned wood objects but later on rugs and furniture were also produced. The wooden objects are all marked with the Noormarkku / Norrmark N and with the name Finnmade.
Nanny Still is mostly known for her glass objects but she also made some other items out of wood such as salad servers. Bertel Gardberg was already known as a teak artist and he kept on making similar items after Noormarkun Käsityöt was closed in 1977.
Reino Jauhiainen – Sotkamo (1932-2000)
Reino (R.) Jauhiainen from Sotkamo / Tipasoja. He had his own logo in the shape of a capercaillie and he brought teak from Thailand (Bangkok Teak).
He also made lifelike sculptures out of wood depicting scenes from Finland in the 1800s, as well as peasantry objects.
So there you have it. These are the main Finnish artists and companies working with teak that I know of. There are many many more that made decorative or useful objects out of wood but they used birch or pine so I left them out. If you have anything to add, please comment!