I AM WOMAN
Vuorio graduated from Helsinki University of Technology (currently Aalto) in 1999 and collaborated with professor Yrjö Kukkapuro at a furniture business Avarte for the next decade. She got a possibility to become a part of the story of the Finnish wood design company Nikari in 2009, when she was appointed the managing director. In 2010 Vuorio became the major shareholder of Nikari, following the founder, award-winning master cabinet maker Kari Virtanen.
Today Vuorio’s idea is to cherish the strong Nikari philosophy of combining high quality craftsmanship with contemporary design and sustainable values, something that, in her own words “can be an inspiring example of an ultramodern, meaningful furniture production”. Vuorio works for keeping the local craftsmanship skills alive by providing traineeship possibilities for young cabinet maker apprentices. Nikari is collaborating with international designers such as Jasper Morrison, Louise Campbell, Alfredo Häberli, Harri Koskinen and Nao Tamura, publishing new products on a frequent basis.
There is so much to learn and about Nikari and all the wonderful things they do, What better person to Speak to than the CEO of Nikari Johanna Vuorio
What inspires you to design?
I think that a well-made object usually lasts time and is cherished by the user for a long time, thus reducing the amount of waste. Hopefully we could concentrate on creating high-quality, sustainable products that you never want or have to throw away - this is one of the core ideas of today's design to me.
How did you develop your style?
I don’t know the answer to this question – I’m not so sure if I have a certain style. However, I have had the privilege of working with very talented and wise people whose opinions and thoughts have had a big effect on my thinking. Probably traveling and living abroad have made their mark, too. It is also quite special to work in an environment like Fiskars village. You see art, beautiful nature, great craftsmanship every day – after experiencing that you begin to see and appreciate things a bit differently. Pure, simple, natural things usually inspire me most. And light – it is important here in the north.
What do you think is the biggest challenge in the industry today?
Not to give up to the temptation of making (or buying) things cheap and easy, and in the process lose the high ideas: we don’t need more stuff in the world, we should aim to find ways of making a living with creating long-lasting objects and reducing the amount of waste.
What gets you through the day?
My days are so different from each other that I usually just feel curious about what will lie ahead. You never know how the day goes, it’s unbelievable.
Are you a tea or coffee person?
Mmmm… I’m a chocolate person.
What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?
Human voice – languages that give us the tools to communicate, including music.
What is something you can’t live without?
Water, air, nature, my family!
What is your favourite brand at the moment?
It’s impossible to choose one favourite, but today I could mention Marimekko –refreshing, inspiring new things. Something to follow.
What is your favourite place to eat?
Helsinki’s restaurant scene is brilliant – the city is filled with great places to eat. It is always lovely to meet with friends at one of the beautiful restaurants and somewhat challenging to find time to check all the interesting newcomers. However, in the end I would prefer intimate dinners at home, together with friends and family.
What product excited you the most recently?
We visited a cool Swedish leather factory recently: somehow I can’t forget the high quality of the leather saddles and other riding equipment we saw there at the saddlery. Superb quality in every detail, that is always such a pleasure to see.
What’s your favourite colour at the moment?
I have loved all the shades of grey - the colours of stormy seas, round stones on the beaches, cloudy northern skies - as long as I remember.
What is the greatest thing you’ve learnt through your career?
You can’t underestimate the power of a great team – more minds: better results. Plus: your intuition is usually right.
What is the achievement you’re most proud of?
Please ask this again after a couple of decades…
What methodologies, systems or routines do you have in place to make sure you are productive everyday?
I try to write everything down so I don’t need to stress about remembering something in particular. It also helps to have a ”main title” for different weekdays so I know what issues to prioritise and when. Above all, it is important to notice that you stay more productive and focused if you manage to take some minutes off even at the most hectic period of your working week, so hiking with the dog in the woods or at the beach is a necessity.
If you could give one piece of advice to young female (designers), what would it be?
Trust yourself, enjoy this one life you have and never forget to stop learning.