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Koivisto Studio: Metsän salat. Yksityiskohta. Image Koivisto Studio

My Forest

Exhibition in the auditorium of the Craft Museum of Finland 3 June–30 August 2020

The My Forest exhibition, created in collaboration with the Finnish Crafts Organization Taito, presents the Finnish people’s relationship with forests, wood as a material, and the forest as a space – not forgetting crafts, naturally. The exhibition will be at the 2nd-floor auditorium of the Craft Museum of Finland from 3 June to 30 August 2020, at CraftCorner  in Helsinki 4–29 September 2020, and at the Pro Puu Gallery in Lahti in 3–30 October 2020. . 

In the exhibition, three craftspeople and two crafts teams bring different aspects of Finnish forests to life: reflections of light, seasonal variation, minuscule plants on the forest floor, dense spruce woods, and the transformation of the forest from a frightening experience to a meditative one. Whittling, which was selected as the Craft Technique of the Year by the Finnish Crafts Organization Taito, also has a special role in the individual installations by the five creators or creator teams. The size of the installations is restricted, and they focus on the creators’ relationship with forests and activities in a forest. 

The exhibition includes works from designers Susanna and Tobias Feuerbacher from Koivisto Studio, master cabinetmaker Antrei Hartikainen, art-craft professional Tarja Heikkilä, artist and furniture designer Milla Vaahtera, and cabinetmakers Ville and Markku Tonttila from Ebonia Design.

These excellent works highlight the unique relationship that people in Finland have with forests, as well as the experiences that colour life even in this era of urbanisation. 

”It’s surprising that the woods that scared me as a child are now my favourite type of woods as an adult: mossy spruce woods dense with the bare trunks of the trees. Moving about in nature inspires my works in many ways. Trees, stumps, light reflections and different shadows, even unassuming twigs on the ground, give me powerful aesthetic experiences,” art-craft professional Tarja Heikkilä describes the background of her contribution to the show. 

The works also comment on the sensitivity of nature’s balance and humans’ impact on nature both as parts of nature and actors who change it. 

“I want to transfer the vulnerability, fragility and beauty of nature into my material of choice, wood, by showing its most fascinating features both structurally and aesthetically,” master cabinetmaker Antrei Hartikainen describes his installation. 

The exhibition is produced by the Craft Museum of Finland and Finnish Crafts Organization Taito in collaboration with the Pro Puu Association. 


Ebonia Design: Ville and Markku Tonttila
Ebonia Design’s installation Spruce Copse started to manifest a will of its own and the power of the forest during its early stages when the material would not bend to the cabinetmakers’ will. Each young spruce wanted to hold on to its individual character, so they were combined into a single entity with organic shapes. “Young spruces have no use in thinning, so we decided to refine the material on our own terms through manual methods, by peeling and carving them,” Ville and Markku Tonttila say. 

Ebonia Design from Lahti takes a respectful and curious approach towards wood. Sculptor, cabinetmaker Ville Tonttila (born 1977) and finish carpenter Markku Tonttila (born 1952) describe wood as a material that lives even after its death, which you need to consider when working on the wood’s structure and joints. Wood is a challenging yet rewarding material where you can sense the unique character of the trunk even in a finished object. Markku Tonttila is also the Chairman and Executive Director of the Pro Puu Association, which aims to strengthen the professional and ideological collaboration of cabinetmakers and designers.

Antrei Hartikainen
SISIN is based on Antrei Hartikainen’s earlier FOSSUS sculptures, but the current entity is made of larger and higher sculptures. As a master cabinetmaker, Hartikainen realised the installation mainly by carving it by hand. The shape, scale, and varying surfaces of the works come from studying the landscape shaped by humans, climate, and nature throughout different seasons and from various distances and perspectives. 

Master cabinetmaker Antrei Hartikainen (born in 1991) has won various awards for his exquisite works in wood. His works combine elegance, craftsmanship and sensual handling of materials. They represent the peak of modern Nordic design. With his works, Hartikainen wants to challenge and blur the strict line between functional objects and works of art. The Young Designer of the Year 2018, Hartikainen has also been Interior Design Magazine’s Best of Year Honoree in 2019 and was named the Emerging Designer of the Year in the Dezeen Awards. 

Tarja Heikkilä
The Primeval Forest installation is based on Heikkilä’s memory of the spruce woods near her childhood home. Despite the woods being relatively small, they were so frightening that you did not want to go there alone. “Primeval Forest has been shaped by my memories, my crafts skills and the characteristics of the dry twigs. The process has been slow, and the installation took its final form only during the process – twig by twig, through listening to and respecting the material. It’s a fairytale-like version of that forest from my childhood. In the middle of tall spruces, there’s a strange birdlike monster, which symbolises the dangers and secrets of the forest, both real and imaginary,” Heikkilä says. 

Over the years, unassuming twigs have turned into a valuable material at the hands of art-craft professional Tarja Heikkilä (born in 1959). Her work with twigs has been captured into three books on crafts from birch twigs, as well as multiple exhibitions and workshops. Heikkilä believes that twigs are an excellent material for modern times.

Koivisto Studio: Susanna and Tobias Feuerbacher
Secrets of the Forest was inspired by reflections of light in a forest and the forest landscape through various perspectives. The view and the light change when you look at the installation from different angles. Clear lines and smooth surfaces combined with the rough surfaces shaped by nature create a fascinating contrast. “The nearly closed-up shape formed by the three parts of the installation symbolises both the mystery and the protection provided by the forest.  The forest is a good place,” Susanna and Tobias Feuerbacher say. 

Designer Susanna Feuerbacher (born in 1986) and cabinetmaker-designer Tobias Feuerbacher (born in 1987) started Koivisto Studio in 2017. The following year, their Valo & Varjo (‘Light & Shadow’) jewellery line won the FORM 2018 award of the German Association of Arts and Crafts. The designer couple working out of the Koivisto farm in Karkkila wants to design products that have a long service life and impact the environment as little as possible. They favour renewable materials in their products. The surrounding countryside and nature offer them an endless source of inspiration and a peaceful environment to work in.

Milla Vaahtera
Designer and artist from Helsinki, Milla Vaahtera, interprets the theme of the forest by creating sculptures of glass and brass. Her installation is inspired by the minuscule vegetation on the forest floor “In the sculptures, the imaginary small plants become large and magical. Moss, small berries and flowers grow into large ones. Through this approach, I’m trying to capture the sense of wonder that small children feel in a forest. I want to recreate that experience for adults who may have forgotten how it feels. The installation consists of five works,” Vaahtera describes her installation. 

In her works, Master of Arts Milla Vaahtera (born in 1981) studies both body image and sexuality and the implementation of the creative process through improvisation and interaction. The brass parts of the works have been made by Vaahtera and her mother, who is a silversmith, using traditional jewellery techniques, but on a different scale. Vaahtera wants to revive the Finnish glass art tradition and also introduce new elements into it.

More information

Mikko Oikari, intendentti, Suomen käsityön museo 
p. 050 553 3880, mikko.oikari [at]