Artek 2011

Fixtures that put light first and other revelations from Finland's design pioneers

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In 2010 Artek celebrated its 75th anniversary. This past week as part of Milan’s design festivities, the Finnish company made a strong statement positioning themselves with a confident eye toward the future, grounded by their design heritage as they head into their 76th year. Along with a new forward-thinking line of lighting fixtures called White (pictured above), Artek announced Open Archives, an online repository of images of Artek interiors, as well as the acquisition of the rights to produce Ilmari Tapiovaara’s furniture collection, a true icon of Northern European design. (See more images of the White collection in the gallery below.


In a private showcase at Galleria Giò Marconi, we asked Ville Kokkonen, Design Director of Artek, who also heads up White about the new series of lighting solutions. Consisting of four models, the line is the upshot of in-depth research on the use of light fixtures in domestic, office and public settings. “We have studied the effects of lack of lighting in the Northern Countries,” Kokkonen shared, “and this was the starting point for the achievement of the right intensity and quality of light that we wanted. We have also interviewed creative people in order to understand how light should correctly fill working environments.”


As a result, the White light collection is utterly essential; the strict standards and quality requirements of the light determine the design of each object. Composed solely of wood and matte plexiglas, each box-like lamp has a pure, simplistic character. “We chose not to use LEDs, because they don’t produce the diffused and uniform light we were thinking about,” Kokkonen explained. “At the end, each one of our new lamps obtained a medical certification, since they meet all the necessary characteristics required by the Finnish health associations.”


Another clever new project, Open Archives showcases past and present Artek interiors from around the world, from 1935 to modern-day. The site also functions as a community for Artek’s fans; images can be shared, tagged and freely used in blogs.