TERHI TUOMINEN AND MIKKO LAAKKONENYoung Designers of the Year 2009
How would you describe yourself and how did you become a designer?
Terhi: "I'm an interior architect and furniture designer. I set up my own company Design Studio Terhi Tuominen in 2006. My design work reflects my personality – I'm optimistic, unconventional and playful. I became a designer through determination."
Mikko: "I'm a cheerful guy from Finland's capital of natural beauty! I became a designer, because I've always been interested in almost everything between heaven and earth. This, of course, means that I don't know too much about anything, but a little about a lot of things. I originally studied guitar-making, but then I realized that I'm better at designing things than actually making them."
Tell about your work!
Terhi: "I design premises where businesses can ultimately function better and creatively. A major part of my design philosophy is to cater towards the well-being of the companies’ employees. As a furniture designer I create elegant, modern furniture and products."
Mikko: "I design utility objects for companies in Finland and abroad. I want to find solutions, generate ideas."
Mikko, what is important for you in a design product?
Mikko: "In furniture and products the important thing is generally a combination of function and aesthetics, but with the primary consideration that the product must function."
What is important to you in your own design work, Terhi?
Terhi: "Throughout the design process, it is important to create works in which I believe. I feel that the end design should create added value, provide solutions and arouse thoughts."
When do you feel you have succeeded in your work?
Terhi: "Although difficult, I find it vital to continuously question oneself about the design in order to reach something that I and the client are totally happy with. I feel a design is not complete until all parties involved are satisfied."
Mikko: "It's also important for me to establish a functioning, interactive and long-term relationship with the manufacturing company. When the client, either the manufacturer or the end-user, and I are satisfied with the product I feel that I've succeeded."
What’s it like to be a young designer in Finland in the 2000s?
Terhi: "To be a young designer in the 2000s feels probably pretty much the same as being a young designer in the 1980s, but without the perm!"
Mikko: "It is mostly good to be a designer! When I was recently in Venice, looking at prototypes, I thought over a glass of wine that I could have made a worse choice of career. The only difficult thing that makes my hair turn grey is money, or more precisely, lack of it. A basic-level income is sometimes pretty hard to achieve."
Finnish or international? Do you barrack for Finland?
Terhi: "International, so that people abroad will know what "Go Finland!" really means."
Mikko: "They're not mutually exclusive. I'm Finnish and proud of it, but it seems impossible to me to work only in Finland, for then it would be a fantasy to even imagine that you could live on it here."
Terhi, what do you think of Mikko’s work?
Terhi: "It rocks!"
What about you, Mikko, what do you think of Terhi’s work?
Mikko: "Right on!!!"
Can one let go in design?
Terhi: "If you couldn't let go in design, I wouldn't be doing this work."
Mikko: "In design you can let go and sometimes it's the purpose of design to upset fossilized concepts."
What's your great dream in design, Mikko?
Mikko: "To be able to do it in the future and to really live from it."
What inspires you right now?
Terhi: "I quote Leo Burnett: "Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.""
Mikko: "Right now I'm inspired the coming Milan Fair and the exhibition at Design Forum. I am not inspired by doing my tax returns."
Terhi: "My dream for the future is to simply continue to work with great and inspiring people. What next… we'll see. I'd like to continue to design enjoyable spaces and products, perhaps even for schools, hospitals and old-age homes. I believe that design should affect all the moments of life and make them into the best possible times for all people. I am also enthusiastic in designing something other than tangible objects. Exploring further into service design is an interest of mine; in fact, I am presently working in this area."
Mikko: "I'll try to carry on in the same way and make more stuff for the world. I'll also try to get more clients with who it is good to work."
Will the work of designers change in the future?
Terhi: "Design is changing, the process and its value is increasingly becoming interdisciplinary and integrated more deeply with business strategies; this is progress."
Mikko: "I believe that the individual design that I represent does not change at the basic level. The things that must be noted will no doubt change, as they have done up to now. Even in the future people will need something to sit on and something from which to drink coffee."
(AV 27 March 2009)