While it's true that fashion will always gravitate towards the future, Finland's jewellery designers also enjoy a strong connection with the history of their craft. Set up over 100 years ago, Taito comprises 20 Finnish craft organisations and is still relevant today, organising courses, workshops and exhibitions and promoting the country's wide range of makes, including jewellers.
PauliinaK: natural style
PauliinaK is one example of a jewellery designer who melds the old and the new. Part of the Lumoava collective of contemporary Finnish jewellery makers, her pieces provide a fresh take on traditional motifs and shapes. Her work references historical design elements and contrasts them with softer, more feminine styles. Her Power collection features brushed-silver cross pendants in a subtle medieval style, which hang from square link chains while her Dewdrop necklace combines a soft, sensual cone with a transparent sphere that mimics the glistening dew on morning grass.
The designer has also referenced the distinctive silhouette of the nightingale and included it on necklaces and earrings. ‘The Nightingale pendant represents the other end of my style. It’s a much braver and more expressive piece of jewellery,’ says PauliinaK. She explains that ‘traditional goldsmith crafting is present in my work more and more each day,’ evident in her showpiece, an intricately carved silver birdcage pendant.
Chao & Eero: the storytellers
For partners Chao-Hsien Kuo and Eero Hintsanen, it’s all about ‘jewellery that tells stories around us’ and this is felt in their anecdotal approach to design, where subtle observations from nature are re-envisaged as modern, elegant pieces. ‘We have a strong background in craft and insist on high-quality.
As we are both designers as well as goldsmiths, we can carry out the design the way we want to and, living in Finland, we enjoy and appreciate the nature around us,’ says Kuo. As a result, their label Chao & Eero features clean and modern earrings and necklaces and an enchanting mix of motifs, some influenced by Hintsanen’s memories of being in the forest as a child: there are leaves, flowers and dewdrops along with wild berries and hearts, all set in distinctive matt-finished yellow gold or sterling silver.
Lapponia: architectural masters
Lapponia has been creating jewellery since the 1960s and among its designs are a necklace seen on Princess Leia in the original Star Wars film and a ring worn by Yoko Ono in the 1970s. The latter was the work of Björn Weckström: a pioneering creative, he specialises in sculptural designs – ‘If I am making jewellery, I am making sculptures’ – and was the first jewellery maker to showcase the dual use of silver and acrylic. He still designs for Lapponia and a recent collection references the Finnish landscape, with delicate gold and pearl necklaces depicting tundra flowers and textured pendants inspired by Lapland.
Given that fashion regularly changes pace, one wonders how easy it is for Finnish jewellery designers to reconcile their drive for modernity with the country’s craft history. ‘The design process itself is a combination of traditional handicraft and modern technology,’ says PauliinaK. ‘Technology and techniques go forward at lightening speed in our industry and designers just have to keep up.’ Finland’s craft legacy is clearly evident, but it is also a driving force, keeping its designers at their very best.