Designer & illustrator Klaus Haapaniemi
Klaus Haapaniemi is a Finnish designer and illustrator. In 2010, he founded the Klaus Haapaniemi Co. together with Mia Wallenius. This artisanal design and lifestyle brand is influenced by nature, Finnish folklore and traditional decorative arts with a modern twist. The first Klaus Haapaniemi flagship store opened in London in 2013. Haapaniemi’s design experience includes many major brands in Finland and abroad.
Klaus, you’re a versatile designer. Tell more about your design.
We work, with our brand, in various fields of design and art with insatiable curiosity, but trying not to drift too far from our core themes. All our designs pour from imagined nature scenes, sometimes the stories get carried away and become more than just an object, they can be turned into fairytales, animations and performances.
You have worked with many renowned brands. Which of these collaborations has been close to your heart or especially memorable?
Our collaborations with Iittala has been fruitful, new parts and designs have been added to the range since Iittala’s Taika was first launched 10 years ago. We really enjoyed designing a collection for furniture brand Established & Sons because it allowed us to think how our fascination of telling stories can translate into furniture. The Cunning Little Vixen opera was an amazing project to work on, designing sets and costumes for the stage was something entirely new.
It’s said that your style is influenced e.g. by Finnish folklore and Kalevala. How does it show in your work?
We are not interested in Kalevala. On the contrary, we have created our own mythology which is based on Finnish nature.
You follow ethical principles in all of your production stages. Tell more about that.
Being kind to the environment and the others is important when designing more things to get into the world. Starting from designing and making products that last in time and are durable. Our production minimises all waste, every bit of fabric we print is used. We produce things that can be used for years, and hopefully people appreciate their timelessness. All our production is done in small factories that treat their team fairly.
What is Tenu Gin?
Tenu is a gin brand we have been working on for a couple of years now. Its unique taste has been created by chef Antto Melasniemi and we have worked together on it from the beginning. Tenu Gin is distilled in Eastern Finland in the Valamo monastery from pure forest ingredients.
You live in London. Is there something in Helsinki you miss especially?
We both, Mia and I miss the nature. It’s always a delight to get off the plane in Helsinki and breathe the fresh air, no matter if it’s snowing in May, we love the harsh surprises that northern nature gives us.
What are your favourite places when you come to Helsinki?
In winter Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall or Sauna Kotiharju, in summer the sauna in Lonna Island. There are also some great restaurants in Helsinki and we like long walks in winter dusk along the coast, on ice, and sometimes in cemetery.
Where in Helsinki your designs can be seen?
This autumn the opera The Cunning Little Vixen will be playing again at the National Opera. Some shops like Lokal and TRE Concept Store sell our collections, and the Iittala store of course.
We have heard that you have some connection to Putte’s Bar & Pizza in Helsinki?
The restaurant got its name from our cat Putte. He is also in the logo on the window, with a sparrow in his mouth which he caught from the opposite building’s facade, although he never kills any birds in reality. He is a very nice cat.