Classics in the Making
Natural materials are dear to designer Anu Leinonen.
Her bath products have become Lapuan Kankurit classics.
When designer Anu Leinonen travels to her cabin to work, the surrounding nature immediately takes effect. "I can feel my energy changing here", Anu describes. "The surrounding nature centres my thoughts." Work days at the cabin begin with a morning swim and necessary breaks are taken as walks in nature. "Working here is peaceful and focused, so I often concentrate on planning and designing here", says Anu, who also uses birch bark in her crafts. The forest surrounding her cabin is not only a source of inspiration, but also a treasure chest of available materials to gather.
Anu has worked with Lapuan Kankurit for years, and is one of their house designers. "My cooperation with Lapuan Kankurit began as a set of coincidences", she says. Before, she had designed clothing for a French company in Paris and upon returning to Finland, decided she wanted to do something different. "I went swimming and really wanted to have a light-weight towel to throw on", Anu says. Such a towel did not exist, until she was introduced to Lapuan Kankurit and began designing bath textiles for them. "I had previously used a lot of linen and wool in my own collections", she says. "Working with Lapuan Kankurit is a natural progression to my previous work." Her work for Lapuan Kankurit has also been awarded: the KASTE pattern was given the MUOTO 2012 award. Anu's designs at Lapuan Kankurit are known for their aesthetically relaxed and soft shape. She often begins designing by exploring colours and trying the patterns out by hand. While many designers work on computers, Anu says that doing by hand comes to her more naturally. "That way, I can see what my idea would look like on an actual product", she says. Ideas will circulate in her mind for years before she actually begins working on them. Testing out yarns gives her the opportunity to see the stripes and surfaces concretely. When she has sketched her idea and made examples, Anu discusses their realisation with Lapuan Kankurit. "We dye the shades and test out weaves." Weaving the prototype often reveals what elements need to be rethought, and Anu says that this stage of work often comes with pleasant surprises. "When we encounter challenges, solving them leads to new discoveries. It's interesting to see the entire process of weaving linen fabrics."
Anu has also visited international trade fairs with Lapuan Kankurit. She says that the textiles' high quality and the company's vision have paid off, and have clearly been noticed internationally. "It gives me loads of positive energy to witness how high quality and ecological focus matter to people more each year", she says. Sustainable designs made from authentic natural materials are sought for.
Text Aino Hyyryläinen Photo Katja Lösönen