Designing the good life
Text & Photo Katja Lösönen
ELINA HELENIUS, nominated as Finnish Textile Artist of the Year 2012, has won several design competition awards, and her textiles are on display at Helsinki Design Museum, Röhsska Museum in Gothenburg, and the Kyoto Textile Research Center. She also gives lectures at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, and Metropolia University of Applied Sciences.
The Lapuan Kankurit design team is having a meeting. It's a lively event; the table of the conference room is covered in colour, material, and fabric samples. There are notes spread all over. The designers are presenting the latest changes to new models, and some of the classic products are remade in autumnal hues. Textile artist Elina Helenius selects the final product nuances together with owners Jaana and Esko Hjelt. Textile artist Elina Helenius is an experienced professional in the textile trade. She has been a member of the Lapuan Kankurit product development team since 2018. According to Helenius, the collaboration with Lapuan Kankurit has run smoothly since the very beginning. “My world of thought and values was a perfect match with theirs.We are guided by common sense and intuition in a similar way.” The product development of Lapuan Kankurit is driven by a strong will to move forward and create even more beautiful, functional, and durable products.
“The customer is central to product development. The products are woven into their homes and lives. My own strengths as a designer are in particular texture and colour design, which I have put to good use here at Lapuan Kankurit,” Helenius says. “I’m glad that I can say what I really think to our design team. I think this is the best way to develop the operations. It’s important to listen to each other, and to bravely bring forward differences of opinion.” Apart from design competence, to Helenius design management also litterally means managing and controlling the overall concept. “Above all else, design management means managing the entire design process systematically. Creativity is important, but in practice you also need flexibility and good problem-solving skills.” Esko Hjelt confirms that in industrial production, design management is so much more than artistic work or actual product design.
“Elina’s strength is her understanding of industrial production,” Hjelt says. “In industrial-scale product development, it’s important to also understand the importance of processes. Creativity is not just being artistic, but also the ability to be flexible, to negotiate, and see the product from the production point of view.” In her work, Elina also guides and instructs young designers on the laws of industrial production. “It’s important to me that the knowhow is passed on to future designer generations. I imagine the product development from the perspective of Lapuan Kankurit, and aim at solutions that are useful to them. I channel my own ambition into their victories,” Helenius says with a smile.
The design concept of Lapuan Kankurit is guided by overall sustainability as well as the longevity of the collections. “Our collections are designed to maximize the lifespan of the products. All new models are designed to match the materials used and to harmonize with the rest of the collection,” Helenius says. “This way we ensure that the product is sustainable down to every last detail.”