Harakka island is a place of culture and nature just offshore Kaivopuisto in southern Helsinki. A former chemical laboratory, the main building of the island has been colonised since 1988 by artists and artisans who have occupied studio spaces with a myriad of different practices and creative processes. Our designer Aoi Yoshizawa is one of the artists animating this beautiful corner of Helsinki with her work.
Artists reach Harakka by rowing their own boats year-round, and even walk over the ice when it is safe enough during wintertime. “You can really feel the nature while commuting to and working in Harakka. The weather can often be very harsh out on the sea. When it is very windy and rainy, we just get wet.” Working on this island makes Aoi feel one with nature.
Although a native of Tokyo, Japan, Aoi has grown to love Finnish nature: “It is important to observe nature – to find beautiful colour compositions and textures.” The new design SAARI is inspired by horizon views she observes from the island: “My favourite place in Harakka is the seashore where you can see the long horizon towards the south. I just love to stare at the horizon, exploring the texture of the waves and feeling the fresh air. Being outside on the island is the best way of looking for ideas for design and artworks.” She finds the Finnish seascape very dreamlike and fascinating.
Her design SADE is inspired by fresh air and the scents that appear after a rainstorm. “After the rain, the smell of the soil, grass and wood becomes more intense. It feels very fresh, and I felt an urge to express that moment on textiles.” she explains. From her initial watercolour-painted design, Lapuan Kankurit produces the woven towels. “I appreciate Lapuan Kankurit’s deep knowledge in weaving. They can create very complex effects of my watercolour design with detailed woven structures.” Being a passionate and experienced weaver, Aoi’s understating of textile techniques is also important in turning the initial artistic inspiration into a textile design.
Besides the wilderness on the island, Aoi enjoys the artists’ community. “It is always refreshing to talk to my colleagues at the artist house, who work in different fields.” The collective creativity also drives her artistic practice, as she often collaborates with other artists.
Text Aoi Yoshizawa Photo Lotta Djupsund