Samu Franzen PhotographyIt was a beautiful summer day sometime in the late 1990s. Silversmith Pekka Piekäinen was laying on the front lawn of his summer house, when suddenly the thought struck like a lightning. “A vase with no bottom!” And so the idea for the Finlandia vase was born.
The vase indeed has a unique design: the bottom is an almost razor-thin S-shape, with the sides expanding out to create a clean, wave-like shape. Like many of Piekäinen’s designs, the shape was inspired by nature and has a distinctly modern, minimalist quality.
In 2017, in celebration of Finland’s 100th year of independence, a special new edition of Piekäinen’s original silvery vase is being made – this time out of Outokumpu stainless steel. The grade used is Core 304/4301 with bright annealed surface finish BA/2R.
100% Finnish for Finland 100
In fact, the stainless steel Finlandia vase has been a long-time in the making, says Anna-Kaisa Laakso, who co-founded jewelry and design brand PlatinOro with the late Piekäinen back in the 1990s. “We originally wanted to create a stainless steel version of the vase, but at the time, we could not find anyone who would be able to produce it: the shape of Finlandia is quite demanding to forge out of such a hard material,” she explains.
Recently, however, Laakso discovered Finnish steel smithy Nikama Design, which specializes in stainless steel design objects and was up to the task. “It turned out to be a perfect fit,” says Laakso. “We were able to create a 100% Finnish designer product: it’s made from locally-produced stainless steel from Outokumpu’s mill in Tornio, and hand-crafted by a Finnish steel smith.” The vase was chosen to be part of an official selection of all-Finnish products celebrating the centenary called “100 goods from Finland”.
Durable design for the ages
Though crafting the Finlandia design from stainless steel was not an easy feat, there are also clear benefits to using stainless as the material, says Laakso. “On top of being a local material, it also allowed us to create a more affordable – and highly durable – counterpart to the silver vase,” she says. “It’s a timeless piece of art suitable for a broader audience: beautiful and modern, but still practical and easy to keep clean.”
The solid environmental credentials of Outokumpu stainless are also a fit with Piekäinen’s design philosophy. “Piekäinen was a lover of nature, and often found his inspiration from Finnish nature, so environmental values are very important for us. I believe he would be very happy to see his design being crafted out of Finnish stainless steel,” Laakso says.