For Nikama Design founder Teemu Partanen, stainless steel is a passion – one might even say an obsession. Though he was told that hand-crafting certain pieces of jewelry from stainless steel would be impossible, Partanen was determined to bend the hardy material to his will.
“Nikama grew out of my own fascination with surgical stainless steel as a design material,” Partanen explains. “It’s a love-hate relationship: at first the steel is incredibly hard and unyielding. But when you manage to polish it to perfection, it will shine forever.”
Using Outokumpu stainless steel Supra 316L/4404 was also a natural choice. “Nikama’s story is all about local craftsmanship and quality design, so it’s important to me that we use high-class steel from a Finnish steelworks with great environmental credentials,” Partanen says.
An artisanal approach with industry methods
The first pieces of Nikama stainless steel jewelry, created back in 2009, were based on a human vertebra shaped design by Teemu Partanen’s then-wife Päivi. In fact the name “Nikama” comes from the Finnish word for vertebra.
“The intricate shape of Ranka actually would not be possible with any other material besides stainless: the thinnest parts would wear and break if they were made of silver or another weaker material,” Partanen explains.
In the early years, Partanen ground and polished his pieces mostly by hand “for hours and hours in my kitchen,” as he recalls. This dedication to craftsmanship has remained at the core of Nikama, though today the company also combines heavy industry methods with its local artisanal approach. For instance, the Ranka bracelets are first laser cut to shape based on a vector design, and molded and polished to perfection in Nikama’s own steel smithy in Oulu, Northern Finland.
Elegant, environmental, eternal
Nikama’s product range has grown to include dozens of different products from jewelry to everyday object like designer Eero Hyrkäs’ award-winning Jaur water pitcher. Each product has a unique story with designs inspired by humanity and elements of pure Nordic nature, such as the aurora borealis.
“Preserving our environment as pristine as possible is also a strong value for Nikama. I’m glad that Outokumpu stainless has a high level of recycled content. And of course our products are meant to last forever, from generation to generation,” Partanen says.
The material’s exceptional endurance also guides the design toward a timeless elegance. “Stainless steel allows for a stunning simplicity: clean shapes that are honed to a perfect shine and can stand the test of time. To me, nothing is more beautiful than that.”