Hanna Anonen won the Young Finnish Designer award in 2021 and no wonder since she has designed fun and colourful products for multiple Finnish brands. Anonen designed Mifuko's Kandili candle holder series which has five stackable models. We interviewed her about her design process and collaboration with Mifuko.
Designer Hanna Anonen is known for her playful and colourful products, which she has designed for several Finnish brands. In 2021, she won the Young Designer of the Year award from Design Forum Finland. Anonen describes the moment when she heard about the award: “It's a great honour and at the same time, of course, I was surprised. For a long time, I wondered if it was even true.”
Anonen states that over the past five years, she has had work opportunities from her partners and clients which have helped her develop as a professional and brought new design challenges. “When your prototype ends up in production for a company, it’s really rewarding. Then I feel that I’ve been able to develop a strong idea of my own, which has not been influenced by others in the design phase and have been able to solve structural challenges so that the idea has the potential to be a production piece. The Cocktail-light I designed is a good example of a product I designed that has ended up in production.”
Prior to her master's studies at Aalto University, Anonen graduated from the Lahti Institute of Design and Fine Arts as a wood artisan. Indeed, many of the products she has designed are made of wood. She describes her design process as follows: “Many times it is material-driven as the material affects the technical solutions of the manufacturing, which also affect the shape. But in my own projects, I often have the form in mind from which I proceed to the material and then solve the implementation method.”
For Mifuko, Anonen has designed a series of five candle holders, Kandili, which can be stacked together and used with both taper and tealight candles. “They work well together and separately. Kandili's natural material is soapstone, which gives character to the product. The round shapes combined with the solid aggregate raise questions about how these are made,” Anonen describes the Kandili series. As a material, soapstone was new for her. “I’m glad I was able to design a product made from this material for Mifuko. Soapstone is a beautiful material in itself, but it’s often dyed. I find its natural marbling with its colour variations beautiful. I’m glad that we decided to completely exclude the dyeing phase from the production of Kandili,” says Anonen.
The collaboration between Anonen and Mifuko's designers and founders Minna Impiö and Mari Martikainen started after they met through mutual friends. Working for a fair trade company also gave her new kind of insight into craftsmanship. “In a fair trade company, more emphasis is placed on the artisans and the importance of leveraging their skills, and how the work enables and supports them in their daily lives as well as helps to improve their communities. It's great to be part of that process.” Her personal experience working on different materials and methods was helpful in designing Kandili. “Because they are made by hand, it means that the product will be made using very traditional techniques. The form had to be clear and feasible for serial production. That's why I thought the products’ heart would be stackability, so everyone can make their own personal combinations and arrangements.”