12 Oct '15

Klaus Haapaniemi’s Inspiration


Klaus Haapaniemi’s colourful designs, featuring fantasy illustrations of nature, woodland animals and creatures, can be found in most Finnish homes. His work is most easily recognised by the Taika dinnerware series by Iittala and is heavily influenced by Finnish folklore. Each beautifully embroidered cushion, silk scarf, woven throw and woollen rugs, produced with his partner Mia, tell their own imaginative story.

We visited his flagship store in London at the launch of his new autumn/winter Christmas collection to find out what he loves most about London and where he gets his inspiration from.

Tell us about the new collection and the inspiration behind it?

The new products feature two silk scarves, two linen embroidered cushions, a velvet cushion and two printed linen cushions plus for the first time, three laminated trays featuring intricate patterns featuring horses, birds and pine cones.

When I designed this new range, I was also working with the Finnish National Opera and the beautiful symphonies inspired two of my new characters – the Firebird and Black Swan. The Firebird is a magical creature that appears in Ballet Russe’s The Firebird. It has good and evil powers, hence the contrasting colours of black and burnt orange that I’ve used in these large wrap-around silk scarves.

The Black Swan was inspired by the story of The Swan of Tuonela, from Sibelius’ Finlandia symphony and the dark and mysterious imagery and colours work really well on this thick velvet cushion.

The musical influence is quite unusual for me because I don’t usually listen to music when I’m creating. I prefer complete silence. I like to start with a blank sheet of paper so that my imagination can wander and be free with no distractions and I’m at my most creative in the evening.

The Heather Cock cushion is another new character. He’s a handsome yet predatory bird inspired by those that you find in the forests of Finland.

Putte the Cat has appeared on my previous designs and his character is inspired by my beautiful black cat, Putte. He’s twelve years old and we’ve had him since we lived in Italy. He has a lovely sociable personality and likes to be with people. But he’s a little unusual too because he likes olives and parmesan cheese. He inspires me because I look at him and can create stories in my mind about the adventures that he has in our neighbourhood and so I’ve created these two embroidered cushions in contrasting colours, one where he is red and green, the other he is black and blue. One cat, but two different stories.


What do you like about London?

I moved to London in 2004 and adore this city. I love the energy and diversity of it. And it’s perfectly positioned so that within an hour, you can easily travel to the seaside or countryside.

I live near Victoria Park in East London and I like this area very much because it is green and peaceful. Sometimes it doesn’t quite feel like I’m really living in London because I’m so close to the nature and wildlife of the park.

One day, I’d love to live near to Hampstead Heath – it feels like a forest perched above the city, with steep hills, a rich undergrowth of trees and is home to lots of creatures and wildlife.

Another region that I like is Mayfair. I know that it’s quite fashionable but despite having so many shops and labels, it also has a friendly residential feel that appeals to me.

Do you miss Finland?

I find Finland too cold, so am not often there unless I am in the middle of a work project. The climate in England is more my taste and I like the British summer because warm, not too hot and quite mild.

What’s your opinion of Nordic Bakery’s design ethos?

The design is very unique. It reminds me more of Finland rather than Scandinavia. I love the dark colours and calming influence and often visit Nordic Bakery on Golden Square.  The most striking piece is the beautiful wall hanging – very striking. 

What are you working on now?

I’m working with some Japanese clients and am collaborating with Moooi and some fashion design labels.  We share a very similar appreciation of aesthetic of design, attention to detail, playfulness and storytelling.

Your new collection is perfect for Christmas gifts. How do you spend Christmas?

I’m not really a Christmas person. The thought of spending three days in the same house, visiting people doesn’t really appeal to me. It would feel too tight and too restrictive for me.

I will stay in London and enjoy the mild winter and the beautiful nature and wildlife near to my home.



Klaus Haapaniemi
81 Redchurch Street, E2 7DJ, London