Cabinetmaker Kari Virtanen receives the Kaj Franck Design Prize 2022.
Kari Virtanen founded his own one-man workshop Nikari as early as 1967. Along the years, the company evolved into a design furniture brand. Since the beginning, the emphasis of Virtanen and Nikari’s work has been in combining traditional carpentry and design. Several domestic and international designers have designed furniture for Nikari. Kari Virtanen’s work has received widespread recognition and exposure over the years.
The prize jury wanted to use the prize to highlight Kari Virtanen’s persistent long-term work and values, on which he has based his career on through the decades. Virtanen and Nikari have produced classic Finnish design that uses wood as its premise and doesn’t aim for novelty as an intrinsic value. Instead, it is based on permanence while still reinterpreting tradition. Under the last decade, the company has started operating internationally, building networks and having foreign designers to enrich own collections. This has created new opportunities for companies that use design competence. Kari Virtanen’s work as a mentor of new designer and carpenter generations is also important.
Kari Virtanen and Nikari have been ahead of their time in sustainable design and business. In the ever-changing world, Nikari has managed to maintain its originality and its core values, and its object world is as topical today as before, perhaps even more so. Cultural sustainability is at the core of sustainable development. Continuity and the preservation of high-quality arts and crafts tradition are valuable.
The members of the prize jury in 2022 were Design Forum Finland’s board member Annika Jyllilä-Vertigans, CEO / Vieser Oy (Chairperson of the Jury), Project Director Kaarina Gould / ADmuseo, Head of Brands and Spaces Aleksi Kuokka / Aivan, Professor Yrjö Sotamaa, and interior architect Vertti Kivi / dSign Vertti Kivi
Kaj Franck Design Prize exhibition is a part of Design Forum Finland Awards exhibition which was on show at Glasshouse Helsinki 5–28 May 2022.
Press images are available here.