Young Designer of the Year 2019 Laura Väre

Laura Väre, you are the Young Designer of the Year 2019. Tell us about yourself and how did you become a designer!

I’m Laura Väre, a 30-year-old designer. I live in Harju in Helsinki with my spouse and our dog.

As a child, I went to an art school for 12 years; I loved to draw and dreamt of becoming an artist. I have always known that I want to work in a creative field. When I was 15, I decided to apply for metal artisan studies, as the then still unfamiliar material fascinated me. I have always been interested in learning something new and developing myself. After my artisan studies, I went to study furniture design at Lahti Institute of Design. This reinforced my professional interest in design, so I applied for the master’s degree studies at Aalto University. I graduated as a Master of Arts from Aalto University in spring 2019. During my studies I have further developed my competence through various work projects and by participating in competitions and presenting my products at international exhibitions.

Could you tell us something about your work?

I work as a furniture designer, which means that I design products for homes and public spaces. My work is varied and takes plenty of brainstorming. It includes designing the product and the possible preparation of mock-ups and the prototype. I don’t want to limit myself to a certain scale or material during the design process. Instead, I enjoy variation and the possibilities of different materials. My favourite material tends to change depending on what I’m currently working on.

My drafting method is fully dependant on the project and my feeling at the moment. Usually my drafts are more like notes, based on which I finish designing the model on the computer. However, sometimes I draft most of the product through drawing by hand or directly build a mock-up of the idea. This can help me find a new shape or idea for the product as I approach it from a different perspective. I created the Aava lamp, for example, with the help of a paper mock-up. I achieved the organic look of the lamp’s border by tearing the paper into the desired shape. This way, the end result looked as random and as vivid as possible. In the end, however, I always make a 3D model and technical drawings with a computer and send them to the company.

Tell us more about your cooperation with companies! What is the process of designing a new product like?

I start designing a new product by drafting it, either based on a commission or freely based on my own ideas. First, I produce many ideas and present them to the client. Then we will choose the best models for further processing. I work on the selected model so that its dimensions, materials and structure are all functional. When these details are in place, I compile the technical drawings that I’ll send to the company, and the prototype of the model will be produced after this.

Where do you draw your inspiration or ideas from?

I draw inspiration for my works from everyday things around me. It could be a shape, a light, a colour, an interesting material or a view, something that makes me feel. Sometimes, I start to design a product based on its purpose of use when I notice that something essential is missing. Making inspires creativity and inspiration can also be found during the project.

Do you have a role model for your work as a designer?

I don’t have an actual role model. Of course I admire all successful designers, but I also respect the work and approach of many less famous designers.

How would you define your design language or style?

My design language is very minimalistic, as simplifying comes naturally to me. I always try to find an insightful idea or an interesting shape. I often combine various materials, as I like the contrast between them and the different structural possibilities they offer. I want to design beautiful, functional and practical products that do not go out of fashion.

What do creative work and designing give to you?

Although I’m still quite a young designer and just starting my career, this work has given me so much and made me into the person I am now. Through design, I have received many different experiences and made many friends, discovered a continuous desire to develop myself and persistence, and I have learned to believe in my work. It has become a way of life that always stays with me.

What is the most important part of your work?

It is important to me that the companies I work with believe in my vision and that our partnership works well. It is also wonderful to be able to do work that I truly enjoy and where I can develop and realise myself.

When do you feel that you have succeeded?

I feel I’ve succeeded when I come up with an insightful idea for a product, making it more interesting. Of course, good feedback about a product will also make me feel like I have done well.

How do you believe a designer can influence the world today, for example with regards to the environment?

As a designer, I’m able to affect environmental matters by designing my products to be as ecological, durable and repairable as possible. My goal is a product with a long service life, as the longer it is in use, the smaller its carbon footprint will become. It is also important to find alternative materials and methods that can be offered to consumers.

What inspires you right now?

Right now, I’m inspired by this new stage in my life: I have finished my studies and can now focus solely on my work.

What is your biggest design dream?

I dream that I will be able to do this work for a long time and that I will come across many interesting work projects, both in Finland and abroad.

What next?

I’m currently preparing two exhibitions for Helsinki Design Week, for Lokal+ premises on Annankatu and Habitare’s The Block area. After those, I will focus on new projects and planning next year’s exhibition in Paris.

Portrait of Laura: Aleksi Tikkala