Nikari – World Class Sustainable Design

Nikari is a small Finnish cabinet maker that produces beautiful long-lasting furniture from wood and leather, etc – and they really are sustainable – it is not just lip-service…

They are located here in Finland, in a small village valley called Fiskers Village… Their workshop is above a small river that is dammed with a small hydro electric plant under their building that produces all the power they use. They have taken sustainability to a new level – one that is almost biblically idealistic in character – a disciplined production workshop that knows where it is going…

…. yes, Fiskers is the name of the old Finnish company (founded 1649) that makes scissors with that orange handle. They were established in this part of south west Finland as an iron miner, smelter and forge – now they have developed and diversified – they make axes, leaf rakes to stop forest fires (à la Trump!), cutters and knives, porcelain – the stuff your mother likes… Iittala, Royal Copenhagen, Waterford and Wedgwood. They have a  long history in the Raseborg area, 100 km west of Helsingfors. They have been really successful and now generously support small workshops and artisans like Nikari, with theirs Fiskers Village development – a great and attractive spot for visitors.

… but the old forge area is now home to the Fiskers Village where Nikari have their workshop. 

Nikari were was founded in 1967 in Seinäjoki, (in another part of Finland) next to Nikkarinkoski river. The company name is a play with the Finnish word “nikkari”, meaning a cabinet maker, the name of the area Nikkarinkoski (meaning “the river stream of the cabinet maker”) and the founder’s own name, Kari Virtanen – look for his first name in the name of the company…

Kari (photo above with  CEO Johanna Vuorio, Creative Director Jenni Roininen) is still there after starting out at the beginning with Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), the architect, and Kaj Franck (1911-1989) the “conscience of Finnish design” and a professor at the Helsinki School of Art and Design. Now, decades later, the list of designers is long and impressive… take a look here

Today Nikari employs some 15 skilled cabinet makers and a few office workers with young apprentices from top schools like Malmstens Linköping University in Stockholm. They are all working in Fiskers Village producing world class furniture to order. As you can see, well-known visitors also come from Japan to admire their skills and fine furniture designs.

Sustainability is their guiding star – the wood, design, glue, wax, paint, waste cuttings, energy, deliveries, and biodiversity are all carefully thought about and implemented. They actually do what IKEA does not do, and what most thinking people dream about when they think about saving the planet – take a look here 

That table, chair, or bench will last for many generations and will still be looking good in 100 years time.

The company is small and exports 40% of its products to some any countries through exclusive sales offices around the world. In may ways they are a typical Finnish SME – they have kept high standards and demanding quality for all of their products and processes. They may not be giants in terms go volume but they are giants in terms of design and quality.

Photos: Nikari

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