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10 to Watch: Ville Kokkonen


Design Director


In what was perceived as something of a departure from its offerings of highly expressive lighting products, Finnish design company Artek—perhaps best known for its iconic furnishings by renowned designer Alvar Aalto—created a stir last year with the launch of the WHITE collection at the 2011 Milan International Furniture Fair and Lighting Exhibition.

Unlike the many lighting fixtures on the market that scream for your attention, WHITE almost fades into the background, allowing the light itself to be the focal point. What’s more, the line’s Bright Light 1 desk lamp is light-therapy certified to address seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This intimate connection between people and products is central—if not unavoidable—to Ville Kokkonen, Artek’s design director.

“We live and interact with objects everyday regardless if we want to or not,” he says. “Some work better than others—with some we bond emotionally and others even communicate knowledge. And these various different functions or consequences are challenging to envision … so the values products carry or generate differ substantially.”

“I believe that at its best, a cherished human-object interaction might extend the product’s lifetime, cultivate our understanding and curiosity, and make us live our lives more gracefully.”

Kokkonen says he is particularly interested in the link between our physical and mental well-being and productivity, which has led him to undertake several research projects to identify the underlying issues of problem areas, such as SAD. A tall order, perhaps, but Kokkonen is clearly up for the task.

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10 Patrick McEneany
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