On the threshold of summer 2016, furniture design students at Lahti University of Applied Sciences (LAMK) received a stack of thin birch plywood of different thicknesses. Along with the stack came an assignment from Koskisen’s Birch Products Industry: to give the wood new life as a piece of furniture, a lampshade or some other interior decoration element. As the end of 2016 nears, many interesting prototypes have been created by the design students.
During the mid-term review in November, the students were given the opportunity to present the results of their efforts. Harri Kalliomäki, the professor in charge of Furniture Design at the university, says the school’s laser cutter has been in heavy use during the project.
“This project has been interesting and different from our traditional business collaboration projects – in an uplifting way. Usually when companies give us a design assignment they set precise specifications regarding its objectives and contents, but this project was interesting and inspiring due to its broad mandate. In planning their designs, the students were limited only by the material itself. It can be inspiring to first analyse the characteristics of a material and then begin designing the actual products. The products in this project have not been designed for an existing company, but hopefully the students’ fine work will one day end up being manufactured and sold,” says Kalliomäki.
Koskisen Business Manager Heikki Kiesilä has been closely involved in the project since the start. He has been advising and guiding the students, for example, in how to choose a functional material and surface treatment.
“It is important for us to collaborate with students in the field; it gives us an open-minded and new perspective on how wood can be used,” says Kiesilä.
All of the students consider thin birch plywood to be easy to mould. After all, it is pliable like paper. Each piece of work nicely showcases this pliability.
“The stool was made with rectangular strips of thin plywood that were bent into shape. I got the idea for it from the woven structure of a basket. This idea could lend itself to an entire product family.”
“My goal was to make maximum use of the material. The dimensions of the lampshade have required some tweaking. KoskiFlex made these shapes possible because it is a very pliable material.”
“The starting point was the organic form the material enables. The concept for the floor lamp is simple: a single sheet of birch plywood bent into shape and held in place with a strip of leather, and a leg made of a bamboo type of material. The lampshade casts light in an interesting way.”
“In this project, the age-old cradle finds a modern new form. The frame for both the cradle and table was made from two identical pieces bent to the same shape. The products can be used in two ways.”
“I began drafting my project by drawing different options, and the sheet of thin plywood curved naturally into this form. By turning the angle of the shades, the light falls in the desired direction."
“The storage theme has interested me for a long time, and both the notice board and the coat rack are handy for storing items. For the coat rack, I combined traditional hook pegs with a new kind of storage space.”
“The thin plywood rucksack was dimensioned to fit a 13” laptop, and one side of the interior is compartmentalised to make it easier to arrange the items inside. The curved shape of both the rucksack and the purse were inspired by the flexibility of the material.”