Mikko Kärkkäinen

Järvenpää, Finland


As founder of Tunto Design, Finnish designer Mikko Kärkkäinen has made an art form of melding innovative technology with the natural beauty of wood, so I suppose you won’t be surprised to learn he cut his teeth as a carpenter—the experience in working with wood teaching him firsthand what can and can’t be done with the elemental material. His depth of knowledge of wood means he’s able to think outside the proverbial box when he’s designing—each final product containing a certain DNA that results from his unique point of view.

Tunto is the Finnish word for “feel” and it’s an apt descriptor where this company’s high quality products are concerned because the exquisite finishes its craftspeople achieve are delightful to the touch. Along with satiny smooth surfaces and innovation, the company is known for an ecological approach to their thinking, as each of their products are handmade with love in a workshop from the best wood available and the packaging of their products has an environmental perspective as well.

The most recognizable products Kärkkäinen has designed are his commanding LED table and floor lamps, which have won prestigious awards that include the red dot in 2009 and 2010, and the Good Design™ Award. One of the aspects that have made them so noteworthy is the hidden touch-sensitive switch that gives the user a true feel of the material without an interruption of the sleek design. In an interview, Kärkkäinen tells red dot his inspiration for the LED1 was “less is more” and a varied mix of cultural themes. He adds, “The influence of music, pop art and various modern lifestyles connected with traditional woodworking methods and special technology, like the hidden touch, makes this lamp unique. It could not have been born anywhere else or at any other time than in today’s Finland.”

What inspires him? “Finnish nature, forests and wood itself inspire me, as well as the great giants of design like Alvar Aalto, Tapio Wirkkala and Andy Warhol. I feel strongly that Tunto products should have novelty value and a connection to the present day. The visual and technical production methods speak of my own cultural background and lifestyle….”