POIAT - Architects and furniture designers
Hi Antti and Timo!
Thank you for taking the time to talk to us about your company POIAT.
Could you tell a little bit about how POIAT started and where you are now?
Hello! Our story began in the early 2000s when we met in TaiK (nowadays Aalto University), studying spatial and furniture design. We started doing spatial design projects together and noticed that we work very well jointly, which gave us the idea of maybe wanting to create our own company one day.
After graduating, the connections that we had made in university helped us receive our first "real" spatial projects: (the now former) Johto cafe and Gallery clothing store in the Kamppi shopping center.
After a few years of working and doing projects independently, we decided to start our own company, Poiat Studio. We were first focusing solely on interior architecture projects, but then the idea of creating our own furniture collection became an ambition as well, especially to Timo, who was using a lot of his free time on furniture design.
The first product family, Lavitta, was launched in 2013 at the Habitare fair. In 2014, Poiat became a family business when Timo's wife Jenni and Antti's brother Jussi joined the company and took the responsibility of marketing and selling the furniture collection.
Today, Poiat operates in the fields of furniture and spatial design - the interior architecture side is lead by Antti and Timo is in charge of the product and furniture design. In addition, we also design furniture concepts for other companies.
We feel that we are today in a place where we can both do what we love. With a team around us to help with different concepts, we can focus more on the creative process. Another meaningful thing is our new space and showroom in Ullanlinna, which we are currently renovating and decorating.
What is normally the starting point of your design process?
Antti: For me, memories and mental images give the base for my vision, the core of the added value that we provide our clients. A significant factor in the design process is the importance of listening to the client's wishes and understanding their everyday life. Likewise, we also want to honor the building's history, context, and background for our spatial design projects. Our team's importance is tremendous - I feel that I give the initial spark and idea to the design process, but the result is a united vision of our team.
Timo: I feel that intuition is the foundation of everything. The interest in the production process and materials that are involved with it. After that, we create some ground-rules surrounding the process. We go through different experiments with the design process, which usually gives us a surprise factor to the end product.
What has shaped most your design philosophy and aesthetics?
T: One of the things that have shaped my design philosophy is the BBC documentary series The Code, which investigates nature - its efficiency and growth, mathematics. That process is very thought-provoking. I feel inspired by the fact that if nature can be so versatile and efficient, we can try to mimic that way in our design process. We want to create furniture that fits into private and public spaces and follows our humane space philosophy. Aesthetics, on the other hand, are born in the process. For Antti and me, the idea of a similar vision and style that we agree on is essential. Another aspect is the factor of being broad-minded - if you are not willing to be broad-minded, your eyes are shut.
A: What has affected my design philosophy the most is how I experience different objects and spaces. For our spatial designs, I feel that every good spatial plan holds something from the past, present, and future. What comes to aesthetics, I think that what I've seen and experienced when for example traveling in Central Europe has shaped my aesthetics.
What inspires you now?
T: The opportunity of being able to do what I want the most, that being the creative work that we do.
A: Nordic Classicism. I have realized its greatness and richness, and that style's "tolerance." I feel that you can experience that era in the Töölö neighborhood in Helsinki.
T: Yes, Finnish Classicism was an exciting period, a transitional phase.
How important materials are for you, and the origin of them?
T: Very important! We feel that materials are centric in both spatial- and furniture design. For example, all of the wood that we use for our furniture has an FSC certificate in them. Quality and authenticity are key factors in my design work.
A: What is more critical in materials is the feel, not primarily the looks. That is what gives you the feeling of whether the material is high quality or not. The origin of materials can be a complicated matter because the material's origin does not necessarily mean it is the most ecological option. For me, the production process and its sustainability are what counts. When choosing fixtures for spatial work, we try to use Finnish manufacturers, but unfortunately, there are not too many out there.
How do you see sustainability and environmental impact in your design process?
T: Our objective is that the choices we make in design work have an as little environmental impact as possible. The information that we gather on sustainability becomes more important day by day in our design process. When designing furniture, I try to think about how I can justify the furniture's existence, how is it better than a similar product that already exists?
We hope that our products give their owners lifelong joy and that the product could continue its lifecycle as long as it can. We do not design products out of the pressure of a particular market cycle but out of the product having a clear position in our design portfolio. Our furniture collection is produced within 300 kilometers from Helsinki: in Tartu, Estonia, and different parts of Southern Finland. When producing in those locations, it helps us to control our environmental impact that comes from transportation. In addition, it gives us great joy to have products manufactured by the local furniture makers here in Finland and Estonia.
A: With the spatial design, we do not follow trends; we follow the ideology of a timeless style that looks good through the decades. The spaces that we design need to have a justified relationship to the architectural milieu it is in. Another important factor is the growing use of waste materials, such as waste marble.
I like the concept of Belgian minimalism with its tactile surfaces. A home can be built with few elements but still have a rich atmosphere. When making a decision to purchase something, I want my choices to be considered and justified. When a purchase is being thought through, it gives joy. For me, an impulse buy does not. A product needs to have functionality, of course, but also beauty. The aesthetics of the product is what creates an emotional attachment for me.
T: For us, the emotional attachment for spaces and furniture is significant, the stability of it. Also, the factor of being able to be creative with a good friend like Antti is what is ultimately rewarding.
Words by Henrietta Hyttinen
Product photography by Arsi Ikäheimonen
Portrait photography by Robert Lindström