Born of tradition, fuelled by the future
TEXT: HANNA HEISKANEN | PHOTOS © KATJA LÖSÖNEN
K&H Annala Oy, the last fully Finnish interior textile manufacturer, embraces new innovations to create sustainable and timeless products for the everyday. Its latest collection takes on the vibrant mid-century designs of Marjatta Metsovaara.
In an age of planned obsolescence, a 100-year-old family business that continues to make durable yet beautiful products provides the perfect antidote. The guiding principle of Annala Oy, founded in 1917 by the banks of a western Finland rapids, has since the beginning been to produce high-quality textiles from naturally sourced materials. This only remaining Finnish interior textile manufacturer has recently teamed up with Metsovaara Oy for a collection of textiles based on the designs of Marjatta Metsovaara (1927-2014) to bring her timeless, beloved designs to 21st century furniture.
“Metsovaara had been looking for a Finnish manufacturer for their products. Both companies value high quality, natural raw materials and sustainability. We were a perfect fit,” says Hanna-Maria Kortesoja, CEO of K&H Annala Oy. Metsovaara’s original designs brim with colorful mid-century fun, which Annala has processed into durable wool-and-linen mix textiles that work equally well at home and in the public space. A more complex process than it sounds, the work involves transferring print designs into woven fabrics while ensuring that their vivid colour remains intact.
“Usability is everything if we want to be truly sustainable,” Kortesoja says. “Textiles for public spaces like waiting rooms and conference halls have very specific requirements we have to stick to.” The company is currently taking part in the innovative Future Bio-Arctic Design project, which aims to develop new nature-friendly plant-, tree- or berry-derived substances with protective properties to replace
synthetic, harmful and dangerous chemicals. “We want to look for solutions that reduce the impact our products have on the environment and the people who use them,” Kortesoja explains, “so that they will continue to stand the test of time even for the next 100 years.”
Another factor that connects Annala and Metsovaara is the desire to ensure the longevity of the legacy and traditions of Finnish design. Unless manufacturing is kept alive by staying true to its roots and also through creative innovation, the skills are lost. “I see our work as something that is passed on from one generation to another,” Kortesoja explains. “It’s the opposite of fast and expendable.”