Skip to content
Habitare Protos designers aim to create objects that become meaningful to their owners

Habitare Protos designers aim to create objects that become meaningful to their owners

Habitare Protos 2024 offers a fascinating view of the product ideas and thoughts of young designers. Interest in materials, and questions of meaningfulness and sustainability, can be seen in the background of the prototypes presented in the exhibition. Young designers want to create objects that challenge traditional standards of beauty and become important to their owners. Habitare will be held at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre from 11 to 15 September 2024.

Here they are, the young designers of the Habitare Protos 2024 group exhibition: Aini Alastalo, Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä and Hanna Säll, Laura Johansson, Hanna Klie, Shunsuke Koya, Anusuya Krishnaswamy, Atso Kurri, Reeta Laine, Fanni Laukkanen, Anni Pitkäjärvi, and Sanni Rajapolvi.

Habitare Protos, seen in The Block area of Habitare (previously: Habitare Protoshop), is a platform for new design where young designers can test the appeal of their product ideas to potential manufacturers and future buyers. Protos aims to discover and highlight great product ideas and help emerging designers and manufacturers find each other.

"The designers selected for Habitare Protos share an interest in materials and their processing through the creative process, allowing the material to guide towards the end result. They aim to design objects that become important and meaningful to their users, thereby addressing the challenges of sustainable development," say the exhibition curators Elina Aalto and Saara Renvall of Imu Design.

The selected objects in the exhibition appealed to the jury with their individual character. They bring something new and inspiring to our world of objects.

Imu Design has been responsible for curating and producing the exhibition seen at Habitare since 2009. This year's jury also included Habitare's Creative Lead Päivi Helander and, as a rotating member, designer Rasmus Palmgren, who was seen in the Habitare Talentshop exhibition in 2019.

Habitare Protos 2024 I product ideas and designers:


From a single tree is a series of handcrafted seats, each been made from a specific tree. Guided by an intuitive approach, the wood was worked according to its individual properties and features. The character-like visual appearance of the seats invites you to touch them and sit down to be supported by them.

Aini Alastalo is a designer from North Karelia, and her work is based on exploring different materials. She finds motivation for creating in the natural and individual properties of materials, which she aims to emphasise in her work. Spontaneity and making room for chance and unexpected results are important part of her creative process.


TROPHIES OF FAILURE I Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä and Hanna Säll

We all experience failures in our lives, so why not allow for them in our design practice? By using different glass-blowing techniques we set out to craft pieces that embrace imperfection and failure and celebrate unconventional aesthetics. Challenging traditional standards of beauty, these pieces still radiate an uplifting sense of grandeur. Allow us to introduce you to Trophies of Failure. 

Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä (aka hk) is a Finnish designer with a background in architecture and design. Currently, she runs her own studio, Studio Finna, and teaching at Aalto University. Hanna Säll is a Swedish industrial designer studying for her master’s degree in Collaborative & Industrial Design, with a minor in Creative Sustainability, at Aalto University. In addition to their names, these two designers share an interest in materials, experimental design, and storytelling through tangible objects. I @hannaformsall

OX I Laura Johansson

OX is a versatile wall hanger and storage unit. It is a spatial element with a strong visual identity. offering simultaneously many ways of hanging and storing. When empty, it does not reveal its function at first glance, but brings identity and character to a space both with and without stored items.

Laura Johansson is currently completing a master's degree in interior architecture at Aalto University. In her designs, she aims to create elements of surprise within simple forms while maintaining functionality. Laura places emphasis on the relationship between her furniture pieces and people, also considering the dialogue between furniture and the spaces they inhabit.


SENSEAT I Hanna Larissa Klie

Senseat is a proposal for a chair that promotes well-being and health in everyday life, supporting the connection with the inner self through a multisensory approach. In our fast-paced world, where external distractions often take precedence, the Senseat was created as an expression of personal well-being. It features a hand-tufted rug made from natural wool, incorporating different textures and a subtle fragrance to create an object that appeals to more than just the eye. The design includes a supporting steel frame, intentionally minimal to keep the focus on the rug, acting as a silent hero behind the scenes. The Senseat invites you to touch, feel, smell it, and even hide in its embrace, offering a sanctuary for the senses.

Hanna Larissa Klie’s furniture design weaves together intuition and practicality, crafting pieces that are more than functional art. They're like invitations to experience emotion and presence. Her work prioritizes the creative journey, where intuition leads to unexpected beauty. For Hanna, it's essential that her designs do more than fill a space—they must touch those who interact with them, whether through visual delight, functional support, or evoking emotions that ground us in the present moment. She aims for her creations to be a bridge, helping users reconnect with their inner selves by providing a momentary anchor to the 'now'.


LÄHDE I Shunsuke Koya

The experience of audio used to be strongly connected to visuals and fashion. Vinyl records with their beautiful covers felt like pieces of art. The movement of the turntable was a visual link to the source of the sound. Lähde is a cast-concrete loudspeaker which plays tribute to the visual appearance of the turntable. It is a contemporary interior element with a nod to its roots.

Shunsuke Koya is a Japanese architect based in Helsinki. He was educated at Aalto University and is now a member of SAFA. The appreciation of material properties is the prominent philosophy lying at the core of his practice. He listens to the materials he uses and lets them form architecture or products, minimising material consumption and giving them a timeless quality. I @shunsukekoya

VANTAGE SHIFT I Anusuya Krishnaswamy

Vantage Shift is a multipurpose interior textile inspired by the hand towels and dishcloths that line our kitchen counters. Working with twill variations, the diagonal lines switch directions in the different colour areas, creating a sense of distorted movement. The wool and recycled cotton yarns, in combination with a gentle felting, result in a distinct yet warm and fuzzy surface tactility.

Anusuya Krishnaswamy is a designer and recent graduate of Aalto University. She sees her design process as a constant dialogue with the material at hand. Everyday life forms the crux of her practice, and drawing from mundane experiences with textiles and tactility, she hopes to create objects that draw attention to the details buried in the daily routine.


OLAVI.2 I Atso Kurri

Olavi.2 is a solid wood chair which utilises the good bending properties of ash. The chair’s visual appearance is inspired by Japanese design and it plays with unusual proportions. The result is a simple but original wooden chair.

Atso Kurri’s path to becoming a designer began with carpentry studies after which he graduated as an interior architect and furniture designer from XAMK, Southeastern Finland University of Applied Sciences, in 2022. His aim is to create sustainable and aesthetically interesting designs. I @atsokurri

ELEMENT I Reeta Laine

The design goal was to create a chair that could be dismantled and shipped in a flat-pack package. True to its name, the chair is assembled from different elements with screws which are left visible. The chair’s eye catcher is its perforated sides, made from birch plywood by CNC. In addition to being a visual element, the perforated surface lightens the structure and balances out the weight of the heavy solid wood backrest and seat.

Reeta Laine is a designer whose work focuses on the balance between function and aesthetics. She wants to design products that become meaningful to their owners. She believes that this relationship affects the way we take care of and hold onto objects. Her works range from furniture to smaller objects that typically have a strong visual identity paired with optimal functionality. I @reetalaine

FOLDI I Fanni Laukkanen

Foldi, a sculptural lamp, draws its inspiration from the elegant simplicity of the triangle. The design is created by the interplay between two interlocking tetrahedrons folded into shape like origami from a single metal sheet. The play of light is choreographed through a triangular aperture formed by identical shapes, casting an indirect glow and combining form and function. Foldi’s versatility extends to various sizes, allowing adaptation to diverse spaces and preferences.

Fanni Laukkanen is an interior architect who recently completed her studies at Aalto University. In her work, she aims to discover a novel approach to everyday shapes and ideas. Her commitment to sustainable design is reflected in the creation of lasting pieces that emphasize functionality and a clean design language.


FLOW I Anni Pitkäjärvi

Flow is a coat rack inspired by the flowing lines of postmodernism and a dash of playfulness. Coats and other accessories can be hung in various ways according to the user’s needs. Two different models exist: the high version is visually striking and the low one is more modest, making it suitable for many different kinds of interiors in both homes and public spaces.

Anni Pitkäjärvi holds an MA in furniture and spatial design from Aalto University. She currently works at her own Studio Finna together with Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä. Anni has previously taken part in both Habitare Protoshop and Talentshop, from where her designs have been picked up by both Finnish and Nordic companies. Anni’s signature style is simple and understated but never boring. In her designs, she strives to combine an artistic vision with manufacturability. I @studiofinna

FURRY I Sanni Rajapolvi

Furry is a floor lamp that combines a familiar object type with an unexpected material. Its simple and recognisable form paired with its hand-tufted woolen surface invites one to touch and examine it more closely. The lamp creates a warm and soft atmosphere around it even when it is not lit. Its friendly and approachable character brings joy to both the eye and the mind. 

Sanni Rajapolvi is a Helsinki-based interior architect and designer who graduated from Aalto University in 2022. Her guideline for designing is form, function and fun. Sustainable materials, well-thought-out joints, a sense of play, art and poetics are at the heart of her design aesthetics. When designing spaces or objects, her aim is to create an inspirational and long-lasting atmosphere that takes into account sustainable values. I @sannirajapolvi

More information:

Pia Sievinen, communication & brand, Habitare, tel. +358 40 559 9155,

Get accredited here:

Images can be downloaded here

Habitare, the leading furniture, design and interiors event in the Nordic countries, will be held at the Helsinki Expo and Convention Centre from 11 to 15 September 2024.| | | @habitarefair | #habitare2024

Read more