Three Estonian Designers Revealing Hand and Material Traces in Everyday Objects

Author: Nithikul Nimkulrat

popular science article, 2019

Design may be a relatively new field in Estonia, only becoming known in the 1990s. However, its root can be traced back more than a century when some design areas were called applied arts, which implied the inclusion of a craft process or “a period of intensive involvement in handwork”. While craft is still inherent in many forms of Estonian design practice today, the term seems to have an inferior connotation in the Estonian modern economy as its translation to Estonian creates a mismatch between something old-fashioned opposed to something forward-looking, which people in the Estonian design scene expect to reach.

This listicle aims to shed light on the exceptional craftsmanship of Estonian design products for everyday life and to consider it a key characteristic that makes Estonian design distinguishable. As access to mass production is extremely limited, small handmade production is commonplace in Estonia. By examining hand and material traces in works created by three Estonian designers, the importance of the craft that is culturally built into Estonian design may be more clearly understood as “a dynamic process of learning and understanding through material experience”. The selections of design products include: 1) wooden eyewear frames by Karl Annus of Framed by Karl; 2) leather bags by Stella Soomlais; and 3) tableware by Raili Keiv. The everyday objects they design reveal unique hand and material traces that tell the story of the process of making them.

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Suggested Citation: Nimkulrat, N. (2019). Three Estonian Designers Revealing Hand and Material Traces in Everyday Objects. Estonian Art 19(1), 82–87.