Observing Our Everyday Surroundings With Designer Marianne Huotari
A strong sense of material is clearly present in the works of Marianne Huotari, the founder and designer of Studio Smoo. Her passion for minimalism and colour harmony is underlining.
“Wait a moment!”, Marianne Huotari says and takes a picture of a plastered wall of an Art Nouveau –building. We are walking in the vibrant district of Punavuori in Helsinki and the designer has just been inspired by the colors in the inner courtyard. After a block or two we have to stop again, this time because of a metal lock with lovely patina.
”Color combinations and structures of old buildings inspire me greatly. Day after day they give me new ideas. In a way I’m always at work as my ideas are born whenever and wherever. I feel privileged to be surrounded by this beauty.”, Marianne tells us when we arrive at her studio, located next to the Sinebrychoff park in the center of Helsinki.
While studying textile design in the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Marianne did not plan to establish her own business. Today, she couldn’t think of any other way to pursue her career. It all began three years ago when she designed a pair of silver earrings to the students´ Christmas Sales. There was a huge demand for these jewelleries and she had to find her first retailer. Earrings were selling surprisingly well and gave a flying start to her very own company, Studio Smoo.
The name Smoo derives from the Swedish word små which means small in plural. Like the name, Smoo is a small but diverse one-woman design studio. During the last couple of years, Marianne has widened the product portfolio, yet jewellery is still playing an important role of Smoo´s business. In addition, Marianne designs everyday items for domestic use in collaboration with different companies, not to forget unique ceramic art works.
Marianne´s design is known for it’s clear form, delicate colors and strong sense of material.
– I find almost every organic material temptating. Clay, glass, wood, textiles as well as many recycled materials are an endless resource for me. I constantly try to find new ways to use them.
“Color combinations and structures of old buildings inspire me greatly. Day after day they give me new ideas.”
— Marianne Huotari
There are some small works hanging on the wall in her Studio. They appear to be made of textile material, but a closer look reveals them to be made of clay. These ceramic “rya rugs” are a homage to Finnish traditional wall textiles and a perfect example of Marianne´s way to see material from a new point of view.
The colors of the works – burnt orange, olive green and the shades of rose – are picked from Finnish Art Nouveau buildings. These historical tones give perspective to Marianne’s contemporary design and place her work in the continuum of Finnish design and art.
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ITEM is a Helsinki based design & lifestyle magazine. We curate and contextualize selections of items, through interviews and stories, which focus on one or another aspect of Finnish art, design, fashion, and wellness.