Handmade sketches of a vase in different versions.

Finding the personal in the mass-produced

A dent from a thumb or the mark of an index finger fits your grip perfectly when you hold the vase. Maybe you can feel a connection between yourself and the factory worker who shaped the vase. In the SJÄLVSTÄNDIG collection we are looking at how people can personalise their home. How can you turn something mass-produced to something unique?

“When you realise that every vase is unique, you might wonder why. How are they made and who made them? If we think about the process behind a product, maybe we value it more and keep it longer,” says designer Hanna-Kaarina Heikkilä.

She wanted to use the ceramic process to personalise the items by tweaking it. Hanna-Kaarina visited the factory in China, saw how they worked, and suggested one unconventional idea.

“I first suggested we drop the vase on the table when we take it out of the mold. It was so confusing for the workers. What is going on! Who is this crazy girl? First, they thought they would damage the vase.”

In ceramic mold casting, you have to be very careful and precise, and remove the piece from the mold at just the right time. Together with the people casting the vase she found the right moment to interrupt the process to create the perfect surface without leaving any marks.

“We wanted the workers to leave marks and modify the shape with their own hands.”

Every worker also signed the vase with their own signature, a simple kanji character.

“We want to highlight those behind the product. There are so many people involved in a process, even if it is machine made items,” says Hanna-Kaarina.

Designer Hanna Kaarina looking at a white ceramic vase in her hand.

Hanna-Kaarina explaining the SJÄLVSTÄNDIG vase

Black-and-white handmade sketches of different vases with annotations next to them.

Initial sketches of SJÄLVSTÄNDIG vase