Designer Samuli Naamanka: “My mind is my most important tool”

Designer Samuli Naamanka: “My mind is my most important tool”



Designer Samuli Naamanka, 49, is known for designing graphic concrete. Now he is developing new materials to replace thermoplastic. Naamanka gave a a workshop at then University of Westminster in March.

What inspires you at the moment?

“For the last decade, I’ve been inspired by new materials that could, for example, replace thermoplastic which is harmful to the environment. That’s what I’m engaged in at the moment.”

Which tools are important to you in your work?

“Definitely my own mind and innovative thinking. I use 3D software for modelling but not before I’ve drawn some drafts. The traditional pen and paper are still important tools for me as they nurture creative thinking.”

If you face an obstacle in your work, how do you overcome it?

“I bang my head against the wall, give up on the idea and move on to find a new solution. I’ll simply try to find another way to reach my goal.”

Have you noticed any differences between the teaching methods in Britain and Finland?

“Surprisingly few. In order to learn design, it is important to be able to perceive the objects in their realistic size and see how the materials work in practice. That’s why models are very important, no matter how ugly the early ones might look. The traditional way of teaching design will never go away as small-scale models and 3D software might give you a false perception of how materials work.”

What could we learn about design from the British?

“There is less and less industrial manufacturing in Finland and Britain. Therefore a shortage of companies for the designers to work for. We are moving towards a service culture in design, and the British are more advanced in this field. In the UK, there is a lot of proficiency in marketing which is something that the Finnish have a lot to learn from. In Finland, we have knowledge in engineering, but lack of producing for consumers. Fortunately, there are new design companies with expertise in this area as well.”

The workshop at the University of Westminster focused on steam bending techniques and was sponsored by the Finnish Institute in London.

 Interview by Oula Paunonen

Pictures by Roxy Mikkonen

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