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Julie Tolvanen was born in 1970 near Seattle. Following a degree in architecture from Washington University in 1992, she apprenticed to a cabinetmaker and then an antique restorer before setting up her own workshop to design and build furniture for individual clients. After over a decade as a woodworker, Julie moved to Finland to study for a masters in furniture design at Aalto University and started her own product design agency after graduation in 2012. She shares a studio with her husband, Mika Tolvanen, at a former bakery in the Töölö neighborhood of central Helsinki. Studio Tolvanen is a product design agency that focuses on furniture, lighting, and housewares for home and contract use.