Designer Hemmo Honkonen

Intuitive mediation

Hemmo Honkonen designs furniture with a surprising component – preferably made of wood. Sometimes it serves as an instrument as well.
by Anna Moldenhauer | 10/26/2021

For Hemmo Honkonen, the path to design began with guitars: instead of continuing with academic studies after high school like many of his classmates, he decided to study building stringed instruments at Finland's Ikaalinen College of Crafts and Design. "It was the ideal combination for me at the time, to learn a craft and continue making music at the same time," he says. In 2014, he completed the training and followed it up with a bachelor's degree in furniture design at Carl Malmstens – Linköping University. This year he graduated with a Master's degree in Interior Architecture from Aalto University.

In parallel, his final project "Embossing Wood" was recently exhibited at "The Lost Graduation Show" at supersalone in Milan. Consisting of chairs, a cabinet and a wall section, the research project shows an embossed surface texture for which Hemmo Honkonen resorts to a carpenter's trick: "'Embossing Wood' explores a solid wood embossing method that is based on a phenomena that I first encountered in 2011 when I was studying stringed instrument making. It is usually used to repair small dents on wooden surfaces by lifting them with the help of moisture and heat. I had the idea to use it for reliefs instead of smoothing depressions with it," he says about it.

"Embossing Wood"
"Embossing Wood"
"Embossing Wood"

Sonorous balance

A clean construction, wood as a material and a sense for the special detail are characteristics that run as a red line through Hemmo Honkonen's work – be it for "Embossing Wood" or also "Plateau", made of solid wood. Formally combined from different geometries, the latter can be quickly assembled into a side table with wooden joints and socket screws. The "Beak" beech wood shelf system is also easy to assemble and disassemble: the aprons are clicked into place on the sides and fastened with wing nuts. For the "Notko" side table, he combined wood and linoleum in collaboration with Artek and Forbo. Shaped as a loop, this offers storage space for magazines. At the same time, the formal requirements for the sling shape the construction of the frame.

Shelf system "Beak"
Shelf system "Beak"

The sculptural, artistic element that characterises his designs is also humorously evident in his collection "Möbler som låter" – "Audible Furniture", which is at the same time a study of mechanically generated sound and its application to furniture. Presented for the first time at the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair in 2018, it consists of a wall-mounted cabinet, a rocking chair and a low chair, all of which produce their own sounds when used. In the combination of art and design, what counts for Hemmo Honkonen is balance: "It should not be pushed too far, otherwise the result becomes a gimmick", he says. In many ways, he offers users an intuitive interaction via the design, which has an inherent moment of surprise. In the future, Hemmo Honkonnen would like to add another level to his work: "Light design interests me, I would like to work with it more," he states.

Side table "Notko"