Andbros – Playful and inventive design for every home

Andbros – Playful and inventive design for every home

Andbros is the brand name of not just one but four Finnish designers – Antti-Jussi Silvennoinen, Elisa Konttinen, Pekka Kuivamäki and Tero Kuitunen.

All are united by various materials and their insightful use. Indeed, Andbros is well known for its playful design, and in a short time the brand has claimed its rightful place as one of the most interesting design firms in Finland. In particular, Andbros is recognised for its award-winning Cardboard Lights – Compleated series as well as its Pus Pus pillowcases.

Andbros has been awarded the Design from Finland and Key Flag symbols, which convey the message of Finnish design and origin. We chatted for a moment with the founder of the brand, Antti-Jussi Silvennoinen.

How did the Andbros story actually start?

“I began studying in the design field at TUAS Arts Academy in 2002. I first got my feet wet as an entrepreneur during my school years, when I noticed a sleepy little functionalist visor kiosk – quite empty – in Turku’s Railway Park. I decided to bring it back to life! That attempt resulted in a lot of positive attention.

In addition to traditional kiosk products, I sold clothing and caps there as well as arranging a range of different sales and DJ events. Basically, a burning desire to also try the commercialisation of my own design work and see where it might lead came out of all this.”

Elisa and Antti-Jussi got to know each other during those years, and even if most of Elisa’s work was in the advertising field, she too wanted to fulfil her personal goals in the area of design. Antti-Jussi became acquainted with Pekka and Tero when he started studying at Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2010. One key milestone was when they all put their own products on sale at the traditional university Christmas sale arranged through TOKYO Student Union. The sale was a success and the group decided to combi

How did you come up with your funny name?

“We wanted the name to be appropriately anonymous. There’s a certain reference to traditional family businesses that end with ‘and sons’ or ‘brothers’ in the name. This sort of thing has its own charm and it suits our modern way of thinking about handicrafting.”

What sort of stand do you take as designers?

“From the very beginning, our main idea has been to design products that do a little something to brighten every home,” Antti-Jussi explains.

“Our ‘flat pack’ products are suitable in terms of size and price as gift items as well. I also believe that when the assembly of flat pack items is made easy for the consumer, it creates a new kind of relationship between the user and the product.

The idea of ecological design is also built-in – for us it’s a matter that’s self-evident and should be taken into account in every product that’s planned these days. It doesn’t shut out any sort of design potential. In our lighting range, generally the design grabs people’s attention first – and only then do they notice that – wow! – they’re actually made of cardboard!”

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In addition to playful design, you utilise various materials in an inventive manner.

“Yes. Personally, I’ve always wanted to get to the bottom of various materials and I’ve also tried out many different kinds. My former teacher told me that my design work is quite material-based. Only by investigating and understanding materials can you discover their possibilities and thereby come up with ideas of new things that you could do with them.

My own design often has its origins in the making of prototypes, since a concrete model really helps you to better understand the dimensions of a product and its material than pieces that are merely formed on a computer.

The Cardboard Lights concept is also a good example of how something can occasionally come into being almost accidentally. We were making packages with one of our subcontractors by laser-cutting deep folds in various paperboard materials when we got the idea that the combination of this method and the material itself could also be introduced to product design.

In one of Aalto University’s dark bathrooms, we then tested the first handmade electric light prototypes, using cardboard in order to determine what sort of light they provided. This is how we noticed that a totally cool pearl necklace effect was created in the folds of the lampshade, giving the product its own identity. This is how the development effort behind The Cardboard Lights series originally got off the ground,” Antti-Jussi relates.

Is there anything in Andbros products or the ideology that is particularly Finnish?

“Well, generally our style could be classified as Scandinavian, and sometimes people think we’re Danish. The Finnish element is perhaps conveyed the most by the local production concept. Taking nature into consideration is important to all of us, in addition to the fact that our products are made in Finland. These are the results of long-term development work, and in Finland strong know-how exists in the production of high-quality paperboard materials.

And although our enterprise is still tiny, it’s nice to think that we can give work to our subcontractors and give faces to their expertise. That sort of thing is meaningful in itself and brings even more value to it.”

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Which designers do you personally admire?

“There are those who always leave their own elegant mark – for example, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, who recently designed a fine outdoor furniture series for HAY.

At the Frankfurt Fair, I also bumped into a Dutch firm named Soonsalon. You never encounter that sort of design in the Finnish design field.

It’s a fine thing that truly different kinds of objects can be born in various cultures, and I also like how in people’s homes you can come across both old and new, personally obtained or inherited.”

What’s in the Top 3 in the music charts at the moment?

(Laughing) “Radio Helsinki takes care of that extremely well!”

What are your own design tips for those visiting Finland?

“Go to the forest! In Helsinki that could be Nuuksio or Sipoonkorpi, for example. Personally, I do a lot of climbing in those areas. If you can’t make it to the forest, Teurastamo and Suvilahti are well worth a visit in the summertime.

Fiskars Village is also a great milieu, but if you have the chance, go and get to know Old Rauma. You’ll find a tremendous entrepreneurial spirit there that can be seen in its range of restaurants, cafés and boutiques.”

What can we expect from you in terms of what’s new?

“Well, our light collection will be expanding soon, and in the autumn at Habitare in Helsinki and at Maison Objet in Paris you’ll be able to examine them in more detail,” Antti-Jussi says.