Alex Mustonen - Interview

Alex Mustonen - Interview

Interview with Alex Mustonen

JUNE 2024

What led you to start collaborating with Made by Choice?

The collaboration started when I met with the Made by Choice founders in Salone del Mobile 2019, where I was invited to an exhibition by a mutual friend. I Met Matthew, Niclas, Lasse, Sebastian and everyone was so welcoming and gracious. 

That evening sparked my interest in the Finnish origins and identity of Made by Choice. Being half Finnish myself, with my dad’s family from Finland, the idea of working with a Finnish company felt significant to me personally.

The unique collaboration with Matthew Day Jackson, who wasn't an industrial designer, was particularly intriguing. At Snarkitecture, we operate within and outside the realms of design and architecture, and I appreciate that kind of “art origin.”

LIEKSA design chair with Snarkitecture

Could you tell us a bit about your roots in Lieksa? 

My dad’s family is from northern Karelia, a small place called Hirvivaara, which isn’t even a town or village. My dad lived in the US for about 20 years, and when I was in high school, he moved back to Finland. Though I’ve never lived there, I visit almost every two years. Despite never living there, Finland feels large and important to me in terms of personal values and interests. I feel at home in nature and natural surroundings. I’ve always admired the Finnish “quiet fortitude.”

Additionally, the design and architectural legacy of Finland, a small country with such a significant impact, is impressive. Companies like Made by Choice continue to revitalize Finnish design on a global stage.

What has been your experience with Made by Choice from a designer's perspective?

Our collaboration started somewhat distantly, primarily due to the pandemic. People were still traveling less, so much of our work was done remotely. We actually never went to Finland to review anything, with only one trip here with Antti and Niclas to look at a couple of things.

Despite this, I'm excited about the collection being out. We're making small refinements and fine-tuning some of the newer pieces while looking into the next additions to this series. What excites me most is that it’s not just a single object but a family of objects. There’s potential for future pieces like stools, side tables, or benches to be added to the collection. This opens up huge opportunities for us to incorporate these products into our design projects, especially hospitality projects that require multiple pieces. Previously, we were limited to fully customized furniture, but now we have more accessible and affordable options.

What makes Made by Choice stand out from other furniture manufacturers?

Made by Choice is in an interesting position as a young new company, operating not at the scale of mass production. Everything still has that kind of handmade sensibility and the fact that it’s made in Halikko. I got to go there in 2019 when I visited Finland and it was great to see the area and ground of innovation and the culture of making in the area.

Everything is handmade and human in a way. And of course working with wood - wood I would associate with Finnish design just it’s so visible natural resource in Finland.

Where do you draw inspiration for your design work?

Currently, I draw a lot of inspiration from being outdoors. During summer, I live in upstate New York, just outside the city, and I try to spend as much time outside as possible. Making things outdoors is very inspiring.

The idea behind the form of the Lieksa chair, for example, comes from a balance between natural materials and fabrication processes. It’s a rational shape, produced in a shop or factory setting, that still reflects natural forms through the use of wood. It’s a play on the balance and isolation between what’s fabricated and the natural material used.


Design table details, Lieksa with Snarkitecture

Alex Mustonen 2024