by Adrian Smith and Niclas Ahlström

Joanna Laajisto - Interview

Joanna Laajisto - Interview

Halikko, Finland

Interview with Joanna Laajisto


Why did you begin working with Choice ?

Largely as a result of the persistence of Niclas (Ahlström, one of the 3 founding partners of Choice) contacting me in the hope that my design house would have a project that would be suitable for Choice to work on. I was already specifying custom pieces of furniture for interior design projects. In 2016, we started to work together on my design that would become the Airisto collection from Made by Choice.

As a designer, I develop a new concept from a need perspective ie: if there is not already a piece of furniture or a fabric that fits with the space that I am designing then I will source from new. Choice were very concrete and realistic with a 'can-do attitude' to helping me create the new collection.

What has been your experience of Choice from a designer viewpoint ?

The Choice team has been very responsive to the project timelines and to making changes from the original brief and the initial prototype. The quality has always been exceptional with a high level of artisanship applied at every level of the manufacturing process. Too often in my experience I have seen evidence of value-engineering in the design and manufacture of products. This is not my philosophy; rather a good design deserves to be produced without compromise and cost-cutting in order to be true to the longevity, sustainability and timelessness of the piece. Made by Choice fully endorses this philosophy in their company creed.


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

The Made by Choice team has a hands-on attitude and is very flexible and timely in their responses. Having the local factory here in SW Finland (Halikko) is a real bonus and adds to the agility of the team and convenience for the designer. Speed to prototyping and a lack of compromise again are of paramount importance to the designer.


What inspired your latest design - the Kaski chair ?

The Kaski chair was developed for a national Finnish brand and specifically for a brick and mortar retail experience representing contemporary Finnish countryside heritage. The demand for domestic furniture is growing in Finland and this piece was designed in 2 sizes to suit either a hotel lobby. a summer residence or a hotel room.

The Kaski chair can be referred to as a transitional piece within the Choice range - it is neither a fully upholstered chair or sofa nor is it designed to fit behind a desk. It is a lightweight lounge chair constructed from light ash wood and braided natural linen with a comfortable nubuck leather pillow.


Why did you choose Made by Choice ahead of partnering with another furniture company?

For the reasons stated earlier; I already had a 3D model and Choice in mind as the producer that I wanted to make the chair when I showed the prototype to Lasse. It was important to me and particularly relevant that this design would be made by a Finnish company and produced locally.