Habitare 2017: Muji + United Stories

Habitare 2017 presents: MUJI's President to Finland and a new cooperation concept United Stories


Text: Saana Ihamäki

Photos: Habitare / Ryohin keikaku ltd.


Finland's biggest furniture, interior decoration and design fair Habitare has announced The International Friend of the fair in 2017 and a new retail show concept United Stories. Finland meets Asia in both of these new projects. The collaboration with the two faraway cultures will ignite a conversation and offer new standpoints in design.


The new retail show concept United Stories

Habitare fair will be arranged next autumn but the production of the contents of the fair is already in full swing.

The new retail show concept of Habitare, United Stories, will combine designers and companies at the international level. Finland and Asia have been selected as the collaboration partners of the collections of this first time. The products that will result from the cooperation will be on sale at the fair with the name Habitare Originals. The aim is that the products will continue their life after the fair in the product portfolios of the companies.

The Finnish designers of the Sino-Finnish collaboration are creating furniture for the whole family together with Avarte Shanghai. The Chinese designers are creating a foldable mattress for children, and home accessories together with Finnish Lennol.


 In the cooperation project of South Korea and Finland, two textile designers will work in collaboration with companies making use of natural materials in traditional ways.


Nordic design and Finnish designers interest the consumers in Asia. The Japanese and Finnish designers have been cooperating also previously but now China and South Korea, too, have been increasingly interested in Finnish design.

According to the experience of Laura Sarvilinna, Programme Director of Habitare, Finnish design interests in Asia because of its functionality and the refined aesthetics typical of both cultures.

"They often mention that they like how the nature is visible in the work of Finnish designers," Sarvilinna notes.



As a result of the cooperation between companies and designers from Finland and Japan, there will be tableware for children, lamps and textiles.


The United Stories collection will include at least lamps and textiles, as well as porcelain tableware and a rocking chair for children.

The collections will be made as a cooperative project, with a Finnish or an Asian designer pairing with a company from the other country.

"Our idea was that the result of the collaboration is something that the company would not have necessarily achieved alone or with a pair from its own country."

Laura Sarvilinna, Programme Director of Habitare


MUJI as The International Friend

The International Friend of 2017 also comes from Asia. Japanese Masaaki Kanai is the President of the super popular Japanese lifestyle shop chain MUJI.

MUJI comes from the words "Mujirushi Ryōhin" which means "No-Brand Quality Goods".

Kanai has himself told that he hopes to see design aesthetics arising from the Finnish nature, as well as products where the traditional culture is combined with modern technology.


Muji trusts logolessness, simple packaging and minimal marketing in its concept.


The International Friend will select the most interesting products and phenomena at Habitare and give a keynote lecture at the fair.

"For me, as a design professional, the greatness of MUJI lies in the fact that it has succeeded in concepting an approachable, functional and high-quality brand which is available to all," Sarvilinna says. "As an example, MUJI's pens, looking rather ordinary, are yet recognized all over the world."

Well, are we going to get MUJI finally to Helsinki, as one result of the cooperation?

"I have been asking this for several times since the year 2005 but we are not at that point that we would see a MUJI shop here. Of course I hope that when Mr. Kanai comes to visit us and meets people and sees places, he would get the feeling that this is the best market in the Nordic countries. I have faith in the fact that Finland is strong though small," says Sarvilinna warmly.




Habitare was a partner in TRE Christmas Market.

Habitare, the biggest furniture, interior decoration and design fair in Finland will be arranged in Messukeskus Helsinki 13–17 September 2017. Habitare.messukeskus.com