Interview with Ålandic design duo Korpi & Gordon


[block_quote] “We want our products to make people happy” [/block_quote]

Korpi & Gordon is a textile design and print company from Åland that makes products for the home and metered fabrics. Nordic Style Magazine met up with the Ålandic-British couple behind the brand, Maria Korpi and Adam Gordon, at a Mariehamn café and talked about retro Scandi Design, the beauty of Åland and their greatest success to date.


Maria Korpi and Adam Gordon, what do you produce?

Maria Korpi: We produce items for the home. We do mainly kitchen towels and pot holders – these are our bestsellers.

Adam Gordon: We also make laminated trays and cutting boards. And metered fabrics as well.


What is the main idea of your designs?

Maria Korpi: I want our products to make people happy. For instance, if you like flowers and buy one of our towels with a floral design, you have flowers in your kitchen. You can look at the product and simply feel good. Our design is not complicated. In part we still do the same patterns as we did 15 years ago, and it still works.

Adam Gordon: We are not looking for something that is about fashion and season, we want to produce something that is essentially classic. If I was being pretentious and putting hashtags on it, I would say retro Scandi Design.


DSC_4720_web_Interior of Alandica Culture and Congress Centre

Interior of Alandica Culture and Congress Centre

Where are your products being sold?

Adam Gordon: On Åland you find our stuff at Fyndet, Judy´s and Smakbyn. We also do a lot of contract work here. For instance, in Alandica Congress and Culture Centre we have done some of the interior designs like soft furnishings, cups and trays. We have produced the curtains of the National Bank of Åland as well. If you cycle around in Mariehamn, you can see a lot of curtains which we have done in people´s homes.

DSC_4698_web_Interior of National Ban of Åland in Mariehamn

Interior of National Ban of Åland in Mariehamn

How can people outside of Åland buy Korpi & Gordon items?

Maria Korpi: Lately we have sold most of our products in Japan. So we have been concentrating on that market recently.

Adam Gordon: In the past, we have had retailers in Sweden, Denmark, France, Italy and Germany. We are currently working on a web shop that will focus on the Scandinavian market more than recently. I have to admit that we have to re-invent our production if we want to increase our retail market. 75 percent of our kitchen products are handmade, so we have to come up with more effective ways which are less labour intensive.

When did you actually first meet?

Maria Korpi: We first met in 1998 while we were both working in London. Adam is a graduate of the Winchester School of Art and I studied textile and fashion design in Turku. In 2000, we started our own business.

Why did you decide to move to Åland?

Maria Korpi: It actually was Adam´s idea.

Adam Gordon: Yes, I was working on conferences in England for years and I just wanted to get back to creative work. I think we both felt we needed a change. And Åland is an ideal place to work from.

Why is that?

Maria Korpi: Because it´s close to nature and at the same time close to work. All distances are short on Åland. You save a lot of time because you don’t have to travel around. Åland is located directly between Sweden and Finland, two design rich countries. So that’s good for a design company like ours.

Adam Gordon: But the most important reason why we moved here was to have a secure family life. Our kids were born in London and it´s quite stressful to live there. Here on Åland you can have quality time. And you have all the good aspects that all Scandinavian countries have like health care and education.

Are your designs inspired by Åland?

Maria Korpi: A bit maybe, yes. I really like the Ålandic flora and fauna, so that definitely has an impact on my drawings.

DSC_4611_web DSC_4612_web

The company Korpi & Gordon is just the two of you? Or do you have employees?

Maria Korpi: Basically it’s just us. We compliment each other perfectly. Adam is better at drawing and I´m better at the technical side. Both parts are needed. Sometimes we have a few people who help us with the production. I´m a bit of a control freak, so I prefer to do all the work by myself.

What was the biggest success of the company so far?

Maria Korpi: A big success was when we did a job for Ikea a few years ago. We did a collection of six prints called Gunnel. It was available at Ikea stores in 2007.

How did you manage to get the Ikea job?

Maria Korpi: They contacted us.

Adam Gordon: We were at the Furniture Fair in Stockholm in 2005 and many visitors, among them companies like Ikea, really liked our products.

Where do you want the company stand in five years from now?

Adam Gordon: As we said earlier, we want to resolve our production issues, start employing people and grow the business. The demand is greater than the supply.

Maria Korpi: In the beginning, we were very active and called all the stores and retailers. But since we are currently so busy with the Japanese clients, we stopped doing this because we can´t call and not deliver. In August, we started working on our webshop, that is a big step forward for us. We just want our business to grow and develop in a positive way. Just like it did the past 14 years.



Photos: Stephan Lücke