The story behind Poiat – meet our founders Timo Mikkonen & Antti Rouhunkoski

The story behind Poiat – meet our founders Timo Mikkonen & Antti Rouhunkoski

Poiat founders and designers Antti Rouhunkoski & Timo Mikkonen

Hello Timo and Antti!

Could you tell us a little bit about the story behind Poiat?
Antti: The story behind Poiat started in the early 2000s, when we met with Timo at Taideteollinen korkeakoulu (nowadays Aalto University), studying interior architecture and furniture design.

We started doing spatial design projects together and quickly noticed we share the same vision and design philosophy. During this time, the idea of creating a company together surfaced for the first time.

After taking some time to focus on our own projects, we decided to fulfil the idea of our own company and established Poiat Studio in 2010. The company’s focus was on interior architecture at first, but then designing our own furniture became an ambition, especially for Timo, who was using a lot of his free time to create different pieces of furniture. Poiat’s first furniture collection, Lavitta, was launched in 2014. The collection started with a chair but quickly grew into a complete furniture line.

Timo: Today, Poiat consists of two companies: Poiat Studio & Poiat Furniture, which employ a total of 10 people together.

Poiat Studio focuses on designing furniture and interior architecture, and Poiat Furniture is Studio’s own furniture brand. Antti leads the studio’s interior side, and I am responsible for product development and design. Although the two of us focus on different areas of the company, we consult each other extensively on different designs and work very closely together.

How would you describe your design process?

Antti: For us, the process often starts by reflecting on our emotions and memories. For example, I draw a lot of inspiration from the trips I’ve taken to Southern Europe – the places I’ve seen, the architecture, the design, the atmosphere…

Timo: Yes. Our company often mixes local and global influences – for example, for our latest furniture collection Poeme, the inspiration came from old Finnish tools and Japanese architecture. Another source of inspiration for me is factories. I am always keen to see and learn how things are manufactured and what are the possibilities in the production. The knowledge of the production helps us to develop long-lasting and beautiful furniture.

Antti: In Finland, the design ethos is often focused on the concept of functionality – the creative process often starts with thinking about the function of a particular object. We’ve wanted to shift that ethos towards more aesthetics-oriented with our designs. The functionality is naturally a part of our work, but I think that when you create a product or space that is visually appealing, you create a stronger emotional connection as well. That is something we hope people will cherish.

“In Finland, the design ethos is often focused on the concept of functionality – the creative process often starts with thinking about the function of a particular object. We’ve wanted to shift that ethos towards more aesthetics-oriented with our designs.”

Poeme Collection designed by Timo Mikkonen, Antti Rouhunkoski & Aleksandr Pukki of Poiat Studio

What kind of projects have you been working on lately?

Timo: For our product development, the pandemic has been fruitful. It led us to design many new products for our furniture collection. Many are in the development phase and will be launched soon. In 2022, we will double the size of our furniture collection, which feels great.

Antti: With interior architecture, we work a lot with private residences – many of them are large-scale renovations requiring changes to the floor plans. This spring, we’ve had the opportunity to start two extensive projects. One focuses on private residences and the other on commercial spaces, which we’ve also designed previously.

How does the future look for Poiat, and what would be your dream project?

Antti: We hope that the future keeps bringing us multifaceted, large-scale projects. While we have been a part of this industry for quite some time, it is always great to learn new things, such as new software, that we can use in our projects.

Timo: Designing our Furniture Pavilion for Stockholm Furniture Fair 2023 has been a dream project for me. Together with our partners, we are creating an atmospheric stand where the space, furniture and lighting melt together. I believe people will love it.

Antti: Talking about dream projects, I think our shared dream would be to design a boutique hotel in Finland or abroad. I hope that this is something that could happen in the next few years.

Timo: In a way, we live our dream every day: we are fortunate to be in a place where both of us can focus on doing what we love.