The creation of the Kari chair
The Kari 1 chair was once the result of a series of lucky coincidences. In 1968, Kannelmäki Church was completed, and I designed the benches, altar furniture and bark chairs from bent ash veneer. The furniture was commissioned to Korhonen furniture factory, a well-known manufacturer of Alvar Aalto furniture. In the course of this work, I got to know Pekka Korhonen, the technical director of the Korhonen factory. Perhaps he was impressed by the furniture I had designed for Kannelmäki, because towards the end of the project in 1968 he asked me to design a stackable chair with armrests. I was of course very flattered by the request. I understood the challenge and expectations of the task, as my predecessor was Alvar Aalto himself. So my career as a furniture designer got off to a lucky start.
To help me with the design, I was instructed to use the then still relatively unknown assembly screws. Pekka had made a wooden “model chair” for me, where they had used the same fittings. However, the idea was that I would use the same technique in the new chair as in the church furniture. After all, it was the best technology available in the factory. I made the drawing relatively quickly, I was inspired by my own proposal in a monthly competition, which was about a stackable chair. I corrected this suggestion from my student days so that the chairs could actually be stacked! They were not stackable in my competition proposal. Pekka Korhonen made a prototype and sent it to me. A bit of sawing and filing at home and the Kari chair was born. So I was the second designer at the Korhonen factory after Alvar Aalto. For a young, newly graduated designer, it felt incredibly cool.