Ari Korolainen

Professional in Accessory Design.

About Ari Korolainen

Ari Korolainen is a Finnish architect and designer who was one of the first designers who used recycled materials in his designs. 1985 he started to make cases and stationery products of recycled cardboard. Today he also uses recycled leather commonly in his designs. Good design and environmentally friendly materials can be seen in his Private Case stationery collection. Now, 30 years later, Private Case is a large collection of stationery products and Korolainen is known as Mr Private Case. Furniture design is his another ambition.

  • Winner of 11 A' Design Awards.
  • 5-Time Winner of Accessory Design Award.
  • Specialized in Accessory Design.
  • 11 Featured Original Designs.
  • Highly Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Accessory
  • Lighting
  • Gift
  • Furniture
Wake Up Boarding Time Tag

Wake Up Boarding Time Tag

Accessory Design

Olga Case

Olga Case

Accessory Design

Smile  Business card holder

Smile Business card holder

Accessory Design

Divide Light fixture

Divide Light fixture

Lighting Design

Pocket Refillable notebook

Pocket Refillable notebook

Gift Design

All You Need Organizer

All You Need Organizer

Accessory Design

Cubic Slim Chair

Cubic Slim Chair

Furniture Design

Cubic Multifunctional chair

Cubic Multifunctional chair

Furniture Design

Big Click Multifunctional table

Big Click Multifunctional table

Furniture Design

Divine Big light pot

Divine Big light pot

Lighting Design

Teip Case

Teip Case

Accessory Design


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Interview with Ari Korolainen

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
My interest in art derives from my childhood home, as my father was an artist. I can still remember the smell of turpentine, and ultramarine painted on canvas. At school I had a very good and supportive art teacher, who encouraged me to continue with my artistic aspirations. I graduated as a construction architect in 1984. In my work I had to visit customers, and I did not have a nice light case where to carry my drawings. So I made myself a prototype briefcase from recycled cardboard. The case got a lot of attention from my customers and colleagues, they seemed to be more interested in the briefcase than my drawings. I started making similar cases for my colleagues, and soon after I founded a company of my own.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
Private Case was founded in 1985 and is based in Lahti, Finland. By that time I worked as an architect and industrial designer, and started to manufacture my own briefcases made of recycled cardboard. A timeless, simple yet beautiful shape and functionality were the starting points for the product design. The good acceptance in the market and their unique design, which has been recognized by numerous awards, have made Private Case Oy one of the leading manufacturers of environmentally friendly stationery products in the international market.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
I think my favorite design is the entire Private Case collection. I started making it in 1985, and I may have been the first designer to start making products from recycled materials. Most of the people know me as Mr. Private Case.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
Recycled materials. Nowadays I use a lot of recycled leather. It is made of leftover leather pieces from shoe and bag factories.
When do you feel the most creative?
I think it is when discussing with customers and when they tell about their problems. That's when ideas start to fly.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
Sometimes from the first idea, I have to go far to find a way back to the first one.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
I think there is often a feeling if I could do something better. What would be the next step?
What makes a design successful?
A design is successful if a lot of people would like to have one and they are ready to pay for it. You feel you have succeeded when your work delights its user.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
Good design combines ecological and aesthetic aspects with functionality. A new product has something old and familiar as well as something new.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
I think good designer is always "ten years ahead of time".
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
I think designers have kind of a playful mind.. You have to do something that has not been done before, but at the same time you have to keep in your mind the past and the history of the product.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
My design is simple and clean without any extra "lines". My works often have a funny detail, which lends them a cheerful look. I enjoy seeing them bring joy to the recipient. You feel you have succeeded when your work brings a smile on its user's face.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
I have many ideas but typically in my work, drawing the very first line can be difficult. I can start the same project many times over, and at the final stage I remove everything I possibly can to achieve the result I want. My works are plain, with each individual detail and dimension carefully planned.
Can you describe a day in your life?
My working day starts at about 8.30 and ends at 6. It allows far too little time for design work, most of it is something totally different. I often continue design work after 8 in the evening.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
You have to be willing to learn a lot. Very often there is not one right answer. Be ready to do everything. Trust yourself and do things that derive from your inner self.
What skills are most important for a designer?
A good designer has to be able to understand the customer’s needs and problems. You need to have an open mind.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
Normally ideas of a product come fast, but then taking away everything that is not needed takes time.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I develop by myself, but listen to my family's and friends' opinions too.
How can people contact you?
My e-mail is ari.korolainen@privatecase.fi My phone number is +358 500 716833

Designer of the Day Interview with Ari Korolainen

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I graduated as a construction architect in 1984. I used to design single family homes, and I did not have a suitable briefcase for my papers. So I created the first prototype, using recycled cardboard. I carried my drawings in my briefcase, and when visiting customers, people’s attention was drawn to the briefcase. They seemed to be more interested in the briefcase than my drawings.My designer colleagues wanted similar ones for themselves. So, very soon I founded a company focused on producing briefcases. This was 1985. The collection soon expanded to include other stationery products.
How did you become a designer?
A few years later I started designing furniture, and these products were also very well received, a bit like my briefcases. Consequently, I founded a new company, ADESSIN Oy, to produce furniture.For instance, Helsinki Opera House chose to use some of my furniture. I remember an old friend from university talking about Mario Botta’s furniture some years ago, and just a few years later, my furniture was being used in the same opera house as Botta’s.My interest in art derives from my childhood home, as my father was an artist. I can still remember the smell of turpentine, and ultramarine painted on canvas. At school I had a very good and supportive art teacher, who encouraged me to continue with my artistic aspirations.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
Typically in my work, drawing the very first line can be difficult. I can start the same project many times over, and at the final stage I remove everything I possibly can to achieve the result I want. My works are plain, with each individual detail and dimension carefully planned.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
My works often have a funny detail, which lends them a cheerful look. I enjoy seeing them bring joy to the recipient. You feel you have succeeded when your work delights its owner.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
My next project is armchairs connected together with small table tops.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
Trust yourself. Do things that derive from your inner self. Try to create coherent entities.
What is your day to day look like?
My working day starts at about 8.30 and ends at 6. It allows far too little time for design work. I often continue design work after 8 in the evening.
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
I don’t consciously follow trends, but on the other hand, your own work has some effect on them.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
Good design combines ecological and aesthetic aspects with functionality. A new product has something old and familiar as well as something new.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
A piece is ready when both the customer and the designer are satisfied with it.
What is your biggest design work?
The Private Case selection is my ‘greatest’ work. I may have been the first designer to start making products from recycled materials. At first we used recycled cardboard and paper. We also used a lot of recycled leather. It is made from the leftovers from shoe and bag manufacturers.
Who is your favourite designer?
It is hard to say which designer or artist I especially admire. Perhaps those who create plain products. Perhaps Rietveld and Le Corbusier, to mention a few. From my colleagues participating in the A-design Award, I’d mention Simone Mantovani.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
Less is More. When it comes to cities, I’m inspired by Como, and the time just before leaving to go there, when you are designing something new and wondering whether this would be fitting for Como.I usually design alone, but when a piece is at a certain stage, I show it to designer colleagues who give me feedback – or not. Sometimes it’s better if my work leaves them speechless. I usually meet up with a certain colleague once a year, when where I present him one or more of my works.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
A good designer has to be able to understand the customer’s needs and problems.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
I have had many young people as trainees who have later applied to design schools and have been admitted.I have also offered work to many design students. It has been a pleasure to follow their careers.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
Participation in competitions allows you to benchmark the level of your design work at a national and international level. Succeeding in competitions also raises the profile of your country in the design world.Awards also get attention in the press. International exhibitions raise the international awareness of your work. Awards can be used in marketing and sales promotion. It is the kind of positive publicity money can’t buy.An important benefit from participating in competitions is that you can get to know designers from all over the world. If you need information about events, exhibitions, or suitable sales outlets, for example, you can always contact colleagues in different countries.It is a great honour to be selected as a: Designer of the Day.

Extended Interview with Ari Korolainen

Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?
I graduated as an architect (B.Arch.) in 1984. I designed houses for about a year.
What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
When working as an architect, I often carried with me heavy briefcases full of construction drawings. I started thinking about what would be an easier and better way of storing them and carrying them around to different places. So I created a lightweight briefcase for myself from cardboard. Soon the cardboard briefcase aroused a lot of attention, and people asked me where they could buy one.
Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?
So I had to establish my own factory, PRIVATE CASE OY, and started to design more items.
What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?
A young designer has to be patient, work hard, and trust in his work.
What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?
Differences between a good designer and a great designer... I think a good designer designs a lot. A great designer listens a lot.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
Good design creates a feeling of strong attraction, a really good design experience.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Investing in good design is an investment in a better future for yourself.
What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
My dream project is to design a house for myself, with my own furniture.
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
I want to design items that have an element of surprise for their user, and that create a positive experience
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
Knowing the amount of work they have put in and difficulties they have overcome, I admire their achievements.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
It is hard to say what is my greatest design. Is it Private Case, is it the Helsinki Opera collection, is it Click, or is it Divine? Design is great when people call it classic.
How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?
Always be willing to learn and to accept new challenges. Be curious and keep your eyes open for problems that need solving.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
An architect or a designer – there were not other possibilities.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
I think my family has been my greatest support even though it is not always been easy. A young designer with great ideas, without money.
What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?
Next is coming ... new environmentally friendly material for Private Case products.
What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?
To create a positive feeling in the customer when he or she finds out about my products.
What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
When people learn about my products, they expect plain design with a new kind of idea or detail.
How does design help create a better society?
My latest design is Buy Local, where I try to get people to use local products.Design should reflect the values behind it. This way, design can bring people together and spread awareness of current issues and can encourage everyone to take action. My latest design, under the BUY LOCAL mark, is an example of this. The marking tells the user where a product is made. It is designed to increase the use of local goods and encourages promotion of local production. By making the decision to buy local, the user contributes to supporting the local economy and employment.
What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?
My next project is BUY LOCAlL ... to inform the people where the products are made. To get people to use local products.
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
I designed a Christmas tree made of opal plastic. With a lamp inside, it projected the image of a star on the ceiling of the church. The sight was overwhelming, and everybody went completely silent.
How long does it take you to finalize a design project?
I have several projects going on at the same time. Even if a work seems completed, I can spend a long time thinking about whether I could still improve it somehow
What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
I think colours play an important role in catching people's interest and making an impression. Good design pleases as many of our senses as possible.
What do you wish people to ask about your design?
I'd like people to ask where I got the idea for a design. And where they can buy the product.
When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?
I feel respect towards the designer behind the design. As a designer, I understand the amount of work a successful design can require.
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
A group of designers can surely achieve much together, but I believe that in the end, there has to be someone who says the final word.
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
Keep improving all your skills by trying to do better every time.
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
It is a great honour to receive such attention from Italy, the leading country of design.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
Bright basic colours are my favourite: red, blue, yellow, white, black. I like Como. It is nice to sit down in a restaurant and have, for example, a pizza and a beer. Enjoying the weather of coming summer.
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
A long time ago, in the early ’90s, an advertising agency bought many pieces of furniture that I had designed. Twenty years later, the owner of the agency was retiring and wanted to take all of the pieces to her summer cottage, but they didn’t fit into it. She planned to expand the cottage but didn't get a building permit for the expansion. She decided to buy more land from their neighbour so that they could build a new summer house that would have room for all of the furniture. However, the neighbour didn't agree to sell the land. The advertising agency owner then began taking furniture to various places: she, for instance, took two sofas to a golf club, her husband's workplace. But when the husband retired, they called me and asked whether I was willing to reclaim the two sofas that had not fit anywhere. I bought them back gladly.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
It is a pleasure to get feedback from customers who still have some of the first items I designed about 30 years ago.
When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
As a child I did a lot with my hands, without knowing that it was the first step in my design career.

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