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The new exhibition in the Gallery at the Alvar Aalto Museum continues to look at craftsmen working with Finnish wood. For the remainder of the year, the platform has been reserved for the work of Kari Virtanen, the master cabinet-maker based in Fiskars.

Exhibition Kari Virtanen – cabinet-maker. Photo: Maija Holma.

Kari Virtanen (born 1948) is a cabinet-maker who was born and went to school in Ostrobothnia. He has travelled a long road from studying to be a master of ornamental wood-carving in Jurva to reach the apex of modern Finnish design. Virtanen set up his first workshop in Seinäjoki at the age of 19. He has been interested in collaborating with Finnish designers and architects from the very beginning of his studies. Some of Finland’s key figures in the design field have taken an interest in Virtanen’s ambitious work including Alvar Aalto and Kaj Franck, with both of whom he has collaborated.

In his work, Virtanen has identified the innermost nature of wood. Knowledge of the characteristics of different species of wood coupled with an ability to work wood in an extremely skilled manner has produced items of furniture with a design language of artless subtlety: chairs, tables and whole suites of furniture. We have become used to seeing Virtanen’s uncluttered handiwork in a multitude of public spaces as far afield as Japan.

Over and above his own work and his firm, Nikari, Virtanen has been influential in many projects in the woodworking sector. He has occupied a key role in developing teaching in the sector and as a model cabinet-maker. In 2005, he was awarded the Finnish State Prize for Design and in 2009, he received the Pro Finlandia Medal, the first cabinet-maker in Finland to be decorated in this way. Kari Virtanen is also one of the most influential figures in the Fiskars community of artists, designers and craft-workers.

In addition to furniture that is already in production, the exhibition at the Alvar Aalto Museum will also be showing entirely new developments in Virtanen’s work. The exhibition experience is crowned by the work of another progressive designer, Professor Simo Heikkilä, whose ideas lie behind the exhibition display.

Kari Virtanen – cabinet-maker


Alvar Aalto Museum Gallery

Address Alvar Aallon katu 7, 40100 Jyväskylä

Press photos

Enquiries: Mari Murtoniemi, Educational Curator,, t. +358 400 254 708