Recently Vitra, the relatively new owners of Artek, announced that they have now acquired the furniture manufacturers Huonekalutehdas Korhonen Oy.
The company, since 1975 based in Kaarina, just outside Turkuu, was established in 1910 by Otto Korhonen. He worked with Alvar Aalto in the 1920s, specifically experimenting with and developing techniques of steam bending birch and working with plywood, and Korhonen produced the furniture Aalto designed for the Sanitorium at Paimio including Armchair 41 and the famous Stool 60. In fact, Stool 60 has been in continuous production at Korhonen since 1933.
In the 1990s HKT Korhonen developed new ranges with young Finnish designers but 75% of their production is still Aalto designs.
The transfer to Vitra is significant. It shows clearly that they aim to continue manufacturing in Finland rather than moving work to factories in Asia or even to lower-wage economies in Eastern Europe. Presumably this means that not only will they be able to monitor quality and determine tight manufacturing timescales, without having to allow for long shipping times, but it could also mean that they intend to preserve an independent design and technical research ethos that is specifically Finnish in character.
Brand loyalty to Artek in Finland is high but an accountant might simply have suggested trying to replicate that by doing everything on a larger scale elsewhere … it is much better to retain the integrity of Finnish design, making and selling furniture manufactured in Finland from Finnish timber using Finnish skills and expertise.