This week, I was saddened to learn of the passing of Kaija Aarikka, one of Finland’s most celebrated jewelry designers. Her forward-thinking designs are some of my very favourite of all Nordic jewelry. I’ve been lucky to have several pieces pass through Hopea’s collection and I always wonder at the imagination and skill they display. Her work is joyful and exuberant; I can only imagine the person behind it was much the same.
Kaija studied textile design at the Institute of Industrial Art and first began to design jewelry in the late 1950s. Her work during this early period consisted of necklaces of silver tubes and small wooden cubes. In the early 1960s, she moved onto her iconic pieces constructed with birch balls and wire. In the mid-60s, she developed her silver design jewelry.
Her pieces are of pure imagination and abstraction with no room for naturalism. Inspired by the jingling rings of traditional Lapland, she created her jewelry to include moving parts which would sound to enhance the vividness of the pieces. To her, jewelry was meant to be worn and the pieces were executed accordingly in a dramatically large scale. She was also quite inspired by space travel in the late 1960s. These were pieces that helped define her long standing approach which employed reduced and even austere forms with large, smooth surfaces of silver. All pieces were handmade until the 1970s, when she began casting small pieces. Her achievements were remarkable and in her lifetime Kaija turned her one-woman shop into an considerable enterprise that is now carried on by her daughter Pauliina Aarikka.
1 / Necklace and bracelet from 1963. via Jewelry in Finland, Designmuseo, 2013
2 / Bracelets from the early 1970s via Jewelry in Finland, Designmuseo, 2013
3 / Bracelet from the early 1970s. (Hopea)
4 / Necklace from 1974. (Hopea)
5 / Modelled rings from the late 1960s.
6 / Necklace designed by Alpo Jääskeläinen for Aarikka’s studio in 1969. (Hopea)