2018 Residency NOV–DEC

Designer Jenni Väänänen engages in a dialogue with her materials

 Samuji Resort 2018 collection. Photo: Heli Blåfield.

Samuji Resort 2018 collection. Photo: Heli Blåfield.

Jenni Väänänen, our designer-in-residence November – December 2018, has been responsible for Finnish design house Samuji’s pre-collections since 2015. During her time in New York she will focus on finding new ways of incorporating sustainability in the core of the Samuji brand.

 For the Samuji Resort 2018 collection, Väänänen found inspiration from Finnish sculptress Laila Pullinen (1933-2915); not only from the artist’s large-scale stone and copper sculptures, but also her presence and the way she worked. Photo: Heli Blåfield.

For the Samuji Resort 2018 collection, Väänänen found inspiration from Finnish sculptress Laila Pullinen (1933-2915); not only from the artist’s large-scale stone and copper sculptures, but also her presence and the way she worked. Photo: Heli Blåfield.

Jenni Väänänen originally started her career designing phones and computers, but the transition to designing clothes was not as radical as one might think. After all, the Samuji pre-collection clothes are designed according to the same principles as our most important everyday tools: they are minimalistic, practical and functional.


“When I design, I always have a range of women in my mind, a collage of people. The collection we are currently working on is based on real life situations and there is a sense of authenticity in the background.”


Despite the timelessness and simplicity of her clothes, Väänänen often draws inspiration from poetic sources. Finnish artist Laila Pullinen and author Tove Jansson are among the muses of her previous collections, and one collection was based on the tranquil mood and harmonius colors of Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi’s works. In a way, Väänänen also considers the materials as her muses.



 The Samuji 2017 Resort collection explored the idea of resort and the luxurious lifestyle associated with it. Väänänen proposed that a simpler life and reconnection to nature might in fact be the height of luxury in today’s world. Finnish writer and artist Tove Jansson (1914-2001), with her ascetic summer cottage in the Gulf of Finland, was a role model. Photo: Aleksi Niemelä.

The Samuji 2017 Resort collection explored the idea of resort and the luxurious lifestyle associated with it. Väänänen proposed that a simpler life and reconnection to nature might in fact be the height of luxury in today’s world. Finnish writer and artist Tove Jansson (1914-2001), with her ascetic summer cottage in the Gulf of Finland, was a role model. Photo: Aleksi Niemelä.

“I really like the idea of having a dialogue with the materials. The material tells what it is meant for and how to treat it.”




Materials and technologies are also at the center of the discussion about the future of fashion – and Väänänen’s aims to develop the Samuji brand towards an even more sustainable direction. She is interested in the current imbalance between the different time cycles in fashion: we use materials that are slow to grow and decompose, but consume them at an extremely fast speed.


“The mass fashion industry as we know it is breaking at the moment and I hope that the industry will develop towards more diverse operational models.”

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