The first time I came across Klaus Haapaniemi’s stylized mystical imagery I stopped dead in my tracks. Something about this artist’s work seemed very familiar yet elusive, like a memory fragment recalled from a dream. This illustrator’s work is so unexpected in the grand scheme of designer fabrics and room stylings that you can’t help but sit up and take notice.
With content sourced from Finnish folk tales, Haapaniemi’s work appears inspired by the unlikely combination of Hieronymus Bosch, William Morris and folk needlepoint, with art nouveau hovering overhead. This Finnish designer, now based in London, creates for his enterprise Klaus Haapaniemi & Co. sinuous and stunning designs featuring fantastical animals for soft furnishings, draperies and upholstery.
A richness of colour celebrates ranges of vibrant hues while his subjects are playful or deliciously moody. It’s not for everyone to incorporate these fabrics into their interior design scheme, but imagine a couple of these pillows amongst coordinated solid coloured pillows on a sofa, or a window treatment that frames a large living room window. Add a piece of Haapaniemi to your space and you immediately add drama and interest.
Bees Blanket Blue, shown here, tips to traditional block print style themes. While Haapaniemi has injected energy into the home textile market, his influence and creativity ranges far and wide, with an extensive volume of design work including an opera set, fabrics for Diesel, Levis, Marimekko and Dolce & Gabbana, tableware for Tanssi and glass art.
His striking installations for Japan’s Isetan Shinjuku department store in Tokyo would not seem out of place in Alice in Wonderland. Here he conjures up chubby hedgehogs and an insect like creature who appears suited up for a Venetian masquerade.
Haapaniemi’s book jacket designs for Patrick Suskind classics recall Victorian and William Morris inspired imagery, lush with drama and movement.
For Christmas, Isetan Tokyo dedicated its windows and interior displays to a magical world under the theme Finding Wonder Christmas. I think of the magical art found in Tim Burton films when I look at this series, however the theme and art is pure Haapaniemi.
Habitat’s window in Paris showcases a red and white, streamlined and striking concept.
My favourite character of all is his dancing fox, displayed in a scene you could imagine brought to life in a musical adaptation of Cinderella where they’d make excellent footmen. Or, of course, on a decorative set of plates and mugs as the dancing fox can be found in tableware as well as on pillows and other textiles. Look for this talented artist’s work in design magazines and on products in North America as his reputation continues to build.