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We're very pleased to present to you the first Artek Friends blog feature. Artek Friends are an exclusive group of our peers who share our commitment to quality, beauty, and functionality. By featuring these kindred spirits, we hope to increase knowledge and appreciation in the Americas of modern design and Alvar Aalto's philosophy: "Beauty is the harmony of purpose and form." 

First, we'd like to introduce you to Shibui

Shibui is a Japanese word referring to an aesthetic of simple, unobtrusive beauty, and these are the principles that drive the work of award-winning co-founders Constantinos Hoursoglou and Athanasios Babalis. Their products prize depth over ostentation and strive for a humble, controlled quality and timeless, functional design.

Image via Eternal Optimist.

Constantinos Hoursoglou (pictured above) established his Athens-based personal studio, chd industrial & product design in September 2002, and has been active since in various fields of design. Now located in Geneva, the quality of work produced by chd is validated by a series of international design awards like a red-dot in 2011, participation in the St. Etienne Design Biennale and more. Chd has worked with and for clients including Sony, Prada, Issey Miyake, Tommy Hilfiger and Guzzini among many others.

Athanasios Babalis's professional career started in London as a freelance designer and continued in New York where he worked for seven years for companies such as Dimensional Media Associates Inc. and Dakota Jackson Inc. In 2003 he returned to Thessaloniki where he opened his own design studio. He has been recognized through many awards and honors including the Green Good Design Award (USA, 2011). 

The pair launched their collaborative brand in January of 2014, as a reaction to the growing trend of "throwaway" culture. Their products allow environmental considerations and natural forms to dictate choices of material, and all products are handcrafted by artisans throughout Europe for consistently excellent quality and minimal waste.

Take a look at some of the items featured in the online store, all made from natural materials. 

I ntegrity, sustainability, and beautiful simplicity: these are the values of Shibui.

The apeiro wall hook is as smart as is it elegant. 

Links M is one of three modular candlesticks available through the collection.

Function inspiring form: the Staphylos fruit bowl is modeled on the shape of what it holds. 

What do you think? We hope you enjoyed meeting Shibui as much as we enjoyed introducing them. Check back here at the blog for more from Artek Friends!

A Promising New Friendship

This year, Artek was thrilled to announce our first collaboration with esteemed industrial designer Hella Jongerius. Since graduating the Eindhoven Design Academy (Netherlands) in 1993, Jongerius and her Berlin-based studio, Jongeriuslab, have become synonymous with innovative and thoughtful creativity. Since 2012, she has served as the Art Director for colors, textiles, and surfaces at Artek's collaborator Vitra. Her work has been featured numerous museums and galleries including the Cooper Hewitt National Museum (NYC), Design Museum (London), MoMA (NYC), Galerie KREO (Paris), and Moss Gallery (NYC), distinguished by "the special way she fuses industry and craft, high and low tech, tradition and the contemporary." Her work is also marked by her interest in the intersection of industrial processes and handicrafts, exploring how the handmade can be reinterpreted through modern methods. 

Hella Jongerius for Artek

In her work with Artek, Jongerius had the ambition to soften some of Alvar Aalto's most iconic designs: Armchair 400, Armchair 401, and the beloved Stool 60.  

She re-imagined the classics in new colors and textiles, endowing them with new playfulness. 

Here, Armchair 400 upholstered in Borders. This textile celebrates the beauty of edges, referencing an old tradition of connecting small bands with embroidery to create larger fabrics. 

Behind the scenes: Jongerius plays with new color combinations for Armchair 401.

The color blocking technique breaks up the long lines of the chair, a refreshing take on the well-known piece.

Stool 60 is invigorated with bright new colors. Jongerius introduced walnut and charcoal wood stains to add depth and warmth to the collection.

What do you think of Jongerius' updated designs? You can see more of her work with Artek in the e-boutique here, and learn more about Artek's designers here.


Good design makes our everyday functional and aesthetically pleasing. With a focus on timeless design, authenticity and craftsmanship, Artek lasts a lifetime. Introducing Artek Living, a series profiling the individuals who interact with Artek in their everyday life - in the home, work space, or anywhere at all. 

Who We Are.

Jennifer Krichels is a co-founder of Reclaim NYC.
Visit her website and the Reclaim NYC Instagram.

Jean Lin

Jean Lin is also a co-founder of Reclaim NYC.
Visit her Colony Design Cooperative, her online store and Designer Pages. 

What We Do.

Jean Lin and Jennifer Krichels founded Reclaim NYC to raise money for victims of Hurricane Sandy in November 2012. It has grown to become a powerful grassroots organization that focuses the energy of the American design community on charitable causes. Reclaim NYC has successfully organized three exhibitions that have raised over $40K for charity.

"Artek is really supportive of local design initiatives in New York City. They have a strong design history, but also a finger on the pulse of what's new," says Jennifer.

"They're the kinds of pieces that all designers we work with are inspired by - not only the design itself but also the innovation in manufacturing and use of materials" says Jean.

Our Artek

Jean and Jennifer are also best friends - and a lot of fun. We photographed them in Artek's New York office, giving them free reign to put together the furniture and accessories their own way. The centerpiece of the shoot was Yrjo Kukkapuro's 1964 Karuselli lounge chair

Explore more stories of Artek Living at the blog. Share your own photos of Artek in the home with #ArtekLiving on social media.