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Student Showcase Archive

Riku Toivonen

MA work

MA work

Kipinä – a spark

Kipinä, meaning 'a spark' in Finnish, explores primitive and historical ways of making and controlling fire, and how those methods and interactions can be brought into modern lighting. Fire needs constant care, and so do these interactive objects. Through these experiments I'm exploring the controlling of electrical light through unusual, but intuitive and playful ways. The product family consists of four different approaches and prototypes, all inspired by fire.

Fire has played a big role in my life. I’ve spent most of my summers on a small island in an ascetic Finnish summer house with no modern comforts, like electricity or running water. Fire, for me, means a source of light, energy for cooking, heating the house, or boiling water for cleaning. Today, when everything works so obviously and effortlessly, interacting with objects, in this case lights, creates a bond between the objects and user. To me, it’s a celebration of light.

A candle:

In this approach I'm using a candle, more precisely the flame of a candle, as a switch and timer for electrical light. When the candle is lit the light is on. Turning the light down is accomplished by blowing the candle out. A candle measures time and works as a visual narrative to recognise how much time is left. It also works as a reminder to turn the light off when leaving the house, encouraging us to lower electric over-consumption.

A flint:

Fire is a chemical reaction requiring some input of energy – a spark or a spasm of heat to begin the process. With this approach a spark will activate and switch the light on. In the beginning of the fire making process, blowing oxygen into the fire is often needed. Increasing the brightness and extinguishing the electrical light is done by blowing on it, simulating the natural behaviour of extinguishing a candle flame.

A hand drill:

Fire can be created through friction by rapidly grinding pieces of wood against each other. By rubbing your hands together around the spindle, downward pressure and spinning creates potential heat, and the glowing coal can be used for making actual fire. Turning the electrical light on is accomplished by spinning the wooden dowel. Electrical light will react to the speed of the spindle. When you have reached a certain level, the light is on. After a certain amount of time, the same interaction needs to be repeated, or the light will slowly dim down.


A match:

Modern matches were invented in the early 19th century. The interaction is similar to a flint, but instead of the flint and steel, striking a match against the side of the matchbox will create fire. Compared to a flint and steel, matches are a relatively safe option to create fire. A match is a wall switch for controlling general lights or pendant lights. Turning the light on is done by striking a match and adjusting the brightness is accomplished by blowing.



  • MA Degree


    School of Design


    MA Design Products, 2019



  • In my practice I try to explore and question the norms of human behaviour and how we interact with objects and products in everyday life. My goal is to solve the problems of everyday life with curiosity and a touch of humour – thereby making life better. In my product design, I aspire to create functional, aesthetic, as well as long-lasting and timeless products, which incorporate considerations to today's challenges. Finnish culture, as well as my background as a wood artisan, can be seen in my design.

  • Degrees

  • BA Furniture Design, Institute of Design, Lahti University of Applied Sciences, Lahti, Finland, 2016; Wood Artisan, Luksia, Espoo, Finland, 2012
  • Experience

  • Design developer, Aito Projects, Helsinki, 2016–2017; Set carpenter, Helsinki City Theatre, Helsinki, 2011–2012, 2014; Product designer/furniture designer, intern, Studio Ripatti, Helsinki, 2015; Cabinet maker, Helsingin lasi & Puu, Helsinki, 2010
  • Exhibitions

  • Milan Design Week, Ventura Projects, RCA Design Products, Milan, 2019; Isku, Stockholm furniture fair, Stockholm, 2019; Work in Progress Show, Royal College of Art, London, 2018; Imm Cologne, Pure Talents Contest, Germany, 2019; Habitare Furniture Fair, Fhink, Helsinki, 2018; The Future is _____, Royal College of Art, London, 2018; Milan Design Week, RCA, Milan, 2018; Milan Design Week, Fhink, Salone Satellite, Milan, 2018; Work in Progress Show, Royal College of Art, London, 2018; Habitare Furniture Fair, Protoshop, Helsinki, 2017; 12.madeinhungary + 5.MeeD Design Without Borders, Budapest, 2017; Habitare Furniture Fair, Ecodesign, Helsinki, 2016; Habitare Furniture Fair, Wired to be inspired, Helsinki, 2016; MI 16, Kattilahalli, Helsinki, 2016; No Sauna – Burning Stereotypes Ventura Lambrate, Milan, 2016; Pro Puu, Vedellä leikattua, Lahti, Finland, 2016; Habitare Furniture Fair, Muotsikka, Helsinki, 2015; Helsinki Design Week, L3 Satamamakasiini, Helsinki, 2015; MI 15, Puuta ja Muuta, Wood and Mood Puu- ja Biomessut, Finland, 2015; OHO Gallery, Riku Toivonen, Protoja, Helsinki, 2015; OHO Gallery, Riku Toivonen, Protoja, Helsinki, 2015; MI 15, KOE15, Kattilahalli, Helsinki, 2015; MI14, Helsinki Design Week 2014, Helsinki, 2014; MI14, Suomen Kädentaidot, Finland, 2014
  • Awards

  • Runner-up, Small Space Furniture Award, 2019; Maarten Van Severen Chair Masterclass, Ghent, Belgium, 2019