Annika Lahti is the designer and owner of Aikasan Jewellery. Finland-based Annika Lahti hand makes precious metal jewellery. She has a love of butterflies, nature, archaeology, Viking folklore and elves. Which results in unusual yet striking and modern shapes that permeates throughout her art form design.
Her jewellery is of exquisite quality, with every detail and finish thought about meticulously. You can visually see why she calls herself a perfectionist.
Annika’s jewellery really stands out from other designers at the moment, probably because of the fact that her subject matter and influences are so different to current trends. Using older traditional symbols and emblems with a modern twist really creates something unique. The fact that she uses very polished silver makes the designs radiate even more.
I would highly recommend buying Annika’s jewellery as it can be worn for any occasion day or night. And a beautiful way to treat yourself or a loved one.
Annika was kind enough to do a Q&A with me. She chatted about her work, jewellery and design, and much more.
Tell us about yourself, and your love affair with Jewellery.
I first tried jewellery making while I was on a one year art course in Finland. Immediately I took to it, and I happened to have more talent for metalwork than painting or drawing. Subsequently, I applied for a place to study at Kent Institute of Art and Design in Rochester, England. Spending the next three years on their course Silversmithing, Goldsmithing and Jewellery Design.
I soon discovered that I much prefer the actual making to the design process. After I finished the course I got a job with Aurum Jewellers in Worthing, West Sussex. It was my ideal job, really; I sat at the bench and made one-off pieces that my boss designed. It was great! I learned a lot about all aspects of running a business in the three years I was there. The business was really small (the owner + 1-2 employees). Because of this I was able to get involved in all aspects of the work. From management things to dealing with customers and designing pieces upon request.
Unfortunately, something happened in my life that made me want to move back home to my family in Finland. Hence I had to leave my perfect job.
When did you first realise you wanted to make Jewellery as a career?
I never made a conscious decision to become a jeweller, it just sort of happened. The profession suits me really well. Mainly because I’m really meticulous by nature and a true perfectionist, which is probably why I enjoy it so much.
As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from?
My first collection was a set of butterflies. I’ve always loved their natural beauty, so it came easily to me.
I suppose that’s the thing, I draw inspiration from things I find beautiful. I love fantasy, and elves in particular, so my style of designing tends to draw towards that. I’ve made a collection based on two archaeological finds for the local museum (Ålands Museum). And also developing a range for myself as well. I suppose that is my main source of inspiration at the moment – taking finds (particularly from the Viking era) and re-designing them with a modern twist.
How would you describe your designs?
Modern, with an elvish touch.
What is your favourite piece you’ve ever created?
That would have to be when I was an independent jewellery and was given my first commissioned piece to make. It was a Thor’s hammer, and the customer was deliberately vague with directions. Because he wanted it to have as much of “me” in it as possible. I guess it would be creepy if I didn’t mention that the customer is a friend of mine.
We spent some time talking about Viking lore and what it means to him. I also spent a lot of time reading about the different Viking gods and creatures. In the end it became clear to me what symbolism I wanted to use in the piece. Normally I’d make a mock-up piece in copper to show the customer for approval. However, this particular customer wanted to be surprised.
It was a little scary for me to be left with this responsibility. But at the same time it was a good and important opportunity for learning to trust myself. I think that’s what makes this piece special to me.
I put a lot of effort into research for the design, and I found out I enjoyed it. It was really important for me to learn this invaluable lesson. Since, my confidence as a designer has always been pretty weak and needs to be improved.
Personal bequests are now my favourite thing to do; I love getting to know the customer and making something truly special for them.
What are you currently working on?
Right now my biggest project is making pieces for an exhibition that will open in May. The theme is Kalevala (Finnish folklore/fantasy), and I’ve decided to make a couple of big statement pieces. However, I haven’t tackled something quite as big as this since I graduated from University. So I have spent a lot of time planning it all out. A secret dream of mine is to make costume jewellery for sci-fi/fantasy films, so I am enjoy thinking in this larger scale for a change.
What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a jewellery designer?
Hmm. This is a hard question, as everyone’s situation is different. I would probably say that if possible, start your own business on the side of a regular job. This allows you to develop and find your way slowly, without having to worry too much about money.
If you’re throwing yourself into the deep water straight away, ask yourself (and be honest) what your strengths and weaknesses are. Running your own business is so much more than just designing and making jewellery. it can be a bit of a slap in the face if you’re not ready for it.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the things you feel are out of your comfort zone. Use all your contacts, and if you have the means, pay someone else to do the things you hate. Don’t give up when you face your first hurdle; take a deep breath, cry if necessary and then jump it. Then same again. 🙂 Oh, and remember to enjoy your victories! You’ve earned them.