Clothing designer Anna Ruohonen received this year's Kaj Franck Design Prize, one of the most notable design prizes in Finland. Named after Kaj Franck (1911 – 1989), one of the greatest Finnish designers, the prize is awarded by the Design Forum Finland and the prize money of 10 000 € is donated by the Finnish Fair Foundation.
Anna Ruohonen is a fashion designer living and working in Paris, France, where she founded her label, Anna Ruohonen Paris, in 1997. At the beginning, she made clothes (not "fashion", she emphasises) in the traditional way: designing, making prototypes, selling the collection, and producing it.
As the competition with big brands and lifestyle shops grew, it was increasingly hard to keep up, being a small label. However, she decided to capitalize on the advantages: a small company is more agile, faster in its operations and able to establish a personal contact with its customers. The whole concept was changed: now everything was to be custom-made and upon demand only.
This principle is the basis of the company until today. Anna Ruohonen's Petite Maison de Couturiere, her tiny shop-cum-atelier in Paris, designed by her husband, architect Pekka Littow, only features the prototypes of her designs. Each customer selects the design, which will then be tailored to their measurements. This process takes an average of 2 to 4 days. If the piece is from Anna Ruohonen's Black Classics collection, customers will be able to get a new one made, when the old garment is worn out. Black Classics are timeless and always part of Ruohonen's seasonal collections.
This type of production is very cost-effective, as nothing is made without a pre-order. This means there are also no samples, no extra stock and no sales of out-of-fashion items either. Ecological considerations are increasingly important to Anna Ruohonen, as she is very aware of the problems of the global fashion industry.
Her uncompromising way of working, strong design skills and her unique style were the main reasons why the jury selected Anna Ruohonen as the recipient of this year’s Kaj Franck Design Prize. With the prize, Design Forum Finland wishes to highlight designer Kaj Franck's principles of good design: functional, democratic and of high quality, solving practical challenges and opening up new business opportunities.
For more information, follow this link: http://www.designforum.fi/prizes/kaj_franck/2017