Niilo Kalsi, CEO of Opilion Oy
It started in grandfather’s workshop
Wood has always been my favorite material. When I was boating, of course the boats had to be made of wood. The hobby of boating led me to learn to carve wooden boats. It was pleasant, but a lifetime study would have been required to become a master.
However, the love for making things by hand continued. I made furniture and children’s toys. The beautiful Finnish birch plywood fit my hand best. It is durable and easy to work with and gives room for creativity. I wanted to give this little-noticed, excellent material the credit it deserves.
Plywood is ecological and saves nature, and so it must be worked respecting the same principles: saving material and energy.
While working in developing countries, I had learned that even with few resources you can achieve a lot. I like reduced surfaces and simple but purposeful structures. At the same time, I admire the unrestrained playfulness, Gaudi-like “art nouveau” rejoicing. I think it all comes together in Opilion furniture.
Their colors and shapes have expressiveness combined with Scandinavian elegance.
From a wood craftsman to a designer
I’ve always been a hands-on person. The choice of profession was not clear, but both options were related to wood: gardener and carpenter. My first training was as a wood craftsman, which gave me confidence in handling wood. I started as an entrepreneur in 2012 under the business name MUOTOISA design, based in Pieksämäki.
The activity expanded to industrial design when I graduated as a designer from Savonia University of Applied Sciences in 2018. My services include product design, service design, and 3D modeling and visualization. My company is involved in the Trusted partner program and as a service provider of Business Finland’s innovation voucher.
Product development with Opilion’s furniture has been pleasant and interesting. In the early furniture prototypes made by Niilo Kalsi, I was immediately attracted by the ecology and soft angular shapes. In product development, I have worked on functionality and stability, and refined the form in a Scandinavian direction.
I consider myself more of a practical entrepreneur than an artist. There is a little world healer in me: designing short-lived trendy products is not my thing, but I want to contribute to the well-being of people and nature with my work. I can implement these values in cooperation with Opilion.
Heidi Harmanen, designer
Opilion’s roots are in the sawmill community of Iisvesi
Opilion’s story began in the village of Kolikkoinmäki in Iisvesi, located on Suonenjoki. It is an idyllic residential area for sawmill workers built on the hillside. Niilo Kalsi built a forge there to make boats and furniture.
The idea of a new kind of furniture series was born, which was named Opilion. The workshop developed into Iisveden veistämö Oy, whose current name is Opilion Oy.
The story of Opilion furniture tells how a beautiful and multi-hued environment makes creativity bloom.
– I believe that Opilion furniture brings inspiration to its customers in the same way, Niilo Kalsi said.
to look for sustainable solutions, use the material effectively and tackle even impossible challenges.
beautiful, functional and durable furniture that delights and inspires its users for decades.