Inspired by elements of nature and the Finnish-American culture, KAMPPINEN is committed to art + design for the home with sustainable materials and natural dyes. Dyeing by hand is a wonderful art that takes much time and patience – and a willingness to embrace what the dyes decide to give. It comes with the understanding that all hand-dyed pieces are one-of-a-kind and contain a bit of surface design variation in the cloth. This should be considered character, and it is what makes each piece unique.
About the designer:
I was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, near the shores of Lake Superior. I am a 3rd generation American Finn, and grew up immersed in nature and within a strong Finnish community. My childhood years were spent playing in the woods and learning from my family – weaving rugs, sewing clothes, knitting, building, and woodworking were all commonplace, as this practical knowledge, plus capable hands and resourcefulness, equals survival in the rural U.P.
As a child, I decided I wanted to be an artist. I enjoyed doing anything creative. Yet, I was also fairly skilled in science. College was greatly encouraged, and it was in high school that I concluded that art should remain a hobby, and that science would be the more sensible field to pursue.
I initially attended and graduated from Michigan Technological University with a B.A. in Clinical Laboratory Science. But, after working 2 years in a hospital laboratory, I decided to go back to school – this time for art. I received my B.F.A. in Fiber Design from Finlandia University in Hancock, Michigan, intending to transition to fiber arts. Whilst dabbling for several years as a fiber artist, I continued to work as a Medical Laboratory Scientist, most notably in Cellular Therapy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and in Molecular Genetics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. In 2015, I left the laboratory behind, and began to pursue art and design full time.
KAMPPINEN is the name of my great-great grandparents who emigrated to the U.P. from Finland in the late 1800s. I use this name to label my work because to me, it represents the determination and resilience, passed down to me, from the Motherland.
-Heidi Wiitanen for KAMPPINEN
Photos by Hannah Messinger