They say a change is as good as a holiday, and for Antti Juopperi it has certainly proven to be the case. After many years working in the hotel and hospitality industry, Antti decided to pursue new interests and enrolled in a two year metalworking course, and has recently begun designing his own jewelry using different metalworking and crafting techniques.
When we meet to discuss his design venture, Toispual Design, I find Antti’s enthusiasm for his work contagious, and when we part I truly feel like I have learnt a lot. Antti first began designing jewelry when he decided to apply to study metalworking, as he wanted to find a way to test his creative abilities. “I’ve always liked art and visual design but I never had any special skills to do something, so with the school it’s been really cool to find out that I can actually work on my ideas and create a product.”
Originally from Kaarina, Antti has now lived in Turku for close to twenty years. The name of his design venture comes from local Turku dialect, with toispual meaning ‘toinen puoli’ or ‘the other side’. The Aura river has always been the central vein of the city, and Turku locals know that ‘toinen puoli’ always refers to the northern side of the river (where the main market square and market hall can be found). Antti says that he had been playing with a concept of duality when developing his design operation, and ‘toispual’ is able to build on this idea while still paying homage to the city that he calls home.
“Usually when I get an idea I just start sketching it. Then I might forget about something for a while and then go back to it later,” Antti says of his creative process. “So I don’t really have that much of a structured process- it’s more about what interests me at that moment. Also if I want to try new materials it might affect the process a little bit.”
The art of metalworking requires a great deal of skill and knowledge, and Antti’s products exemplify this. He has brought along some of his designs to our meeting, and each of them is eye-catchingly creative. Antti draws inspiration from naturally-occurring shapes and various pop culture references. “I first got the idea for this stick pendant from the Blair Witch Project,” he explains as he motions to one necklace with a pendent that resembles a construction of twigs, “but I think the Blair Witch figure was maybe a bit too literal. I usually like to use some shapes and ideas that are not necessarily a direct copy, so I adapted it to make my own design.”
Also among the collection are a pendant cast from a pistachio shell and a beautiful titanium brooch with an electric blue colouring. During our discussion I learn a lot about the different properties of various metals, as Antti explains about the ways in which titanium and other metals react to heating and other chemical processes. He enjoys experimenting, especially with heat colouring, in his work, and lately has been using electrical currents in a process known as anodising.
“I’m not sure if I’m on a police list at the moment,” Antti laughs, explaining how he Googled local places to buy hydrochloric acid, ammonium and other chemicals needed for certain metalworking processes. Currently Antti works mainly from a small workbench in his living room, which places some limits on his creative practices. “It’s not really ideal. A complete room for it would be nice. For example now when I’m doing soldering, I have a fire alarm in the living room and I just keep setting it off too often. I hope I’m not worrying my neighbours. But otherwise I can do almost everything at home except the casting.”
During his education, Antti spent four months interning with FabLab in Iceland and he fills me in on all the possibilities of 3D printing. His internship was a very educational experience for him, and he has gone on to incorporate this new technology in his design practices. “It was really cool to be able to integrate that with the more traditional handicrafts and use that as a different kind of tool,” Antti explains.
With the local library (Turun Kaupunginkirjasto) offering free 3D printing and Kaarina-based business Diacast making the casting process easier, Antti is thankfully still able to bring a lot of his designs to life. He hopes that the future will bring new opportunities to learn and try new things. “At the moment Toispual is just a side thing. I would really like to get into professional jewelry crafting, that’s my goal at the moment.”
Having seen his work, knowledge and enthusiasm first-hand, I have no doubt that Antti and his Toispual Design have great things ahead.