Anna-Reetta Väänänen

Specialized in Jewelry Design.

Anna-Reetta Väänänen

About Anna-Reetta Väänänen

Anna-Reetta Väänänen makes her nature and story inspired jewelry design at the countryside. Her jewelry brand Anna's Darling is not the most common one because of her methods, style and location. This 37 years old designer has started her career by accident. She was supposed to be a cartoonist or anything else exept a farmer. But then she felled in love with jewelry and later with a farmer. As a brand Anna's Darling reflects the owners own mission to create better and more meaningfull jewelry. To consume wisely and only things that last time and can be prepared. Classic lines, precious metals and new design guarantees the jewelrys long life. By combining old goldsmiths tecniques and 3d printing the jewelry get their form. By using the Upper-Savo countryside locations benefits it all gets a unique looks and feeling. Clean waters, forests and field are allowed to show in the jewelry. Also their dairy farm beauties, cows, give their own twist for the brand and keep the designers feet tighly in the soil and traditions.

  • Winner of 2 A' Design Awards.
  • Specialized in Jewelry Design.
  • Original Design.
  • Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Jewelry
Waves Necklace

Waves Necklace

Jewelry Design

Sarah Ring

Sarah Ring

Jewelry Design


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Interview with Anna-Reetta Väänänen

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I was supposed to be a cartoonist. I crew up with Belgian classics and Donald Duck. I applied for design school to become a cartoonist but I fell in love with jewelry design. My teacher encouraged me to continue with jewelry and after fifteen years I still agree with him. My hands and precious metals seemed to belong together. I understood the material and was able to give it incredible forms.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
I started my own business in 2012 Kuopio, Finland. I worked in a small jewelry boutique as a saleswoman and I just wanted to do more. During my career I have been working in several tasks in the field of jewelry from making to preparing. I have also been a jewelry design lecturer for a few years. I think this gives me a comprehensive knowledge of jewelry in several points of view. By having my own business offers a great platform to use the knowledge and make the best of it. My workshop in Sonkajärvi, Finland includes a small workshop and design boutique where I sell Finnish Design. I want to support other designers and offer sustainably made items to local people.
What is "design" for you?
Good design means multiple things to me. It’s a matter of visual beauty, artisan skills, customer and user based design, sustainable manufacturing and products lifecycle thinking.
What kinds of works do you like designing most?
I like to design usable jewelry that stand out. My design has to tell a story or have meaning.
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
Waves jewelry set was one of my favourites. Designing process just feels right when you are making your best piece. Idea story, form and the flow just click. After the moment you lay your hands on the finished product you just know it’s perfect.
What was the first thing you designed for a company?
I started by making unique jewelry directly to customers in a small goldsmiths store in 2009. Those two years were challenging for me as a beginner. All the lessons learned in design school had to be transferred in to action. Every customer was a new challenge for a young designer. I had to learn new techniques quickly and visualize the customer needs and then make the jewelry to fit the needs. I also repaired customers old jewelry during that time and it taught me technically.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
I love all precious metals. Silver and gold are my favorites. Most of my jewelry is made by lost wax casting. Sometimes with prototypes I start with wax which is easily molded. Some jewelry I design with 3D program and pass the file onwards to be 3D printed or CNC carved.
When do you feel the most creative?
Creativity doesn’t ask the time or place. Good ideas can happen anywhere. Though the most often ideas come from the surrounding nature. The best place to make the ideas in to concrete things is my own workshop and my own table. My goldsmiths table is a big mess with all the tools but it gives me the feeling of control and harmony.
Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
I try to focus in several aspects of design when I’m making my jewelry. Jewelry has to please the eye offcourse. Jewelry has to be beautifull from every angle but also usable. If the jewelry is difficult to wear maybe there is something to change. Visual features have to tell a story so the jewelry is not just a pretty little thing.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
It’s never just one feeling on my mind when designing a jewelry. It’s a pack of emotions that are included in to you subject. I seldom design anything cold. It has to have a bright and loving side in it.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
During the design process I feel all the emotions from excitement and confidence to frustration and devastation. After the final piece of jewelry is in my hands, I feel joy and pride. That’s the phase what I want to share with the world. This is kind of rough but it’s rewarding.
What makes a design successful?
Successful design is an answer to all the problems you tried to answer during the design process. Some might say it’s a matter of sales but I think it’s more than that.
When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
I consider quality novelty usability and visual features to be the first thing when judging design.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
A designer must consider the whole life cycle of the item from designing until the disposal. The possibilities must be considered carefully to make the designs life as long as possible. I believe in “better choices and less often” as a consumer. That is something I look for from all the items I make, sell or buy.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
In the future design might go in to more personal direction and more digital. Small businesses make their way out with the digital channels. Consumers appreciate that something is made only for them and by someone special. I hope the jewelry business overall finds its way to more recycled material.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
My last exhibition was a part of Design Week Kuopio 2020 event. I was one of the local participants from all fields of design and arts in this area. I am hoping to have my 10 years as a Designer at 2022 when my company turns 10 years old. It might be a good time to gather all the material in to one exhibition from sketches to final jewelry.
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
Nature is the biggest inspiration for me considering the form. But the idea and the soul of design is in human beings and feelings. Without a story there is no need of form.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I moved back to my home village Sonkajärvi 7 years ago from the city. I spent my childhood at a farm I have inherited a love towards nature, animals and countryside. Forests fields and lakes are part of my everyday life. We have a dairy farm we take care of and everything related to that gives me perspective to the surrounding world. Hard working is a must when we are talking about design or farming. I might say my home and roots shows in my design.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
Design processes follow some kind of a routine from idea to the final jewelry. I spend the longest time on the thought or the vision I am trying to visualize. My questions that lead the design are: Why do I want to do this? How would I like it to appear? Who is my customer? What is the new I am creating? Then combining idea to one another it starts to get its form. Testing construction and making models take big part as well. Manufacturing, used techniques weight make the cost construction and are also part of the process.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
I am not a fan of buying design only because it is labelled as design. We have a hundred years old traditional Finnish girder house decorated with old furniture and items. Everything holds a piece of history either it is received as a gift, bought for a need or self-made item. I value our ancestors good sense of usability and craftsman skills.
Can you describe a day in your life?
My normal day starts with a date with our cows. After a morning coffee I go to the barn to clean and feed our calves. After feeding our family I head to my workshop and open my design shop. My daily bases include all the normal entrepreneurs work from customer service to billing. There are days I spend fully on designing new jewelry and days I spend making it. After the day with jewelry I go home and try to find some time for my hobbies, family and fresh air. The best balance comes from combining it all together.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
By trying and trying again you will find your own style and way to work. Trust me, you know when it’s good.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
It can be hard for beginners to find funding in jewelry design business. It’s also important to have enough human recourses if needed. The best as being a designer is the freedom of making your mark in human lives and the responsibility that follows from that.
What is your "golden rule" in design?
My golden rule in design is to follow my instincts and listen to people. I make my first pieces of jewelry with my own style and follow my own processes. Then I show the prototype my friends and some of my customers. I make the form and the main idea but the others give the ideas to make it even better. I listen to their suggestions and make changes if needs.
What skills are most important for a designer?
It’s important to be sensitive in a way. Not everything is always said out loud in words. I consider material knowledge and form giving skills to be important as well.
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
Sometimes I over think things. Then it’s best to just start doing a model in wax or metal. My best reminder of the time is a growing list of customers orders.
How long does it take to design an object from beginning to end?
The jewelry design process can very much differ in its length. Some pieces come together in weeks and some pieces take a few years. It depends on the task. I have multiple processes coming at the same time.
What is the most frequently asked question to you, as a designer?
Where do you get your ideas from? How do you make your living by jewelry in such a small place like Sonkajärvi?
What was your most important job experience?
I have been a cleaner, baby sitter, waitress, bartender, saleswoman, goldsmith, lecturer and a farmer. Every job has given me something. The is no better or worst. It has been a process of growth and learning.
Who are some of your clients?
I have clients all over Finland. Mainly private jewelry users who like my style and way to think about jewelry. My customers often share the same value base as I do.
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
I enjoy design that can last time and can be reused. Good design fits you perfectly and feels like it’s made for you.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
In big scale I hope my future holds a long career in the field of jewelry and design. I hope I can offer good design to a lot of people and make their lives better in some way. Maybe the next concrete steps are to get my company more in to peoples knowledge and get my design in exhibitions and to do co-work with bigger companies.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I work on my own but I would be nothing without my lovely customers and friends who give their help to me when designing new jewelry.
How can people contact you?
My contacts can be found from my companies website: www.annasdarling.fi

Extended Interview with Anna-Reetta Väänänen

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I got interested in design as a young adult. I have grown in an environment where usability, function and beauty are the main reasons for getting artefacts. A good understanding of form giving and the love towards arts comes from my childhood hobbies. I fell in love with jewelry design meanwhile my studies in Kuopio Academy of Design Savonia University of applied sciences. I think I knew I wanted to work with arts and have a creative job, but the full understanding of design and especially jewelry design grew during my studies. I have a degree in product design (jewelry and metalwork) (BA) and business and administration (MA). As a designer who works also as an entrepreneur is good to combine knowledge from both of those fields. I have started my design career from jewelry factory and after that I improved my skills by working as a goldsmith and a saleswoman in a jewelry store. I have gathered knowledge from all fields of jewelry, I think. It’s a whole package and not just a slice of it.
How did you become a designer?
I wanted to create beautiful and meaningful jewelry that last time. I also enjoy working with my hands and imagination.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
It was more or less my destiny to become a designer. I never planned it.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
In the future I want to design jewelry. But I would like to collaborate with other fields as well like bag design.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
I want to encourage young designer to explore all kinds of interesting sides of life. Every single experience grows your knowledge and improves your skills in design. I think open minded thinking can make a difference.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
A skill to make timeless, time lasting ang high quality design that is also functional and beautiful more than once.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
I evaluate the greatness of design with the number of times I use or could use the product or design. It’s not enough just to wear or use something only once. If the appearance of the item still touches you after years, it’s great design.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
Value of good design can be measured in many ways, not only in money. Sometimes the value can be personal, cultural or even environmental. To invest in good design is like sending a message to designers to continue their work with improving our world.
What is your day to day look like?
I would design jewelry to all of those who have a beautiful story to tell.
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
My dream project would be making an exclusive an nordic style jewelry collection together with Dior. I admire their style and skills in jewelry making.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
My secret ingredient in design is love. I’m such a sentimental fool that it almost makes me laugh. I add emotions and love in to everything. I want and can tell stories with my design.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
I admire Finnish jewelry legend Björn Weckströms open-minded way to create items. And I also admire shoe designer Minna Parikka’s way of branding.
What is your biggest design work?
I can not choose the best from my favorites but I think I like Harri Koskinen's K chair. I find it a great combination of traditional Finnish weaving technique and modern design.
Who is your favourite designer?
My favorite is Waves jewelry collection. It has that something. Weight, looks and wearability all in one.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
Listening to customers and customer segments feedback is important. I also find very important to improve technical skills by training.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
I would probably be a graphic designer. It’s really hard to consider another profession because I have really lost my soul to jewelry.
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
I define design as a combination of information, knowledge, feeling, appearance and the brand all in one.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
I have to thank my family and friends from all the support they have given me through all these years. I admire many people and owe then a lot from their kind words and encouragement. My teacher from Kuopio Design Academy once told me he believed I was going to be great in design. Perhaps that is something to remember. I hope all talents get support from someone they look up to.

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