If 2020 was the year of the pivot, then 2021 is the year of the side hustle. After 12 months of stasis and shock, people are making the moves they dreamt of during last year’s upheaval: moving states, going back to uni, starting their own business.
Hannah Veikkanen is one of those people. The designer and maker moved to Melbourne six months before the pandemic with the aim of solidifying her freelance graphic design and branding business. Nearly two years (and 200+ days of lockdown) later, and the creative has drawn on her formal training in textiles to launch a completely different creative business alongside it: textiles brand, Veikkanen.
All by herself from her makeshift home studio in Fitzroy North, Hannah tufts her cushions and artworks by hand. Ahead of Veikkanen’s official launch tomorrow, we asked her absolutely everything about it!
Hi Hannah! Congratulations on Veikkanen. What’s been the lead-up to this point?
From a young age I was always sewing my own clothes (very badly I might add – I don’t know how I was allowed to leave the house wearing those clothes come to think of it), collecting fabrics and buttons, or drawing and painting.
Then I studied a bachelor’s degree in textiles where I was taught predominately weaving, tapestry, and repeat screen printing, as well as art theory and other electives like print media. After uni I ended up going to Shillington and studied a three-month intensive graphic design course, all of which has contributed to and informed my aesthetic and skillset in my personal textiles practice over time.
What is the process of actually making one of your cushions?
It’s quite an involved and hands on process and hard to put a time on it as each design can be quite different.
My design process involves a lot of experimentation with patterns and colour. I like to visualise each design in a dozen or so colour-ways (limited to what colours I am able to find or what’s been produced) before I’m ready to start. Some of my pieces use found materials like salvaged wool from second-hand stores so they contribute their own colours and textures into the design phase. I then stretch a polyester/cotton backing fabric on the frame (unfortunately an all cotton backing fabric isn’t strong enough and won’t get the stretch you need for tufting. I learnt the hard way finding that out).
Each cushion is tufted using a tufting gun which cuts the fibres automatically and loops around the warp or weft of the backing fabric to hold it in place. This needs to get glued after so that they are fixed to the backing fabric as securely as possible.
To actually (and finally) turn it into a cushion I sew each piece with a backing and zipper closure and insert it with a recycled PET bottle filling. I’m hoping this will change down the track as I continue to look for fibre filling that’s both reasonable in price and natural.
Why did you decide to start Veikkanen?
I guess I always knew this was the space I wanted to create in and I have taken somewhat of a roundabout way of getting here. I love that it can really be whatever I want it to be without following a formula or being informed by trends. I saw this quote recently I’m not sure by who – ‘I want to make beautiful things even if nobody cares’. It really resonated with me, and it’s really a lot of what Veikkanen is about.
Veikkanen officially launches tomorrow, Friday October 15th. In addition to regular product drops, Hannah also takes commissions and custom orders from her website here.