Furniture students build across continents with Finnish furniture maker Nikari

Introducing the team designing for Finnish furniture maker firm Nikari. From left: Katrina Ennamorato, Brendon Taylor, Neil Botelho, Allsun Campbell and Duncan McNeil

Introducing the team designing for Finnish furniture maker firm Nikari. From left: Katrina Ennamorato, Brendon Taylor, Neil Botelho, Allsun Campbell and Duncan McNeil


Having the highest GPA in class can bring a student prestige, but it can also bring them added work and responsibility.

The top five final-year students from the Bachelor of Craft and Design (Furniture) program at Sheridan are participating in an international project for Finnish furniture manufacturer Nikari.

Peter Fleming, the furniture studio head for Crafts and Design program, said John Baker of Mjölk, a furniture studio in downtown Toronto, referred Sheridan to Nikari.

Baker already knew of Fleming from his visits to the store.

“I don’t know much about the program at Sheridan, but for me I think they have a great understanding of the fundamentals of craftsmanship. I’ve seen the students’ work. It’s always the highest level. From the ceramics to the furniture programs, it resonates with me.”

Kirsten White, a part-time faculty member at Sheridan, said Nikari contacted Sheridan for a chain-design project.

Aalto University has sent specs for a lounge chair that have been passed along to the grads. They will now take inspiration from the drawing and design a piece of outdoor furniture. The Sheridan creation will then be sent to the university or college next in line.

Remaining participating institutions around the world include: GDUT (Guangdong, China), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Konstfack (Sweden). At the end of the project Nikari will produce all furniture from the submitted designs and display the pieces at a furniture expo in 2015.

Graduating student Brendon Taylor said the other four schools involved in this project are industrial design programs. They’re producing drawing and computer renderings, and that’s what Sheridan received from Helsinki.

“Because a lot of our strengths are building mock-ups and then building the actual initial prototype, our designs always evolve during that process. So we will actually be producing a first prototype,” said Taylor, 28.

The information from building the mock-up and prototype helps take out the kinks in a prototype.

“It tells about things like the edges are smooth, if your feet can touch the ground etc. to see if we can make improvements in the design,” said Neil Botelho, 28, a third-year student. Taylor said they will be using white oak as specified by Nikari.

“The best available for outdoor seating in Helsinki is white oak. It’s common in Canada we have some experience working with it.”

According to Duncan McNeil, 34, final-year student said designers need to keep in mind that “it is an outdoor [piece], so it has to be weather-resistant, resistant to drainage and seepage on the sides.”

Allsun Campbell, who graduates this year, said they still haven’t heard back from Nikari about which design has been approved. The five students came up with three designs each and six of those were forwarded to Nikari.

“We want to base the chair around the Canadian muskoka chair,” said Campbell, 27.

Katrina Ennamorato, a third-year student, said this project will last beyond their graduating month.

“I think the goal is end of May,” said Ennamorato, 26.

Fleming has asked Sheridan to fund the project as part of applied research and pay for the students to travel to Europe for the final display by Nikari next year.