"FUNCTIONALITY IS NOT AN ATTRIBUTE OF THE OBJECT. IT IS THE BY-PRODUCT OF USE. CREATED BY A USER."
- IIRO A. AHOKAS 2000
IIRO A. AHOKAS is a Finnish designer and the director of ATELIER AHOKAS who works internationally on contemporary product, surface pattern and concept design. He has extensive experience of collaborations with leading companies, such as Audi, Unilever, Crate & Barrel, Iittala, Marimekko, Design House Stockholm, and Sarner Cristal. Presently, his commercial designs are sold worldwide in around forty countries.
Ahokas' work is focused on creating holistic lifestyle concepts, homeware collections and premium interior objects varying from handcrafted one-offs to industrially manufactured products. He cultivates a bold, alternative and dynamic design language in products such as ceramics and glass, tableware, textiles, wallpapers, lighting and furniture – extending his eye for style to wearable accessories such as shoes, bags and jewellery.
Ahokas is renowned for modern surface pattern and colour designs that he has created for companies operating in the sectors of consumer goods and marketing. For the iconic Finnish Marimekko textile and clothing house he has created over fifty interior design products and fabric prints in highly vibrant and vigorous colours.
Over 300 printed publications have featured Ahokas’ work internationally. His work has been shown in museums, events and design fairs worldwide from The Museum of Modern Art in New York to the Murano Glass Museum in Venice, Italy.
”European Academy of Arts Scholarship” – one of the most outstanding European awards in the field – was rewarded to Ahokas in 2005. He has been ranked as the ”World's Leading Designers” by Taschen Publishing (2007) and honored in ”The Year’s Most Ingenious Products” by I.D. the International Design Magazine (2007). Ahokas has also been recognized by a number of other awards, grants and scholarships. In 2012 he was awarded with the “K.E.N.K.Ä" Young Shoe Designer of the Year prize.
In addition to commercial and creative design Ahokas has made a name as a lecturer in product design. He has contributed in the current multidisciplinary design education as an invited lecturer in Industrial Product Design at the University of Art and Design Helsinki. He has also held a lecturer’s position at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture being responsible for the experimental design education in the MA Degree Programme of Applied Art and Design. (2007-14.)
Born in 1976, Ahokas took his Master of Arts Degree from the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 2001. He is a member of Design Migration Association and the ORNAMO Finnish Association of Designers. After living and working as a creative design director in Berlin for years, Ahokas is currently based in Helsinki, Finland.
"I feel that seeing functionality as an inherent part of the object, independent of the user, was born of industrial constitution and mass production – the idea that everyone will use a certain object the same way. To me this created a linguistic and conceptual perversion, the idea that an object can be impractical. I believe that functionality becomes a part of an object only when the object is used or as a by-product of use. This means that functionality is not an attribute of the object as much as of the person using it.
I see design in general as a study of social epidemic, the changes in our environment and the development of urban culture. This is especially interesting in the relationship between space and objects – how objects interact in space, and how humans interact with objects."