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Q&A: Pillow talk with Vancouver-based brand Studio Kukamuka

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Pillows from the Luonto Collection from Studio Kukamuka.


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It’s no secret that unique decor elements such as pillows, throws and rugs can transform a space.

And a new collection from the Vancouver-based company Studio Kukamuka is aiming to take the transformation a step further — by bringing the outdoors in.

We caught up with Petra Kaksonen and Päivi Vähälä, the founders of the brand, to learn more about their company, the new pillow collection inspired by nature, and using nature as an inspiration for design.


Q. For those who aren’t familiar, what is Kukamuka?

A. We are two Finnish designers combining our talents to create original print and surface patterns for architecture, interior textiles, fashion and home décor. We work remotely from the opposite site of the world: Päivi Vähälä, an artist and textile designer, lives and works in Vienna, Austria, and Petra Kaksonen, a graphic designer, is based in Vancouver.

Q. Is there a story behind the name? 

A. Yes! As we were working together in Vienna, we were going through hundreds of potential names. We wanted a Finnish reference, but everything we liked was taken. We started to play with words and came up with Kukamuka. It’s Finnish yet sounds Japanese, in Swahili it means “to go”, in the Tumbuka language, it is one word for the sun — it’s a name you can have fun with! It suits us well, it’s not too serious and works anywhere in the world.

Q. What makes it different from other pillow/home décor brands?

A. We want to create timeless designs with unique, hand-drawn patterns. There is always an element of surprise: a modern twist on wabi-sabi combined with unusual, bold colours and the simplicity of Nordic Design tradition.

Q. What inspires the designs? 

A. Our designs are based on Päivi’s original hand-painted and hand-drawn artwork. In all our patterns, you can feel the human hand in the organic shapes.

Q. And what can you share about the latest Luonto Collection?

A. We partnered with Vancouver-based Pillow Décor to design our first North-American throw pillow collection. The Luonto Collection — nature in Finnish — is inspired by the untamed wilderness and peacefulness of nature: treasures collected on long beach walks, the fog after the rain, summer light in the forest.

We designed a collection of six pillows in fours colours — blue, sage, burgundy and yellow – ready for you to build your own mix. The pillows feel modern yet are playful and fun–they look great on a sofa but are also perfect for afternoon naps and building forts. The soft, felt fabric looks elegant and is easy to care for. We are very happy how the collection turned out. The reception has been great!

Q. What is the price range for Luonto throw pillows?

A. The pillows come in three sizes: 12×19-inch, 19×19-inch and 22×22-inch. The prices range from $59.95-$99.95.

Q. And where can people check them out?

A. The collection is sold through Pillow Décor at pillowdecor.ca/collections/kukamuka.

Q. Lastly, what’s next for the brand?

A. We are currently designing a collection of bedding and fashion textiles from rubber boots to bowties. We are just getting started!

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