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Weekly Bubbling: Emmi Kainulainen

Emmi Kainulainen, an interior architect slash fashion designer slash artist, runs her own clothing and art brand CHAÎNE. Weekly Bubbling is a series of articles presenting up-and-coming talents in the design world.

26-year-old Emmi Kainulainen is a busy lady: she works as a visual artist, designer, interior architect and fashion model.

Last autumn she founded her own luxury lifestyle brand CHAÎNE that focuses on paintings, unique dresses and art accessories. Kainulainen wants to design clothes that suit slouching on the sofa or prancing on the red carpet. In addition, she styles photos for models’ portfolios and works as a freelancer. 

You are talented in many areas. How do you manage to compromise between them? 

I get excited about things easily and usually realise my ideas in one way or another. I always want to learn new things, and I approach life with positive curiosity. The versatility of my work gives me strength.

What are your professional values and objectives? 

I want to use art to bring people wellbeing that balances their hectic way of life. Last autumn I founded art and clothing brand CHAÎNE. I design clothes that reflect our time and suit slouching on the sofa or prancing on the red carpet. CHAÎNE is French and means chain. Each piece of clothing in my brand is linked to a previously designed item regarding both colour and idiom. Little by little different products form a chain of classics, and my paintings, too, are linked to previous works.

How do you work?

I mainly work from my home office in Minneapolis. My work days are very versatile. I create content for my own and CHAÎNE websites, I sew prototypes of my clothing, and I sketch and paint for my new projects. It is difficult to obtain a work permission for the United States so for the time being I telecommute to Finland.


Turtleneck dress CHAÎNE classics -mallistosta © TANIA BLAK

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You are able to naturally present yourself, which is not typical to a Finn. How would you encourage young designers to better present themselves? 

Young designers should take after successful Swedes and Americans who know how to casually promote themselves and their works. In Finland, artist branding perhaps has been felt to somehow devaluate the art, but I think it is important to set forth one’s skills. Many artists are finding their customers through social media throughout the world.

How did your childhood impact your choice of profession?

I grew up in the countryside in a sporty family as the only girl and a big sister to five boys. It was that early when I started to dream of becoming an architect. I was just a first-grader, and my classmates would order wooden shoes from me. I made the shoes myself in a small shed we had! I also drew portraits of my friends and designed floor plans of dream houses.

Do you have idols among artists or architects? 

The colour world I use reflects my mood in any moment. I can be inspired to do my paintings by a sunset or a street scene. My role models among artists include Clara Hallencreutz, whose surrealistic fashion-themed photographic art never ceases to fascinate me, and Richard Haines, whose vivid fashion illustrations inspire me daily.

My favourite interior architects are Rose Uniacken and Kelly Wearstler. As an interior architect, I strive to create balanced spaces and combine them with art. In the future, it would be great to design boutique hotels. The individuality they enable in a public space fascinates me.

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Who do you follow on Instagram? 

I follow several models who have become entrepreneurs and jewellery, fashion and interior designers including Kelly Wearstler, Helena Bordon, Nicole Trunfio, Erin Wasson and Magdalena Frackowiak. I gain extra energy when I see creative, strong-willed women make it in the business world.

Helsinki Design Week’s theme this year is ‘Better’. What ideas does it bring to you? 

All design and production should develop and become more responsible. Materials should be recycled more efficiently, and products should be made more ecological and sustainable.

If you met a tourist in Helsinki, which architecturally impressive place would you introduce? 

We would go to have a traditional meal in Savoy and walk through the beautiful Esplanade and Kaivopuisto park to bathe and swim in Löyly.


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