AICCI combines thin plywood and light

In Muurame, Finland, Koskisen thin plywood is used to manufacture unique luminous tables, which are a fusion of gently playing light and a beautiful wood surface. The high-quality wood material makes it possible to manufacture unique furniture.

AICCI was born in 2006, when Sauli Koukkari, the founder of the company, witnessed the transformation in the development of LEDs and illumination. At the same time, the demand for special lighting solutions increased. As a designer, Koukkari was specifically interested in thin luminous surfaces, and he was able to implement demanding luminous surfaces on walls, ceilings and floors. He delved more deeply into the matter, developed the technology and structure of the luminaires in order to diffuse the light over a large area. This makes it possible to create powerful but soft light that is pleasing to the eye. Already early on in his career, Koukkari adopted the thought that it should be possible to maintain and repair everything that is manufactured. In keeping with this principle, he has developed panel lights whose LEDs can be changed and the device in general maintained. Koukkari’s serviceable panel light is presumably the first of its kind in the world. Since 2007, AICCI has been manufacturing lighting solutions to, for example, Kone’s elevators in high-rise buildings in more than 30 countries.

Päivi Charpentier has extensive experience in interior and furniture design.

Charpentier set up her first business in 1999 while still studying, designing primarily commercial premises and homes. Early on, she realised the role and effect of light on the space and its users.

Koukkari and Charpentier have been working together since 2016. They share an interest in lighting, and Charpentier examines the theme from the perspective of interior architect, while Koukkari focuses on the technical and light quality aspects of luminaires. Their very first conversations concerned their shared interest. “We talked about what can be achieved with light and what its impacts are. How you can improve your wellbeing through lighting. Our goal is to create lighting solutions whose light doesn’t bother even the most sensitive people and would actually be beneficial,” Charpentier explains.

Own product shows the way like a beacon in the night

Until the end of 2017, AICCI exclusively created bespoke client solutions for challenging sites in over 50 countries. The company had its own solutions but was still missing its own product. Koukkari and Charpentier were, however, planning their own AICCI luminaire range which would allow them make use of their respective skills and extensive experience.

According to Koukkari, lighting is still an area of rapidly evolving technology and it is crucial to closely keep up with development. Koukkari’s and Charpentier’s vision of their own flagship product became clear at the time of the lighting transformation. On the desk of the two skilled and experienced designers, a modern lighting product saw the light of day; a table that combines practical, timeless solutions with exceptional, beautiful light. The product development process moved on to testing different materials for the enclosure of the driver of another luminous table from plastic to metal before deciding on wood.

“It was Päivi’s idea to use wood and specifically plywood for the luminous table,” Koukkari points out. “We started to look into plywood and wood, which is a great material when the aim is to create both serviceable and ecologic luminaires.”

Contacting Koskisen guaranteed high-quality thin plywood

Koukkari contacted Koskisen sales, and soon the two found themselves at the Hirvensalmi unit checking out different plywood options. The material used for the illuminating wooden tables’ frame is thin plywood or plywood, and the tabletop is made from thin plywood attached to glass. The grain of the plywood is unidirectional. The light softly penetrates the tabletop’s thin plywood and literally makes the beautiful thin plywood surface glow. Charpentier points out that the solution also works in fixtures and walls and ceilings.

“We learned that it is possible to make large illuminating surfaces like this,” Charpentier says. “People can’t believe their eyes when they see the product. The light is as even as can be on the varied surface. Wood is a beautiful, varied material that accentuates the light.”

Koukkari and Charpentier acknowledge that plywood may be a familiar material to many, while thin plywood is something that even joiners may never have heard of. The couple admits to preferring plywood and thin plywood with their unique properties over all other materials. Koskisen’s thin plywood enables the manufacture of an entirely new type of product and transforms the traditional approach to the design and manufacture of furniture. Charpentier says that the illuminating area does not have to be the same size as the tabletop, which gives opportunities for creating patterns in the plywood with light.

“We will use Koskisen’s thin plywood also for larger products as it adds rigidity and strength, and has a thin edge. It helps create as large a surface as possible without compromising stability. And the edge of thin plywood is beautiful enough to be highly suitable for interior products as a material.”

Koukkari and Charpentier say that they are excited about plywood products, and besides a table,  they will launch a professional desk lamp using Koskisen’s four-millimetre plywood. The lamp will have adjustable high-quality light that can be used to control your circadian rhythm. The lamp is installed at the edge of the table, and it includes sockets and USB ports.

The only way to accomplish the airy frame of the lamp and hide the wiring in the slender arm is to use thin plywood.

Charpentier points out that since the light reveals even the tiniest flaws, the wooden components must be of high quality. Even the adhesive used is important. It has to look beautiful when lit.

“For us, quality played a major part in choosing Koskisen,” Charpentier says. “We also value Finnish materials, and our products have both the Key Flag and Design from Finland symbols.”

Sustainability is also very important. Koukkari and Charpentier look at sustainability from several aspects, from materials and packaging to the weight of the product. The products also have a long service life, and they can always be serviced – just like at the very beginning of AICCA’s story. Raw materials are sourced from Finland to the largest possible extent, and all subcontracted work is performed as close by as possible. In addition to other aspects, sustainability was also a consideration in choosing Koskisen as a partner.

“Based on our experiences of Koskisen’s plywood products, we won’t be giving them up easily. They are so interesting and of high quality,” Koukkari concludes.