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13 March 2023

Great performance is linked to innovation, employed by the brave and daring, those wanting to break boundaries in search for new grazing ground. To be a pioneer is only for those willing to risk all and possibly fail all, whilst pushing forward into the unknown.

A shining example of brave risk-taking are the Finnish textile designer Ritva Puotila, and son Mikko Puotila. Ritva is a highly acclaimed textile designer and artist. Together they founded Woodnotes in 1987, one of Finlands most successful contemporary design stories.

What is their innovation? In short, to use the potential of a basic material, paper, which is twisted into yarn. Exploring how it can be transformed into a variety of stylish products with the aim to enhance our everyday.


The fibre manufactured for the products is made from ecologically produced paper yarn. No use of bleach (which is very common in paper manufacturing) or other toxic elements have any part in their production. The products are particularly valuable for people who are allergic to wool, synthetic fibre and dust as very little dust gathers in the rugs and runners made from the tightly twisted strings, additionally, it is also an ideal product for vegans.

The paper used is derived from timber, coming from the very north of the Scandinavian hemisphere where the cold forces the trees to grow with patience, producing a dense, strong wood from which the paper is manufactured. The densely grown wood creates the basis for a strong yarn which was once used for cable insulation going underground in high sub zero temperatures, so the paper yarn insulation has to be durable., no break down of electricity in arctic, temperatures, thank you. This type of insulation was expensive, so when man-made fibre came to the market it replaced the paper yarn with its production to cease.

Along comes a textile designer and a young economist, thinking, hm, here we produce a high-quality product, unique in the world, this should not go to waste, and so the idea of Woodnotes was born.


Ritva Puotila was already a very successful designer working internationally including the US, long before Woodnotes was created. She had by then received numerous awards for her textile designs and art creations. Some of the judges in the many contests she won where ground-breaking designers themselves such as Birger Kaipiainen, Lisa Johansson-Pape and Kirsti Ilvessalo, to name a few, good company is good company.....

Ritva used the traditional Finnish rug weaving techniques, introducing her designs and colour combinations for the innovative paper-string, creations, resulting in an ever modern, timeless collection. Now 35 years later, the company produces a wide range of products to delight our every- day. Rugs and runners still make the core business, swiftly followed by blinds and partitions, throws, furniture and accessories.


I did not know of Woodnotes before starting Skandium but came across their rugs by chance when visiting Finland in the summer of 1998. They stack out, piled up in a traditional carpet store, loudly shouting: “look at us, we are so stylish!”

The material, feel and design was very different from what I knew (not knowing then the string they are made from is paper). I was immediately mesmerised, wanting to tell the world about them. The Skandium idea was not even cooked up, we just looked generally around for great design. Together with the new kitchen series introduced the same year, ‘Tools’ by Iittala, the Woodnotes rugs where just on point, innovative, new, stylish and of great quality. We had the urge to build a story around these products and together with the furniture by Alvar Aalto for Artek all set the core stone for the birth of modern Scandinavian design which we named Skandium, selecting timeless creations from the 1920s to present day.


We were the first retailer introducing Woodnotes to the UK market. I was immensely proud of our collection and Woodnotes was sitting at the top of our favourite list, offered especially to architects who understood the product immediately.

Woodnotes has a timeless feel about their products, never disturbing the space they are used in, but rather accompanying it in silent elegance. They carry a beautiful lightweight aesthetics of everyday beauty, a poetic spirit expressed with clarity and confidence, perfectly fitting both for modern and historical settings somehow reflecting the Finnish spirit of quiet, unpretentious lightness, providing a counterbalance to the visual overflow of our modern world.

The original idea behind Woodnotes is to combine artistic creativity inspired by the rigours of Finnish nature with advanced technological solutions to utilise the basic Finnish raw material, wood transformed into paper.

Woodnotes today offers a total concept of interiors. The large and diverse collection of spun paper yarn is used for rugs, blinds, partitions, accessories, furniture and in vibrant art-pieces. All can be applied to both the home and office space. As Woodnotes co-founder Mikko Puotila says:

“We were the first in the world to use paper yarn in a modern way for interior textiles, using it for its own sake and on its own terms, not as a substitute for some other materials.”


There are of course competitors on the market now but it is fascinating to compare the products, Woodnotes by far excels both in design and manufacturing quality, which is a sure sign, we are dealing with innovators, always on the look-out to improve, moving forward within their field of operation.

Rita and team have created a unique portfolio of stylish products, timeless and of quiet elegance, always relevant.

Woodnotes today exports their products through leading design stores to 50 countries around the world, speak of a success story……. and it will for sure stay with us for many years to come.