When Finnish illustrator Klaus Haapaniemi got a call from the director of the Finnish National Opera in Helsinki and was asked to do the visual concept for an upcoming opera, he probably didn't imagine that it would reach as far as the shelves of one of Finland's best-known design brands, Iittala.
Klaus's colourful and vibrant sketches brought the costumes and stage to live, and even added a touch of couture to a usually traditional opera environment.
The opera piece, The Cunning Little Vixen was originally written by Leoš Janáček. It's inspired by A newspaper novel by Rudolf Těsnohlídek and with its wit, deep thoughts and emotivity, it appeals to the adult audience as well as it appeals to kids with its playful landscapes and colourful costumes.
To Klaus, who had never seen or worked in opera before, joining this collaboration was a journey of discovery and creation. While illustrating the badger, the owl or the snail for example, he drew some inspiration from his Finnish upbringing and turned these drawings into costumes that let the characters come to life.
The decision to collaborate with Iittala was a no-brainer to him, and the Finnish design brand was on board immediately. Klaus designed a home ware range called Taansi, showcasing his signature of colourful, vibrant and playful illustrations. The collection includes crockery, cushions and kitchen towels and is a slight departure from Iittala's usual style.
The opera was a huge success and the collaboration between the Finnish illustrator and the design brand surely is one of many to come.