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Lincoln Kayiwa can distinguish between 50 shades of granite
Lincoln Kayiwa can distinguish between 50 shades of granite
Designer Lincoln Kayiwa, Master of Arts (Art and Design), received a grant of 12,000 euros from the Loimaa Enterprise Fund of the Varsinais-Suomi Regional Fund towards preparing an exhibition of design products made of Finnish granite.

Finnish soil rocks! In the hands of designers, granite is no longer bound by the limitations of architecture.

There is a brand in Finnish bedrock waiting to be exploited. It is called granite, a truly precious material. More than half of Finnish bedrock consists of different types of granite. “Finnish granite is characterised by its diversity and it is aesthetically interesting. The material has great potential,” says Lincoln Kayiwa, a Ugandan-born designer. “You must see it for yourself.”

Kayiwa is presenting granite in the showroom of Loimaan Kivi. There are fifty different types of granite. It is easy to understand why a designer has been captivated by the beauty of granite. This is a stone treasure: pitch-black Amadeus patterned in purple, the dazzlingly blue-green Ylämaa spectrolite. The range of colours and patterns is immense.

The treatments - polishing, heating, and cutting - can produce a vast range of breathtaking varieties. Polished stone glows like glass and its smoothness feels strangely soft. It is clear that the red and grey granite in staircases, building foundations and sculptures is only one way of using this material.

Kayiwa became interested in Finland in his home country Uganda as a student, when listening to a lecture on modern design given by a visiting professor.  A long slide presentation of the gems of design introduced Kayiwa to such Finnish celebrities as Eero Aarnio, Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Alvar Aalto.  When studying in London, Kayiwa applied for and received a student exchange place in Finland and, after taking a master's degree in arts and design from Aalto University, decided to stay in the country. In Finland, he also got married and established a studio of his own.

He is currently studying the potential of granite, in cooperation with Loimaan Kivi. The partnership has already produced results in a wide range of different fields.  A designer does not give orders, but is engaged in a dialogue with the other party. The people processing the stone are thoroughly familiar with the material.

“They know how thin a piece of granite can be or how an edge should be rounded.”

Jewellery is the new trend in granite. Kayiwa shows drawings of a bracelet in which a silver or golden frame encloses a black granite ring.  He enjoys combining playful elements and minimalism, a popular style in Finland. The end result is elegant and shows an understanding of the characteristics of the materials. Kayiwa does not make mass products. The context, as well as the combination of the material, object and the content are important.

Marble is held in such a high regard everywhere that there is little interest in other natural stones.  Italians have been very good at marketing marble and the country has benefited from it in many ways. There are more than 70 companies in the natural stone sector in Finland.

In Kayiwa's view, the Finnish stone industry should invite designers and partners from different parts of the world and give them a chance to work with granite companies.

There are already many things happening in the granite sector. The new look will be on display in the Helsinki Design Week exhibition in the autumn.

Text: Taina Saarinen
Photos: Robert Seger