Woven to last

Johanna Gullichsen at Heinola City Museum in the summer of 2024

The museum director, Riitta Koskinen, invited Gullichsen to present her extensive work at the museum. “Johanna Gullichsen is one of the leading names in textile design in Finland today, so I am delighted to be able to present her extensive work at Heinola City Museum,” says Koskinen.

The City Museum is located in the centre of Heinola, in a beautiful light blue wooden building that was once the home of merchant Ulrik Lindholm (1825-90) and later served as the town hall (1898-1983). The museum was opened in the building in 1984. The building has a dignified atmosphere, with original creaky wooden floors and restored decorative paintings gleaming from the ceiling. Additionally, some of Gullichsen’s textiles will be displayed in a 17th-century setting at the Aschan House, which is located a few blocks away from the museum and used to be the house of the Provincial Constable.

From Sketch to Product

The exhibition showcases the product design process, from initial sketches to the final finished product. The exhibition includes original paintings, hand-woven experiments, various final products, and prototypes still in development. 

Gullichsen believes it’s crucial to understand every step of the product-making process, including where, how, and by whom the products are made. She also thinks understanding the technology involved is essential to the design process. The exhibition includes photographs from Japan, where Gullichsen learned about the cultivation of Igusa, the raw material for traditional tatami. After returning from the trip, Gullichsen designed a series of folding rugs woven from igusa, and one of these rugs is included in the exhibition.


Fabric is a raw material used to create interior design products, clothes, and upholstered furniture. Therefore, collaboration in various forms is a natural part of Gullichsen’s work. Working with other companies and designers is often rewarding and provide new perspectives and open new markets.

One of Gullichsen’s collaborators is Villa & Peite, who created the Huili bed upholstered in Tithonus fabric. The bed is made entirely of natural materials, such as sheep’s wool and natural rubber. Gullichsen chooses partners who share her values of responsible production and a passion for quality materials.

In addition to woven fabrics, Gullichsen’s patterns have been adapted for printed products, such as the Nereus pattern used on ceramic dishes made by Vaja Finland. The Nereus by Johanna Gullichsen collection is also on display in Heinola.

Timeless and versatile

Styles and designs evolve with time, and each era has its own distinct look. However, if products and buildings are made with authenticity, good materials, and high quality, they can all blend in seamlessly together. The Gullichsen products from the 1980s to the present day are a great example of this, as they match perfectly with the 19th-century setting of the museum. The exhibition includes upholstered furniture from the Gustavian era, as well as a prototype chair by young designer Eveliina Saarentaus, which was presented in 2023 at Habitare’s Protoshop.

“The very name of the exhibition, Woven to Last, indicates that Johanna’s products emphasise timelessness, high quality and sustainability. We are happy to highlight these values in our museum,” says Museum Director Koskinen.

The exhibition is open at Heinola City Museum from May 11th to September 22nd, 2024.

Warmly welcome.

Photo: Niclas Warius