Josh Krute presents multifunctional storage system with stackable boxes inspired by totems
During the time at home, our domestic spaces have often been taken over by work materials. ”My Toteemi series provides solutions for how we delve between living and working in the same environment,” the Helsinki-based designer tells.
19 Oct 2021

In 2019, Krute obtained a Master of Arts degree from Aalto University in the Contemporary Design Program, and currently, he works as a workshop instructor for the university’s Art, Design and Architecture studios. 

— My design practice is toward furniture, textile, and objects all culminating on a spectrum; this mostly centered around my favorite natural material: wood. I am interested in developing simplistic functional products while emphasizing wooden materiality and the ’decisions of the maker’ during production — I believe this balancing act can lead to an obscurity or a quality that is unique to my design style, he tells.

Krute describes his practice as ”somewhat interchangeable”, jumping through hoops between low-edition, collectible design, and mass production sectors and collaborating with as many people and companies, such as manufacturers, retailers, and gallery curators, as possible.

— As a woodworker, I am drawn to our heritage of ingenious manufacturing. Specifically, I like to imagine the depth of technique and technologies developed over the years to manipulate dimensional lumber into a usable form. For example, I am intrigued by lamination, steam-bending, embossing, or even logic behind joinery and structure used in objects and furniture. With this perspective, I think design today is partly tied to this ’designer know-how’ and ’hand knowledge, both of which are gained through years of hands-on-learning and prototyping with material or form, he shares, continuing, 

— For this reason, I aim to develop furniture works that are driven by both values and sensibilities — one that combines obscurity and refinement to fundamentals, while employing natural materials and our craft heritage.

— Today, when thinking of products or objects for interior or home sectors, I find that people can be more drawn to iconic works, or even peculiar works produced in limited editions rather than conventional types. For me, it’s the unique qualities and details of a work that become more complimentary when a design is simplistic and straightforward; its overall presence is stronger with less. Additionally, I find that making and designing collections of objects and furniture having similar characteristics have better interplay with each other and people within a space. For me, craft and artisan skill sets and techniques still provide the best tangible and practical information needed to develop a design. On the other hand, experimentation with technique or material qualities allows for unforeseen possibilities and relationships within a making process. 

A few weeks ago, Josh Krute was part of the Discovered exhibition at the Design Museum in London, organized by AHEC and Wallpaper*.

— The exhibition shows a multitude of one-off wooden furniture works and really exemplifies how designers have interpreted the pandemic globally through their design approaches. For the project, I developed Toteemi (meaning totem in Finnish), a collection of furniture objects that function as storage for remote working supplies and home objects. It encompasses both solid and laminated maple, forming multifunctional storage boxes that have bold interior colors. Each box has a different color scheme to aid users in designating certain objects within. Additionally, each box lid acts as a serving tray for food or smaller items. What’s more, the boxes’ ’mouth’ handle and looping form is a feature that is easy on the ’eyes and hands’ and is a testimony to the possibilities of laminated wood — this form combining its functionality with aesthetics makes these boxes unique for the home environment, he explains.

— Additionally, the boxes nest perfectly on top of one another, stack on the adjacent stool or on the nearby adjustable shelf unit. I wanted to design an interchangeable system for smaller living quarters, where versatility and intimacy are essential aspects for separating remote working and daily activities. Even now I can imagine this system having more potential to be expanded to larger spaces and with several variations.

Toteemi isn’t for sale at the moment and will be a part of a traveling exhibition organized by AHEC for another year.

— I aim to further develop the prototype, especially the inside of the boxes and the shelf unit. I’d like to reach out to companies soon and start a conversation about finding a producer for Toteemi, Krute concludes.

Josh Krute