Klaus Haapaniemi

It’s been some time since we collaborated with the talented Klaus Haapaniemi, the last project being our Pocko Edition publication “Giants”. Last year Klaus approached us to direct and produce an animation inspired by his upcoming tableware collection for legendary Finnish design company iittala, entitled: Tanssi – A story is about to begin.

Tanssi – meaning ‘dance’ in Finnish – is a pattern inspired by the visual designs by Klaus Haapaniemi for the Finnish National Opera production of “The Cunning Little Vixen”, a Czech opera by Leoš Janáček, and formed the basis for the animation.

The sad yet beautiful story exploring the co-existence of animals, humans and the eternal cycle of life, comes alive in Haapaniemi’s rich designs on tableware created by Finnish designer Heikki Orvola. Described as a comic opera, “The Cunning Little Vixen” contains a serious theme: ranging from children’s entertainment to a tragedy. Our aim was to showcase the characters of the opera through dance and ultimately love.

It was a great pleasure and honour to produce the animation with Klaus for iittala, and with the excellent animation skills of our own Ben Pearce.

The love story is set to a beautiful segment from Leoš Janáček’s ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’, to which the the film utilizes its rhythm and flow of actions. The dance of the characters was intentionally limited to the actual movement as to reinforce the stylistic movement and natural characteristics of a puppet.

The story is straightforward in that it traces the Vixen’s journey throughout a forest, and the unusual characters she encounters along the way. It is only but towards the end of the animation, where the Vixen finally meets our Fox, and both become spellbound in love and dance. A comet comes crashing down from the night sky and explodes with a brilliance of light and sparkles – a metaphor for the transformation of the entwined couple sealed in permanence.

The concept of the animation was to allude to Eastern shadow puppetry and Victorian theatre.  A forest was the proposed setting – a natural habitat of the animals, yet still interesting enough to create variety and enhance the operatic mood. The characters are surrounded by unusual trees and vegetation, somewhat “other-worldy”, yet still familiar to the viewer.

Klaus’ work and the iittala collection embraces a richness of Baroque patterns, textures and character exuberance. Tonalities of this world are deep, earthy, organic and natural