Ritva Puotila, artistic director of Woodnotes, founded Woodnotes with her son Mikko Puotila in 1987, basing the company on the concept of paper yarn. Puotila says that paper has properties that differ fundamentally from the other fibres she use: its lightness and rustling, its clean natural colour when unbleached, its whiteness and the glow of colour. Ritva Puotila has raised the status of this traditional Finnish material to a new level, that of designer textile. From the start, the Woodnotes collection consisted of a broad range of interior textiles, from carpets and blinds to upholstery and small objects for the home. Woodnotes’ foray into this new field was rewarded immediately during its founding year with the French Oscar Prize, continuing with further recognition in subsequent years.
Woodnotes’ new pile rugs have their roots in the traditional Finnish ryijy, a rug-like tapestry. During her student years, Puotila worked with stained glass, and she brought its spirit to the first ryijy patterns she designed for competitions organised by the Friends of Finnish Handicraft. The results were winning: Puotila’s ryijys won the gold medal at the Milano XII Trienniale in 1960 and other prizes.
In addition to winning awards for her products, Puotila has received lifetime achievement awards, including the Finland Prize and the Kaj Franck Design Prize. Her works are included in the collections of the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Architecture and Design Collection at MOMA.