The People Behind the Products – Pt. 3

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Studio Blip is the dynamic duo that is Ken & Ruth Vonderberg.  I met Ken when I first moved to Milwaukee, as he taught me some of the technical Interior Design classes that have served me so well throughout my career.  Prior to being an educator for 19 years, he was a commercial interior designer for 25 years.  He was an instrumental part of my design education.  He and his wife Ruth, previously a graphic designer, retired in 2012, and opened an art studio called Studio Blip in Milwaukee’s arty 3rd ward neighborhood.

ken ruth

The talented and fabulous Ken & Ruth Vonderberg

Ken is constantly looking for new ways to use old media.  He has elevated the wood burning art form to “Pyrography” in which his images resemble photographs. He also uses pastels, oil and acrylic paint and charcoal or graphite to produce more representational artwork. His subjects are found in the natural as well as the built world and the human figure is a source of endless inspiration for him.

You can feel a great sense of design and composition that has translated so well from Ruth’s previous work in graphic design to fine art.  To quote Ruth “My creative process involves exploring the versatility of media as it relates to the surface I am working on. The interplay between these materials allows me to build the complexity of visual interest I strive to achieve using color, pattern and texture. This is the challenge I enjoy, and satisfaction I get, from non-objective abstract interpretation.”

They also host weekly open figure drawing as well as Gallery Night events in their studio and have been featured in art galleries and museums throughout Wisconsin. Stop in to see Ken and Ruth’s one of a kind artwork here at Olson House!

Next on the feature list is Nikari. When I was traveling Scandinavia seeking product and display inspiration, and exploring the Stockholm Design District, I happened upon some of the most elegant wood chairs I had ever seen.  It turns out that they were from a Finnish brand called Nikari, and once we arrived to the Finnish portion of the Scandinavian Adventure we saw them more and more.  Nikari has been making exquisite quality sustainable wood furniture since 1967. The Nikari studio is located in the beautiful, unique Fiskars village in south-west Finland, in the oldest machinery workshop of the country. Most of the timber that they use for their furniture comes from nearby forests tended with the principles of sustainability and biodiversity. They also employ the use of ecological and natural surface treatment materials, such as oil, waxes and soap, and let the natural beauty of the wood shine through.  We are currently featuring pieces from their “12 DESIGNS FOR NATURE” collection, a collaboration between Nikari and WWF Finland, and a portion of the sale is donated to protecting rain-forests and forests globally.  When doing additional research on the company I happened upon this quote from Johanna Vourio, my contact at Nikari, who was featured in an interview with Iranzu Guijarro of the blog WAY TO GO *Art&Design*:


Photo Credit: WAY TO GO *Art&Design*, at Nikari in Fiskars Village, Finland

I thought this really speaks to the care that Nikari imbues each piece of furniture they create.  We currently have the July stool and December lounge chairs in store, and are waiting for additional beautiful quality pieces to arrive in the near future.  Check back soon for more!!

In Store at Olson House - Studio Blip & NIkari!


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