Maker Series: Suomi Tale
I fell in love with the beautiful characters of Suomi Tale as soon as I saw them. Even more so when I discovered their maker, Florencia Slatkis is literally one of the nicest people in the world! Florencia has such an amazing connection with the characters she creates. I’ve been lucky enough to receive two of Flor’s wonderful dolls, Piet (for me) and Gwen (for my niece). They are even more stunning in real life than they are in pictures. I was intrigued to hear more about Flor’s inspirations and motivations and happily, she agreed to answer our questions!
1. Tell us a little bit about you, your family and where you live?
I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since I was a child I have always felt something special for fine arts and literature, mainly influenced by my grandparents who escaped World War II from Italy. My grandmother was a Florentine devoted reader who loved languages; my grandfather, a Venetian abstract sculptor. My family used to attend his exhibitions feeling absolutely touched by visual arts.
During school time, I used to participate in fine arts competitions and workshops where I developed a peculiar view about sensibility. In the same way, European and Argentine literature has always been absolutely inspiring for me. Thus, perception became an important issue in my life. Although I did not complete my studies in Psychology, they were focused in Neural Plasticity and Art.
I still think that ‘art’ (of any kind) can also be called ‘hope’. Hope to turn sadness into something positive. That, cannot be put into words. Something especially amazing in childhood.
2. Tell us more about the creation of your business?
Suomi Tale was created in 2015 as a dream. The particular feeling I have for my childhood experiences led me to combine my passions; Fine Arts and Design, Literature, Nature, and Languages.
One day in Autumn, I had a two-dimensional rabbit sketch that I wanted to reproduce into a three-dimensional piece. When I first handled the materials, I thought I could never do it, but somehow, I did. I felt amazed when I turned the first doll right side out; Lars was almost alive, with his turquoise corduroy ears. The following step was to complete the expression on his face. I felt I was a dreamer creating, embroidering a dreamer. He suddenly became a real fictional character and, as soon as he got dressed, he opened up a whole new world.
Lars, Tin Moustache, had appeared to be the first inhabitant of a world made with different colours and sounds; Suomi Tale. Later, Sybil and other animals showed their unique qualities, unique abilities happily accepted by their comrades.
Suomi Tale’s first public appearance was in Le Pain Quotidien (Belgian Bakery), Christmas 2015 in Argentina, where the characters shared the same space with the customers in the restaurants. The following year, during Easter and for Christmas, the rabbits and the deer were honoured by Home Hotel Buenos Aires by being invited to join its magical atmosphere with the guests.
3. You feature literature, the woods and nordic design in your dolls. What inspires you about these things?
Literature has always inspired me in any activity connected with the senses. Some of the animals represent characters from literature stories I love. Others, artists, musicians, writers, etc.
Lewis Carroll: Lars, tin moustache, as the bunny of ‘Alice in Wonderland’
Oscar Wilde: Sybil, from The Portrait of Dorian Grey’
Jorge Luis Borges: Bjarni, from ‘Undr’
Julio Cortázar: Holanda from ‘Final del Juego’
John Lennon: just John
Alvar Aalto: just Alvar
Henry Moore: just Moore
Lapland inspiration: Lars Lappi
I love nature, but I have a unique feeling for woods, it is my favourite landscape and I don’t know why. Suomi Tale animals and features will always be connected with it.
‘Suomi’ means Finland in Finnish. I love Nordic nature and Nordic aesthetics gives me peace. It is defined by simple lines, soft and dark colours and natural fabrics.
4. What do you love most about running your own business?
There are two things.
One is the surprise, the moment I turn the dolls right side out and when I finish them (each one different from the other).
The other is a kind of happiness (not secondary in importance), when someone perceives something unique, not definable in words, about the toy animal. The expression on the face when a person experiences what he/she cannot avoid.
5. What is your favourite character to make and why?