Hilkka Mekri (Säynäjärvi)

Hilkka Mekri (Säynäjärvi) (nee Otsakari) (1917–88) studied at the School of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, graduating in 1945, and started working at Arabia that same year. Most of the students at the time were women, as were the ceramists at Arabia, and in time they would become renowned for their work.

After the Finnish Winter War she married Rafael Mekri, who died in the Continuation War. She got a position at the arts department at Arabia, whose artists were given more privileges and freedom to create. She focused on creating plates, bowls and vases, experimenting with various glazes and decorations. Mekri was friends with ceramist Kyllikki Salmenhaara and there are resemblances in their work.

In the end of the 1940s Hilkka Mekri remarried with Klas Säynäjärvi, a geologist who travelled extensively in his work, and they had two children at the end of the 1940s and beginning of the 1950s. Although Arabia had a kindergarten, which took care of the children while the parents were at work, Hilkka Säynäjärvi decided to leave her career and become a housewife.

Säynäjärvi painted and worked on fabrics such as silk paintings and embroideries during her time at home. Over time she got back into ceramics, renting a basement space in the 1960s where she could throw and burn her creations. in 1966, the family moved to the small town of Parainen in Finland. Säynäjärvi got her own space at the tile factory Turun Kaakeli, for whom she also created company gifts to order.

  • Hilkka Mekri (1917–88)
  • De Bijenkorf department store in Holland (1949) – exhibition of ten artists working at Arabia at the time.
  • Best known for her work at Arabia from 1945 to 1952.



Published by Jonas

Digital developer and a modern design connoisseur. I love my family, reading and chairs. In that order.

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