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THE HISTORY OF LAURI
Goldsmith Johannes Lauri came from Southern Ostrobothnia to Rovaniemi in the 1920s. In 1924 he started up a knife factory on Pohjolankatu.
Along with knives, Lauri's workshop manufactured traditional Lappish handicrafts. The main raw materials were reindeer antler and goat willow's root. Those were also the materials for the knife handles. About twenty people worked in the Lauri factory during the busiest years.
The factory was destroyed during the Lapland war in 1945.
Immediately after the war, the manufacturing of the knives and other reindeer antler products was continued in a small house that was meant to be temporary. Johannes Lauri had planned to bring an Ostrobothnian log house to Pohjolankatu. The plan was finally realized in 1968 when Johannes Lauri's successors relocated the house of Rapakko from the village of Alanampa to Pohjolankatu. The log house became a workshop.
After Johannes Lauri's death the business was continued in the 1970s with different names until in 1978 Lauri tuotteet Oy was established. Lauri tuotteet Oy bought the property, renewed the log house and brought a new warehouse building from the village of Kuivaniemi.
In addition to continuing to manufacture the old designs, new products were designed and made of curly birch. Also new knife and jewelry designs were introduced.
The building complex grew with a provincial style log house that was relocated from Pudasjärvi. In the beginning the new house acted as a workshop and cafeteria. From the beginning of the 1990s it has been a place for private functions such as commemorations, weddings, christenings and birthdays as well as other meetings.
In 2017 the Lauri property was bought by tourism entrepreneurs Julia Allemann and Lukas Allemann (company Hilla House Oy), which continues the old traditions of Lauri for local handicrafts and jewelry made on the spot. In addition, formerly unused parts of the property have been transformed into a cozy guest house.
The journey that Johannes Lauri started in Rovaniemi almost a century ago continues. Lauri's business history is unique and the longest of its kind in Lapland.
Born in Rovaniemi in 1962, Jouko has been a creative personality since his childhood. At the age of seventeen he was one of the founders of the rock band Jalla Jalla that keeps performing to this day. He is a bright songwriter and guitarist. Jouko studied arts and crafts in Southern Finland, learning how to work with eight different materials, like glass, textiles, wood, leather, silver, and others.
In 1999 he started his apprenticeship at the Lauri workshop under the supervision of handicraft’ expert Saara Uusipulkamo and learned how to work with antler. “My teacher was an old woman, she used to smoke cigarettes all the time and enjoyed telling dirty jokes”, Jouko fondly remembers.
“I have a beautiful family with my beloved wife and two daughters. I am actively dedicated to my passions for music and for artistic handicrafts”. With a bit of luck, we can sometimes see his amazing, vintage guitars at the workshop. Jouko likes a lot running as a sport, and sometimes he comes to work driving his gorgeous vintage Volkswagen Beetle.
Julia is an entrepreneur with Sámi roots, born in 1984. She has an education in arts, and likes to use old Sámi symbols for her items, forms and combinations of materials. In her artistic work, she tries to combine respect for Sámi tradition with contemporary interpretations.
“I moved from Russian Lapland to Finnish Lapland many years ago. My family comes from the Barents Sea, where they lived in a very small village, but from which they were forced to move to a bigger city. In fact, I grew up in a big city. Some of the traditional knowledge disappeared as a result of the relocation, but since childhood I closely followed how my grandmother and my mother used to make traditional clothes, shoes and jewellery.
As a child of the North, Julia enjoys life with respect for nature and tries to live ecologically. “My favourite season is winter, when I love to draw and to sew. I love working with reindeer leather and to craft my Sámi jewellery, bags and clothes, using techniques I learned from my grandmother.”
Three years ago, together with Lukas, Julia founded the company Hilla House Oy, which now runs the brand LAURI and operates as a handicraft atelier, shop and guesthouse. The business is located at the historical site of the well-known Lauri knife and jewellery workshop in Rovaniemi, which had been established in 1924.“
Among my roles in the company are the marketing of handicraft products, product development, and making Sámi jewellery and bags myself. But especially I enjoy to run handicraft classes and thus to share with our visitors elements of the Sámi culture in a responsible way. I am very proud to be a part of the almost centennial history of the Lauri site.”
Lukas, born in 1981, is an anthropologist and historian of the North, and since 2017 proud partner of age-old, local LAURI knife and handicraft atelier in Rovaniemi at the Arctic Circle. Originally from Switzerland, he moved to Lapland in 2013 to join a research project at the Arctic Centre about the history and oral traditions of indigenous people in the Finnish and Russian Arctic.
“Doing historical research and being an entrepreneur in a local, traditional business has been a very interesting and mutually inspiring activity. Thus, I tried to involve a network of local indigenous people in the Russian part of Lapland by offering also their beautiful handicrafts for sale in our shop. We have also been conducting an exchange of experience between our ways of doing crafts here in Rovaniemi and their handicraft production in Lovozero (Luujavr), the main Sámi village on the Russian side of Lapland. I am proud that we managed to breathe new life into the Lauri manor by establishing a comfortable guesthouse in the previously unused premises of this unique property.”
In his free time Lukas loves riding on his fatbike through the forests, swamps and hills of Lapland, and in Winter also across the myriads of frozen lakes and rivers. Besides, he plays for classical piano passionately and loves riding his indestructible vintage Mercedes.
More about Lukas’ research can be found on arcticanthropology.org.