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NORTHERN OSTROBOTHNIA MUSEUM | 28.2.–19.8.2018

Arabia items from private collection

An Oulu couple was bitten by the collecting bug approximately six years ago. Today, the coffee cup collection of Marko Laukkanen and Susanna Hyykoski comprises hundreds of coffee sets produced by the Arabia ceramics factory in the 1960s and the 1970s – those fascinating decades of retro cool.

"When we started collecting them we were so excited that we scanned flea markets a couple of times every week and went to antique fairs all the time. On our summer holidays we toured shops in Southern Finland. Now, as our collection has grown, it has become more difficult to make real finds." The collection has also been built by buying Arabia dishes online. Imperfections, however, are not easy to see in website images. "In the beginning we did not mind small defects." However, when the hobby becomes more serious, every imperfection becomes disturbing – such as cracking of the glazing, dark spots and even the smallest of dents. In that case the decision to buy is often not, in the end, made. The hobby has not remained on mere inspection of the surface level: reference works and literature have also been studied.

Gradually the collection has expanded from retro coffee sets to sugar and cream dishes designed to accompany them. The collection also features a nearly complete set of Arabia's popular animal-themed milk jugs: the Heluna, Perho, Lintu and the cat jugs – only one particular jug is yet to be found. And there is simply nothing more retro than the Pomona decoration from the 1960s and the 1970s. "I'm sure there was at least one Pomona dish in every second kitchen in the 1970s", Marko Laukkanen muses.

How did it all begin? The couple has no difficulty pointing out the very first item of their collection: it was a series of four turquoise Pop cups which Susanna bought as a present for her mother from the Oulu Antique Fair. Her mother had had a set of similar cups sometime in the 1970s. At the next fair Susanna bought three turquoise Pop cups for her own home, and that is how it started.

Why coffee cups? Why not something else? "The cups did not take up so much space – not at first. We initially bought them as decorations because of their bright colours. Back then you could still find items in good condition in flea markets, and you could find different colours and models almost every week. A little later, without us really noticing anything, we had dozens of cups – and there simply was no return!", Marko and Susanna reminisce.

The exhibition also explores the cultural history of the favourite beverage of the Finns.

THE ARABIA FACTORY THE ARABIA FACTORY

Arabia, a subsidiary of the Swedish company Rörstrand, was established in 1873, and started production in Helsinki in 1874.

In 1916, Arabia became an independent Finnish company. One hundred years later in 2016 the ceramic ovens in Arabianranta in Helsinki were switched off for the last time, and the production operations of the company, now owned by the Fiskars conglomerate, were moved primarily to Thailand.

Collectors Marko Laukkanen and Susanna Hyykoski.