Maria and Jussi Laine
Maria and Jussi Laine form Nemo Architects, a studio working not only on buildings but also furniture, interior and conceptual design. Having worked with several kinds of projects during the years, they have been pondering about whether they should narrow down their field, building a brand that determines what they're concentrating in. But they don't want to do that. "Our strength is in seeing things in new light, in a new way. We do not want to stick to specialising in only one thing", Maria elaborates. That's in fact where the name, Nemo, comes from. A latin word for nobody, Nemo describes their ability to recreate themselves when facing a new project, delving into it and constantly learning more.
Because of their knowledge on buildings and spaces, Maria and Jussi are also experts when it comes to discussing light. "We shouldn’t forget that light is also a physical phenomenon", explains Jussi, "it makes things visible, gives us warmth but also when adjusting the light it creates different kinds of atmospheres". Since they're living and working mainly on buildings located in Finland, the changing seasons, the quality and the amount – or the lack of – light set them certain ground rules on working on architectural projects.
Though the lack of light is tiring, people still have to try and be as productive and energetic as any other time of the year. Maria is interested in questioning the proper amount of artificial light in homes and especially public spaces. Some stores, libraries and schools are almost too bright, too unnatural. "There are certain rules for the minimum amount of light for public spaces, but there should also be a limit for the maximum", she says. Maria and Jussi have a bright light luminary in their home kitchen. "It's a discussion we have almost every morning", Maria says, "I can't stand the bright light one bit, I would much rather turn it off and settle for starting my day in candlelight". But Jussi insists keeping the light on saying it's the only way to wake his system up. "I'm not saying it's pleasant but it does work, probably the same way a cold shower does", Jussi explains.
‘We shouldn’t forget that light is also a physical phenomenon...it makes things visible, gives us warmth but also when adjusting the light it creates different kinds of atmospheres.’
Jussi Laine, 2020
When Maria studied in Portugal, she learnt the ways to use light was very different there. "Light was wanted to flow in indirectly and not to warm up the space", Maria says. Requirements for light differ quite a bit up North, where the seasons change the amount and duration of light. In Finland light is an element that is wanted to give visibility but also to double as a heater. Sometimes it goes to extremes: "some people want huge windows facing South and then try to neutralise the situation by installing massive air conditioning systems. It makes no sense", Maria continues. When placed according to the surroundings and designed carefully, windows give decent amount of light but also offer beautiful views.
Light is a strong, vital element giving both visibility and ambiance. "A fellow architect Juha Leiviskä once commented on a phrase that described architecture being like frozen music. He said that it isn't so: buildings are like instruments that are played by the light", Jussi says.
‘buildings are like instruments that are played by the light.’