In anticipation of Earth Day, SALAKAUPPA’S Matryoshka dolls intrigue us to explore and appreciate nature’s variety of creatures on our beautiful but fragile planet, to consider their symbiotic relationships with each other and us. SALAKAUPPA's charming and fanciful creations use humor and artistry to put a new spin on a traditional craft and awaken the child in all of us.

SALAKAUPPA, (which means "Secret Shop"), is the brainchild of Korean-Finnish couple Aamu Song and Johan Olin, whose brand COMPANY is located in Helsinki, Finland.

A light-filled minimalist glass cube, the tiny but elegant shop, located in the center of Helsinki is worthy of a visit in itself. The shop is lined with shelves of artfully made and exquisitely curated collections ranging from traditional crafts such as felt shoes, toys, paper goods, and textiles to new takes on traditional crafts sourced and commissioned by Aamu and Johan for the COMPANY brand. Each collection begins with a journey by the design duo in pursuit of traditional crafts excellence which has taken them to manufacturers in Finland, Russia, Mexico, Japan, Estonia, Belgium, and Korea to commission products.

Matryoshka, or Russian nesting dolls, are a traditional Russian craft that originated in ancient China and Japan. They are colorful sets of lacquered wooden likenesses of decreasing size placed one inside another. The joy of opening a matryoshka is to discover the identity, decoration, and precise details in the ever-smaller inhabitants. 

SALAKAUPPA’​S Matryoshkas are hand-turned and hand-painted by traditional artisans using bright colors or black lacquer, combining patterned abstractions with delicate brushstrokes on light-as-a-feather linden wood whose golden tone may show through the negative space of the designs, adding to their luminosity. Aamu Song and Johan Olin’s whimsical design menagerie includes a plump, Day-Glo butterfly, golden-headed bee, green and purple dragonfly, and onion dome-shaped bells, even charming nesting acorns. All are expertly crafted and utterly irresistible.

The Bears Matryoshka, for instance, features five different bears: a giant polar bear, medium-sized brown bear, roly-poly panda, small moon bear, and tiny Misha bear, (Russia’s beloved Olympic mascot), all painted in black on blonde linden wood with gentle, expressive faces and coats drawn in feathery brushstrokes.

The Chestnut and Girl Matryoshka is like a day in the garden and contains five hand-painted dolls: a round, blossoming chestnut tree with a sturdy trunk, a girl in a broad-brimmed hat holding an ice cream cone, and three lollypop-shaped yellow flowers on stems in green pots.

The Snake Matryoshka has a funny and fascinating reveal. The white snake is decorated with fuchsia and blue spots and has a two-chamber belly containing both a mole and a mouse, each containing a colorful beetle.

SALAKAUPPA’S charming Matryoshkas spark our imaginations, inviting us to look within while reminding us to protect and conserve Earth’s interconnected bounty and diversity of creatures. Perfect for collectors of all ages, these superbly crafted artworks can be admired, played with, and passed down for generations.

Posted by J.B.

SHOP BLOG is written by the sales associates of SHOP Cooper Hewitt, bringing their singular design expertise into the digital realm.


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