Imagine a world where a saltwater food chain comes to life, a collection of vegetables takes center stage, and an acorn goes through its incredible development stages. Welcome to the whimsical realm of COMPANY, a Helsinki-based studio that weaves magic through its custom nesting dolls.

Let’s meet the brilliant minds behind this enchanting artistry – Aamu Song and Johan Olin, the founders of COMPANY. Over 15 years ago, they introduced us to Salakauppa, which translates to “secret shop” in Finnish. But what’s the secret? It’s the ingenious reinvention of traditional matryoshkas in a contemporary style. Using linden wood, a soft and easily workable material, Song crafts the designs, while skilled artisans in Semenov, Russia, meticulously bring these visions to life on a lathe.

The roots of these decorative dolls can be traced back to the late 19th century, when folk artist Sergey Malyutin and wood carver Vasily Zvyozdochkin joined forces to create the very first set. The concept was simple yet captivating – a series of dolls, each fitting perfectly inside the larger one. Typically, they depicted a mother doll with her children, including a tiny baby, nesting inside her. It was an instant hit!

But COMPANY takes this concept to a whole new level. They playfully reimagine the possibilities of matryoshka sets, portraying an astonishing range of families, flora, and fauna. With each set you open, a world of discovery awaits, as the inner dwellers reveal themselves one by one.

For more than a decade, Salakauppa graced a charming kiosk in central Helsinki. However, they’ve recently moved to a new storefront – a true “home and temple” for their ongoing Secrets series. The journey doesn’t end there; it continues to evolve, captivate, and bring joy to the hearts of those who step into this enchanting world.

If you’re curious to explore the wonderland of custom nesting dolls, check out Salakauppa’s website. Prepare to be mesmerized by the artistry, creativity, and boundless imagination that lie within each unique set. It’s a secret worth uncovering!

“Sea Matryoshka (A whale eats a seal that eats a penguin that eats a fish that eats a calamari that eats a sea cucumber, and finally, there’s a plankton)” (2013), linden, paint, and lacquer, 250 x 120 millimeters
“Kärpässieni (A set of four nesting Fly Agaric mushrooms)” (2015), linden, paint, and lacquer, 140 x 160 millimeters
“Oaknut Matryoshka (Tiny green oak nuts become big brown ones, then squirrel is happy)” (2013), linden, paint, and lacquer, 120 x 100 millimeters
“Sauna Family (A peaceful löyly moment in the hot sauna)” (2022), linden, paint, and lacquer, 120 x 245 millimeters
“Green Vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, artichoke, asparagus, cucumber, and green peas)” (2023), linden, paint, and lacquer, 120 x 180 millimeters
“The Bears (polar bear, brown bear, panda, moon bear, and Misha)” (2014), linden, paint, and lacquer, 210 x 120 millimeters. All designs by Aamu Song / COMPANY, produced in Semenov, Russia. Images © Salakauppa, shared with permission
Salakauppa display. Photo by Paavo Lehtonen
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