Turku Old and New

Artist(s):Katri Warén-Varis Date:1932 Medium:rug (Finnish ryijy, Swedish rya) Dimensions:175 x 146 cm

The motifs of Katri Warén-Varis’s rug are the University of Turku, the tower of Turku Cathedral with its jackdaws, the main building of Åbo Akademi University (the Trapp house), the Observatory, restaurant Pinella with its colonnade designed by architect P. J. Gylich, the Samppalinna windmill, the banks of the Aura River, the city library, Turku Castle and sailboats on the Aura River. The rug also contains the lily and Gothic letter A from Turku’s coat of arms.

The rug has also been available as a model for homemade rugs. Kotiteollisuusaitta Pirkko, a shop owned by Alli Sahlan, included it in its sales collection in 1931 under the name Aboa vetus et nova. The shop served at Yliopistonkatu 27 in Turku, which was also Warén-Varis’s home address. The version in the University’s collection is from 1932 and mentions the Finnish title of Daniel Juslenius’s book (Vanhaa ja uutta Turkua). The collections of the Museum Centre of Turku contain a version of the rug with the text in Latin (TMK21890). Åbo Akademi University also has its own version of the rug.

Warén-Varis served as the interior design expert during the early stages of the University, designing, for example, the curtains for the Rector’s office and the auditorium (apparently in the 1950s), as well as the ribbon of the Student Union.

Textile artist and designer Katri Warén-Varis (née Cannelin, 1891–1973) worked as an interior designer across a variety of fields in Turku. She studied at the model design department of the Central School of Applied Arts (currently known as Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture) in 1910–1913 and 1915–1916, when Armas Lindgren was the school’s artistic director, and married doctor Erkki Warén (later Warén-Varis) in 1913. In 1917, the family moved to Turku and in 1927 reserved an apartment in housing company Atrium at Yliopistonkatu 27. The Atrium property was designed by Erik Bryggman, and Erkki Warén had been one of the project’s initiators. Atrium was also the meeting place for Koskenniemi’s literary circle. The University of Turku was one of the providers of a mortgage loan to the housing company. Katri Warén-Varis designed all the movable interior elements of their home, as well as the fireplace in the library. Her husband played an important role in building a network among the intellectuals and entrepreneurs in Turku; he was the Chief Physician of the Heideken Maternity Hospital and his brothers were Harry Warén, the first Professor of Botany at the University of Turku, and Matti Warén, artist and stage designer. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Warén-Varis designed rug models on themes related to Turku’s history. In addition to textiles, she also designed furniture. The Boman furniture manufacturing company in Turku produced most of her furniture. After the death of her husband in 1939, she focused on managing a small interior design office and weaving shop in her home in Turku. In its most active period in the 1940s, the weaving shop employed three weavers. It was still active in the 1960s, when it produced textile art pieces designed by Eeva Renvall, Warén-Varis’s daughter.

Tutta Palin 2024

Soiri-Snellman, Helena. Asunto Oy Atrium. Erik Bryggman ja Turun arkkitehtuuri. Turku: As. Oy Atrium, 2010.

Svinhufvud, Leena. Moderneja ryijyjä, metritavaraa ja käsityötä. Tekstiilitaide ja nykyaikaistuva taideteollisuus Suomessa maailmansotien välisenä aikana. Helsinki: Design Museum, 2009.

“Turkulaisten ja varsinais-suomalaisten oma ryijy ‘Aboa vetus et nova’ (Vanhaa ja uutta Turkua).” Turun Sanomat, 15 November 1931.