published in SSAW Magazine Spring/Summer 2012, p. 52-57

Juha Marttila, Design Director of Accessories at Nina Ricci, opens up his bag for SSAW.

Hi Juha, how are you today?
Very cold. Exceptionally, it’s snowing and below zero in Paris today.

You joined Nina Ricci in 2009, a mo- ment of change. What was that like?
Change is always invigorating and exciting. It gives you the possibility to challenge yourself. Hopefully I’ve been able to rise to these challenges.

What’s changed since then? Both for you and the brand?
We’re climbing a steep upward learning curve and building our business in tough finan­ cial times. But we’re moving in a very positive direction. With every collec­ tion we try to better ourselves, our limits and our targets.

Have you hit any bumps in the road that you’d like to share with us?

I try not to dwell in the past and certainly not on my failures. I hope to learn from them and move on fast.

How do you motivate yourself?
I’m lucky enough to have a job that is ex­ citing and diverse enough that I ac­ tually get out of bed every morning feeling motivated and inspired.

What’s it like to work with Peter Copping?
It’s very easy and enjoyable to work with Peter. Both of us are rela­ tively calm and we both appreciate details, form and quality. Peter has an amazing eye for colour and an un­ canny and effortless ability to add a contemporary twist to tradition.

Could you take us through how the evolution of a Nina Ricci accessories collection differs from the evolution of the ready-to-wear line?
They’re si­multaneously very different and very similar. It’s important to us that the products reflect the general spirit of the house as opposed to a fleeting seasonal inspiration.

How many people work in your team? 
We are a small very democrat­ ic team of five.

What’s your leadership style? Are you more of a charming dictator or a BFF? 
I try to listen to the girls around me as much as I can.

How do you feel about handbags for men? 
I think you can never have enough!

What kind of bag do you carry? 
I constantly change bags depending on the weather, season and where I’m going. I have a pretty vast number of bags in my closet, but it always feels like I never have the right one.

Do you remember what kind of bag your mother used to wear? 
Unfortu­nately, I don’t have a clue. Nowadays she’s a loyal fan of Nina Ricci bags, as long as they come with a handy shoulder strap.

Do you ride horses? Or do you at least like horses? 
I only ride my bicycle in Paris.

What toys did you play with as a child?
My absolute favourite were Lego toys, I loved to build boats.

Why do you feel the urge to create and to be creative? 
I have a real passion for this profession and the craftsmanship that goes into making quality bags, which for me is a cons­ tant source of inspiration. It amuses me and keeps me young at heart.

What do you love and/or hate about fashion? 
I hate the futile consume­ rism side and love the uncompromi­ sing devotion and savoir­faire that go into making a timeless object.

What’s the biggest cliché about your work? 
That we are all hysterical su­ perficial ‘artists’.

Is there any truth at all to that cliché?
Not at all.

What’s your favourite bag from the new collection? 
My favourite bag is always the one I’m working on for the next collection.

How would you describe ‘perfect femininity’? 
It’s a balance of self­assurance, spontaneity and individuality.

Do you personally love decoration and exuberance? 
I find simplicity a braver and a bolder choice, but when necessary I can also accommodate the occasional need for decoration and exuberance.

Art Deco or Surrealism? 
Art Deco.
Round or square? 
Je suis carré, but I prefer rounded edges.

Black or colour? 

What’s your favorite colour?

What is your favourite painting or sculpture? 
James Turrell’s Meeting installation at PS1 in New York.

Do you collect art?
I try to buy con­ temporary Finnish photography. My latest acquisition is a photo by Pentti Sammallahti which I discovered by pure chance in a gallery in Paris. It’s a picture of storm clouds over Airisto in Finland, which is where I used to spend my summers when I was young.

Who is your favourite new or emerging designer? 
My good friends Ed­ward and Ben from the label Mead­ham Kirchhoff who have had the strength to believe in their singular vision throughout all these years.

What is your favourite macaroon flavour? 
Caramel beurre salé.

Where do you live?
We live just out­ side Paris – close enough to the city that we can take the metro yet far enough that we have a bit more space and a garden for our dog.

Do you keep a personal archive of your designs? 
No. It’s all in my head. As I prefer working in 3D format, keeping everything would take up far too much space.

What other little treasures do you collect? 
Stones and driftwood.

Besides handbags, what accessories intrigue you most?

Is there a particular woman that you admire for her choice of handbags?
Anna dello Russo.

Who do you most like to ‘accessorise’?
The woman who really falls in love with my bag and not with its label.

What can a handbag do for a woman’s posture, attitude and sex appeal? 
The 3 P’s: protection, privacy and power.

Would you describe yourself more as a visionary or an artisan?
I’m very crafty, but unfortunately I lack the patience to do more than stapling bag shapes together.

What makes you fall in love with a person?
Their eyes.

What’s on your current inspiration board?
Hunting belts and vintage cosmetic cases.

What does luxury mean to you?
Time and peace of mind.

How would your friends describe you in three words?
Reliable, calm and easygoing.

How would you like your friends to describe you in three words? 
Adven­turous, funny and spontaneous.

What do you love about Finland?
Peace and nature.

Where did you grow up? 
In the coas­tal region surrounding Turku.

Name three Finnish things that are near and dear to your heart? 
Rye crisp bread, the Finnish sauna, and Lapland.

What’s your favourite Finnish word and what does it mean?
Hämärä = twi­light... I love the number of ä’s in this word and it just corresponds so well to Finland.

What’s it like to live in Paris?
I’ve moved around quite a bit and nowadays I’m constantly living out of a suitcase, so I kind of feel rootless. I don’t really think of myself as being very Parisian.

Do you go back to Finland often or are you happy to have escaped? 
I do oc­casionally miss Finland and I’ve even toyed with the idea of moving back there one day. But then, when I visit Finland and it gets really ‘hämärä’, I’m instantly cured of my homesickness.

And finally, what’s the most beautiful thing on earth? 
The sea.