Sep 10, 2014

POP by Jaana Karell

Long before we had even found a new circular staircase (when the space still looked like a match box), the idea of the future wall decoration and related lighting already existed. As the back wall is quite spacious, we wanted the decoration to be something quite prominent, yet elegant and timeless, something which would again complement the original spirit of the apartment.

For once, the choice was not difficult. We both really love the look and feel of the POP panels designed by Jaana Karell ( and produced by a Finnish company Brainwood. These stunning wooden panels can already be found in several prominent locations such as Google and Microsoft in New York, Disney Studios in Hollywood, CNN in Atlanta, Federal Trade Commission and Hard Rock Café in Las Vegas. And finally, also now in our home!

POP panels by Jaana Karell

Jaana Karell is a Finnish designer who specializes in wood. She collaborates with various companies both as a consultant and by designing her own collections. Jaana and Pekka actually used to study in the same design school back in the 90's and thus go way back in time.

Since she was on a third grade, Jaana has been keen on carpentry. She loves using wood as a raw material in her designs, and the haptic aspect of wood is often strongly emphasized in her work. She finds that even if flat and clear surfaces are often preferred by designers, sometimes the essence of wood can be cleverly accentuated by the design of a given piece. For example, POP panels feel very soft to touch, so in addition to being visually appealing, the haptic experience is also very pleasant.

POP panels connecting the two floors

According to Jaana, in the development of POP panels the leading driver was to bring the designer's vision into reality. The original idea revolved around a timeless piece with a 70's feel, which she was keen on creating, even if the initial response from manufacturing companies was that it couldn't be done. "The bubbles edge is too sharp, the shape is not going to hold, the plywood will rip from the middle or that the ring shape around the bubble is not going to work" were some of the objections she faced. Therefore, she took action and made the molds for the prototypes herself to test the idea. Subsequently, one manufacturing company agreed to conduct a set of test presses if she would be able provide them the molds. So even if she was a student at the time, she paid the expensive molds from her own pocket and yes, the rest is history.

Box of teak panels

POP panels are commercially available in three different wood finishes: birch, cherry and walnut. Yet none of these materials, however, quite fit our home (we tend to be "teak people"). Also we are  constructing a teak slat wall downstairs, so the panel solution needed to meet these specific needs.

This is when the big idea of producing a custom panel set with teak was born. Again, we turned to the best source for veneer here in Finland: Janne Kuokkanen from Hollolan viilu ja laminaatti. Janne agreed to provide the suitable teak veneer for Brainwood, so they could produce the very first prototype set of teak panels. At this time, no one knew how well teak would settle in this particular form.

POP panels fresh out of the box

A bit of time passed, and after a seemingly long wait we received a shipment of thirty teak panels, both with curved and flat profiles. It is not an exaggeration to say it was love at first sight. With the teak veneer they had turned out perfect!

The panels arrived with an intelligent railing system made of extruded aluminum to be used as a wall fixture. According to Jaana the way the panels were to be fixed on a preferred surface played a critical part in developing process of the POP panels. The system needed to be invisible and seams in between the panels were designed to be as clean and unnoticeable as possible.

Aluminium profiles

Fixing the panels to the wall is very easy. Of course, it is important to start with a well leveled row of panels. Here again a laser proved indispensable to get the first aluminum profile perfectly horizontal. Once the profile is fixed, you simply place the panels on top of the rail. After this, you fix the next rail on top of the row of panels and keep repeating this until you reach the desired height.

First row up

Following the installation instructions, the system is really straightforward and fast to work with. The only real challenge for us was the height of the staircase (about six meters). It was a bit difficult to reach the upper rows, but with some previously practised ladder acrobatics Pekka succeeded to fix even the top row nicely in place.

Fully assembled set of panels

A charming curiosity absolutely worth of mentioning is the potential optical illusion of the POP panels. Sometimes a viewer might be a bit confused whether he or she is looking at a convex or a concave shape. In our set up, we wanted to light the panels from the side to enhance the 3D experience. For this, the adaptability of the Flos Parentesi lights proved to be quite ideal.

Pop & Parentesi - simply a perfect match

The POP panels are available in Finland via Brainwood and in USA via HighTower. Also, if you happen to be in Helsinki during the next five days, and are thinking of visiting the Habitare Furniture/Interior Decoration/Design Fair (10-14 September 2014), make sure to check out the POP panels at booth 7P67.

In their simplicity, the panels are really unbelievably beautiful. Needless to say, we just can't get enough of them.


  1. Thank you Pekka and Minna!! Looks really good :)
    Love Jaana

    1. Thank you Jaana for creating such wonderful product out of wood. It is simply fantastic!

  2. minkä hintaisia per/kpl? hienolta näyttää!

    1. Moikka! Tuotteen hintoja kannattaa kysellä suoraan Brainwoodilta. Jos olet menossa Habitareen niin POP paneelit ovat myös siellä esillä yrityksen osastolla. Osaavat varmasti antaa hinnan per/kpl.

  3. Aivan uskomattoman hienoja! Erityisesti tuo valaistus hellii kaunista puun pintaa.


    1. Eikö olekin upeita! Kiitos siitä kuuluu toki Jaanalle, joka on tämän kerrassaan kauniin tuotteen suunnitellut. Yhdistettynä valaistukseen tuo tilaan mukavasti lämpöä ja yhdistää ylä- ja alakerran.

  4. Your work is really appreciable. You have done great job and I am impressed with your work.

    1. Jean,
      Thank you for your positive feedback. It is always nice to hear how someone appreciates the work we have done in our home. We hope you continue to read our updates also in the future!