“People are hives…”
— Virginia Woolf

Once in a while, you meet someone who really makes you stop for a moment, and think a little differently about how you view the world. It might be the inflection in her voice, the way she phrases words like a singer would, how her eyes twinkle when she engages you in conversation, or how she can explain a point of view on any given matter with refreshing earnestness. Sanna Russo, who has worked in the MacKenzie-Childs furniture decorating department for nearly twenty years, is most definitely one of those people. I’ve observed her over the years as she sits at her decorating station quietly working away on countless projects, some of incredible complexity and demanding of exceptional skills; she’s like a one-woman arts-and-crafts movement! Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with Sanna and learn a bit more about exactly what makes her tick.

She grew up on a small farm in Finland among a very interesting family of five: her father a farmer, and her mother a farmer’s wife who was also a sculptor, whose pursuit in the arts was very active throughout the ’80s and ’90s. The entire family cherished education, and Sanna credits her mother for helping encourage her talent in painting and the arts. She claims this early training as a child is where she first developed her ability to see things dimensionally, constantly studying light and shadow while observing her mother sculpting gypsum cast reliefs and busts. In addition to her unbelievable skills with a brush, Sanna is also an incredible and avid knitter, trained in traditional Scandinavian techniques.

She adores where she now lives, tucked away in a quiet corner of the Finger Lakes. Despite the onward rush of society, satellite television, and the ubiquitous Internet, she feels people here are still profoundly connected to nature and the earth. This is important to her in that it’s exactly how she grew up; she even knows how to drive a workhorse! (How many people do you know who can do that?) Sanna also loves the very diverse and colorful nature of her colleagues at MacKenzie-Childs and deeply appreciates the idea of sharing stories of our experiences as a way of contributing to each other.

True to her old-world heritage, where everyone absorbs knowledge and skills from the older generation, Sanna is also an exceptional cabinet maker. At the age of seven, her father gave her a carving knife as a birthday present because he grew tired of her dulling, or sometimes even losing, his carving knives. Today, her left hand is full of scars earned while learning woodcarving. Sanna went on to attend Lahti Institute of Industrial Design in Finland. Her teacher once said “I will never be able to teach you all what you can do, but I can show you what you should not do.” And finally: “Don’t cut your fingers off!”

Today we all feel so fortunate to be able to work side-by-side with such a wonderful talent, and incredibly precious person.










Sanna Russo, furniture decorator since 1996.

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5 Responses to Sanna

  1. Gina Sterkel says:

    Such a talented lady. Enjoyed reading about her and her passions. I am very much looking forward to my very first trip to NYC this week. Coming to MacKenzie Childs is on the top of my list. Can’t wait to add another piece to my courtly checked collection.
    Thanks for sharing her story with us.

    • sanna says:

      Thank you for your response. It makes me very glad to receive appreciation like yours.
      I will be there to make many more finishes on the pieces of furniture that you have liked or might appreciate in the future.Have a wonderful beginning of this colourful Autumn season! Yours sanna

  2. Laura Sullivan says:

    I LOVE how art can make the world so connected and differences seen with awe instead of fear!

    • sanna says:

      That’s what Art to me is about,Laura: Feelings and appreciations for the fundamental strengths of Life are the same all over the world. How we communicate them from one culture to another…is still in process,getting better,though. One big threshold to unity is creativity(and my case,painting)without words but images.Like rock paintings. Images still speak to us after so many centuries lived.Life Blessyou.sanna

  3. sanna says:

    Dearest Rebecca,
    Thank you for your kind words! It has been such a joy to get to spend time with you , your imagination and creativity through all these years! Your energy is so inspiring! You are able to find time for people around you through your busy days,and let them know that they are appreciated. Where ever you are around the World today I’ll be looking forward to meet you at Mackenzie-Childs again! 🙂 sanna

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