A.S.Helsingö makes quality and design affordable
A Finnish company thrives with a unique blend of old world craftsmanship and an innovative digital business model that harnesses the reach of Ikea.
Practically everyone would like a quality design kitchen, but few are willing or able to pay the costs. Now a company has come up with a solution which combines traditional craftsman quality with modern affordability.
“A.S.Helsingö was founded on the belief that everyone deserves beautiful homes which are pleasant to live in – with an affordable price tag,” says Sebastian Schauman. “We want to make design more democratic. A beautiful home should not depend on the thickness of your wallet.”
Schauman and his co-founder Anssi Jokinen had a simple yet revolutionary idea. They would provide high-quality made-to-order doors and handles to fit Ikea cabinet frames. This way A.S.Helsingö could offer kitchen cabinets, wardrobes and sideboards which have a true design feel but are much more affordable. The selection is designed by Scandinavian designers and made by Finnish master craftsmen.
Overwhelming online response
“The response has been overwhelming, especially online,” Jokinen continues. “Younger people in the creative industries have been particularly excited to see a new, fresh alternative on the market. They also find it more natural to purchase fixtures online instead of a traditional brick-and-mortar store. All our products are purchased online.”
Although until now their business has been housed on the Internet, A.S.Helsingö will soon open a showroom in downtown Helsinki. Clients can visit the showroom to see products and compare colour samples before making their orders online. But the real work the company does is far from the metropolitan area and is instead found deep in the Finnish heartland surrounded by pine forests and blue lakes.
“Quality plays a central role in what we do,” says Jokinen. “Our doors are made with traditional methods and quality materials in the Finnish lake district. Our factory has been known for high-quality woodwork for several generations. We want to continue this tradition.”
The process of purchasing a kitchen is straightforward. A client measures her space and makes design choices. Next, she orders Ikea cabinet frames from the METOD or PAX range, followed by the order to A.S.Helsingö for doors, handles, table tops, sinks and taps. Finally, the products are delivered and assembled.
“As living space shrinks and gets more expensive, incorporating kitchens seamlessly into the interior décor become increasingly important,” Schauman says. “Our selection allows for letting the customers create their own unique products that fit their personality and taste.”
There is a lot to choose from. A.S.Helsingö offers a customised style with a menu of options that can be combined in multiple ways to create a personalised product.
“In recent months we have received serious interest from the other Nordic countries and Northern Europe,” says Schauman. “Sales to Stockholm have especially picked up and we’re looking into opening a showroom there next year.”
They consider the Nordic region as their home market and plan to expand to continental Europe in the next couple of years.
“We also offer affordable and great-looking updates to Ikea kitchens and wardrobes which are already installed: you can get an upgraded new style with our designs,” he concludes. “This is sustainable and smart.”
Text: David J. Cord