Verso Design makes beauty functional
This Finnish family company produces household items that make everyday life easier and prettier – so, overall, happier – whilst making them all long-lasting in terms of style, quality and sustainability.
When Verso Design was founded in late 1997 by mother and daughter Kirsikka Savonen and Tuttu Sillanpää, sustainability was nowhere near the buzzword it is now.
“It has really been remarkable how much things have changed in the past years and how much more aware consumers are these days,” says Tuuli Burman, Sillanpää’s sister and a core member of the Verso team since the very beginning. “People really pay much more attention.”
However, Verso’s interior design and home furnishing products aren’t made sustainably and as locally as possible because it’s trendy. Burman emphasises that the owners have always thought that if they do what feels right and good, others will feel it too.
“Now we can see how beneficial it can be, but it was never something we did just for profit.”
Verso Design wants to make products that last in every respect, ranging from production to style and quality. The materials are mainly of natural origin, and the idea is to combine classic Nordic traditions and contemporary design.
“You could say we take a traditional material, such as felt, and just create something new out of it. Similarly, our woven birch baskets are updated versions of something really old and familiar.”
All started with one
Over 20 years after its birth, Verso Design launches new products twice a year, its collection including items like lifestyle and kitchen products, rugs and scarves. Originally it all started with just one thing: Savonen and Sillanpää won a wood innovation award with a rug made of wood and linen. With the prize money, they decided to commercialise their innovation.
“My mother was an interior architect and furniture designer, and my sister was a textile artist and a designer as well,” Burman explains. “I was still in my teens when the company was founded, but pretty soon I jumped on board.”
Whatever type of product the designers are working on, one thing is not compromised: the products need to be both functional and beautiful. Burman says that Verso doesn’t make mere decorations; instead, all items serve a purpose. The firm’s slogan is, tellingly, “functional beauty inspired by life”.
By life, Burman says, Verso means pretty much everything everywhere. The aim is to look around oneself and see many, including tiny and perhaps surprising things.
“We want our products to make everyday life easier, prettier and more pleasant.”
New ideas in the making
From the word go, it was clear that Verso would head outside the borders of its home country. Burman notes that the market for relatively pricey design products is quite limited in a country the size of Finland.
The first international steps were taken in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, and slowly but surely the number of both markets and products has grown. Recently, wood has taken a more visible role in the company’s collections, which Burman attributes to her husband’s presence in the company – as he happens to be a carpenter.
Currently, Verso Design’s biggest fan base can be found in Japan, and the company has partners here and there, including the US and various European countries. One new and intriguing market is South Korea, where marketing efforts are underway.
New plans are brewing all the time, be it looking for new markets or coming up with new materials or products. Just as we speak, the family team complemented by other designers are creating ideas for the coming autumn.
“There’s always plenty of ideas, but we’ll need to choose the ones to go forward with all the way to an actual product. That’s always a long road!”
Text: Anne Salomäki