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Belightful’s Butterfly Oasis takes flight

Belightful Design addresses the declining number of butterflies in Europe by offering them an eco-friendly feeder.Shutterstock

Where have all the butterflies gone? Finnish startup Belightful Design is bringing them back to our gardens with award-winning design.

Nature is a great source of wellbeing for people, believe Miia Liesegang and Taina Tallala. That is why the two founders of ecological design company Belightful Design are on a mission to improve the connection between people and nature. Their first target? Butterflies.

“About half of Europe’s butterfly population has been lost in the past 25 years,” explains Liesegang. “There are many reasons for this, but a major one is that their living environment is getting smaller. For example, in the UK almost 90 per cent of all natural fields have disappeared since the World War II.”

Belightful Design is doing its bit to change these numbers. In 2017 the company launched the Butterfly Oasis, a feeder which can be hung in a garden or a balcony and filled with nectar to nourish butterflies. While the oasis isn’t the first feeder on the market, Liesegang says it is the only one made from oil-free, recyclable material. In addition, its droplet-shaped design not only looks good but helps to keep other insects away from the nectar.

Flowers of Chelsea

The Butterfly Oasis’ eco-friendly design hasn’t gone unnoticed. In 2016, it was named the best sustainable business idea at Nordic interior design fair Formex and, in 2017, the oasis was chosen to be part of the prestigious garden event Chelsea Flower Show in London. The feeder has even been mentioned in the British edition of the fashion bible Vogue. 

The Butterfly Oasis butterfly feeder has received accolades for its eco-friendly material and design, including a mention in British Vogue. Image: Belightful Design

But the inspiration for the Butterfly Oasis came from a long way from the fashion world. As a designer, Liesegang always wanted to create products which are good for nature’s wellbeing, and butterflies as pollinators are essential for its biodiversity. She started to sketch a butterfly feeder back in 2009, but the time wasn’t right.

“The world was very different then,” Liesegang says. “But when the startup buzz and natural values started to take over newspaper headlines a few years ago, I started to think there could be a real need for this kind of product.”

She wasn’t wrong. Since Belightful Design was founded in 2016, the company has raised around 300 000 euros in funding, declined investment offers on Finnish Dragon’s Den (due to the investment terms) and expanded the Butterfly Oasis to 10 countries in Europe.

British landing

Despite spreading its wings in Continental Europe and starting small-scale pilots in the US, it is the UK which remains Beligthful Design’s key market. At least for now.

“There is a robust gardening culture in the UK and the market is a good size for us,” Liesegang explains. “Also, butterfly conservation is a big thing there.”

Belightful Design has already found a partner in Butterfly Conservation, a British charity devoted to saving butterflies, moths and their habitats.

The partnership is a good stepping stone for the company as Butterfly Conservation is one of the largest organisations of its kind in the world.

“There is always talk about bees, because they are big business, but butterflies are also important pollinators. They play a major role in guarding nature’s biodiversity,” says Miia Liesegang. Image: Belightful Design

But Belightful Design isn’t stopping at butterflies. Its long-term plan is to find an international partner to take the company to the next level and expand its product portfolio.

“We believe the wellbeing of people and nature are closely interlinked. We aim to launch further products that improve this connection,” Liesegang concludes.

By: Eeva Haaramo