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Five from Finland

Wooden products

Much innovation is going on in this neck of the woods.

Julia Bushueva

Finland has a deep connection with forests, which populate 75 per cent of its land mass. Here are five ways in which wood is the focus of local innovation.

The thin wooden drum shells produced by this company resonate strongly when played softly, thus allowing drummers to minimise the amount of energy expended when laying down a beat. A drum’s low, sustaining sound also has extra meaning for Kumu, with the company taking its name from the Finnish word to describe such. Fittingly, ‘kumu’ also refers to a certain booming sound made by thunderstorms.

“I have done many unique patterns and finishes,” said Pekka Helanen. “Some have even wanted their kit to look like it is really old and beaten, even rusty. People are always so happy when they get their drums. They admire the finish and later have told me that they have stepped up levels with their playing.”

This company’s selling point is Finnish wood, particularly curly birch. Aside from watches, Aarni sells wooden sunglasses and wallets.

“A wooden watch is really light, always warm and doesn’t make its wearer’s wrist sweat,” Niklas Tuokko stated . “Similarly, wooden eyeglasses are softer than plastic ones and, more than anything, they’re classy. It’d be difficult to copy the unique pattern of wood.”

Fuelled by collaborations with Finnish design maestros, Nikari recently celebrated its 50th year of creating premium, sustainable solid-wood furniture.

“We value timeless design and combine proven, traditional wooden joints with contemporary forms,” CEO Johanna Vuorio told us. “Sustainability is very important to us. We mostly work with public premises, but our furniture is increasingly bought for private homes around the world.”

This company has a wooden design item called The Seed, but it is perhaps best known for publishing a series of three wood-themed books. These it describes as philosophical contemplations for adults in the form of illustrated children’s books.

“I’ve read all kinds of texts in my life, and I can’t really explain what was so captivating about [the first book of the series] The Carpenter,” founder and owner Markus Pyhältö said. “But it did stop me in my tracks and left me thinking.”

This company started out by taking an artisan approach to protecting smartphones and has since seen demand for its products outweigh supply. Now its range has extended to include wallets, posters and sleeves made from felt.

“In Finland, using wood is a genuinely ethical way to produce merchandise,” chairperson of the board Jussi Patopuro told us. “The supply chains are sustainable, we use wood from certified forests and never resort to species of trees that are endangered.”

Originally published in August 2018

By: James O’Sullivan