Noble legacy of our grandparents

Tapio Anttila

"We all have that older grandmother who has washed and collected yogurt jars, bread bags as well as their closures. Our grandparents didn't throw anything away and all the items were repaired and used as long as possible. Here lies a great wisdom that we can learn from today - maybe more than we even guess."


We all have that older grandmother who has washed and collected yogurt jars, bread bags as well as their closures. Or grandpa who has saved all the wooden blocks, screws and nails for a need that may never come. I confess that I myself have been guilty of scoffing at this kind of frugality, but I have since come to understand its wisdom. Even if we go a little further back in time, our ancestors always used material sparingly, and nothing was wasted. These principles are now more relevant than we realize, when we think about what actions we can do for the benefit of our common environment.


"We have a lot to learn from our traditions and we can offer the wisdom that lies there when we design new products."


As a designer, I have always tried to follow this noble legacy of our grandparents. Responsible design is one of the most important actions in the product process. That's why I want to open up a little bit of a product case, tell you what is hidden behind it. Most of the planning always takes place at the beginning of the chain, when all the most important choices and decisions are made. At the same time, we decide the product's carbon footprint, durability, service life, etc. As a designer, I am therefore a big user of power, who should also be aware of his responsibility, which starts with the first strokes of the pen in the sketchbook.


The example case is the birth of the new Renki series and the role of the older Day&Night sofa bed at its beginning. This popular sofa bed contains two wooden-framed beds. The Renki series is again a small decorating items series, which includes shelves, a coat rack and a shoe rack. It all actually started with the fact that the wooden frame of the sofa is 2 meters long and the lumber coming to the manufacturer is 3 meters long. It means that about 80 cm of waste pieces remain from the production, which would otherwise go to the chipper. After hearing this, I started to think about how to use that surplus wood. Little by little, the ideas materialized into a shelf, from which the first prototypes were made. The product worked well and the series was expanded to other products. This is how the idea of the parallel manufacturing process of products developed. It developed into an entity where the use of material is optimal and there is almost no waste. 


In addition to this, we calculate the carbon footprint of all our products. Regarding the sofa, the calculation takes into account the waste percentage of the wood material, which is approx. 50%. Renki products are made from that waste, and the wood used is not taken into account in the calculation of its carbon footprint, because it is already included in the "parent product". Products designed and manufactured from waste materials will therefore have a carbon footprint that is almost zero in terms of materials.

This was a slightly different "Behind design" story. A product can get an initial push in many different ways. Often for me it is a practical problem or a need in home decoration. In this case, the need came from a slightly different direction and the starting points were more in terms of responsibility. Still, the end result was practical small items - and they don't leave very big marks behind.

- Tapio


PS  Check out the Day&Night sofa bed and the Renki series.