Towards pine or not?

Tapio Anttila

Why must we import wood to Finland?
You don't think about this often, but when you do, it sounds crazy. It would be same as if tulips were exported to Holland, beer to Belgium or Christmas trees to Finland. There must be some reasonable explanation for this.


Have you ever thought that Christmas trees are actually brought to Finland? Denmark is the world's largest exporter of Christmas trees. It is also the world's largest exporter with wooden design furniture. At the same time, Denmark is one of the least forested countries in Europe relative to its area.

Danish brands have been heralds of Scandi style in the world for a long time. The most distinctive element for it has been oak as a material, which has established its place in all corners of the world. Oak is so popular in interior design that other types of wood can't compete with it for a place in the frame of a chair or the top of a table.

So how do the Jutes do all this compared to us people from Härmälä? There are probably many answers to this and here is one short one. When the forests had been completely cut down in Denmark several hundred years ago, it was necessary to focus on something other than just selling raw material. This forced them to develop marketing and sales expertise for the most refined products and services outside the country's borders. And subsequently this led to the creation of global brands.

In Finland, the 70s and 80s were the golden age of pine and birch, when they were used a lot in interiors. We still have plenty of both in the forests. Now more wood is cut than ever and our forests have even turned into a source of emissions. Pine and birch rarely end up as materials for modern design furniture anymore. Why is this? Well, at least we haven't been able to brand our precious trees. Or, in fact, we can't see the forest from the trees, because a tree is quite self-evident "bulk" for us.


Domestic trees are even more valuable due to the transparency of their origin

I have always been interested in pine and birch. As the final project of my studies, I designed a modern pine table and cabinet set. The pine boom was already over by then and it was a rejected and untrendy material, especially among designers. I wanted to show that, alongside the red beech and mahogany that were popular of that time, you could still design pine furniture, but as modern version. Well - I think the critics were a bit startled by my strange definition of this material.

Now we have talked a lot with our team about bringing pine and birch products to our collection. Birch can be found in the Aski series and in all our chairs. Regarding pine, I went from words to action and this autumn we launched the new pine Kaiku sofa bed. It has varied the familiar structure from our other sofa beds, but together with pine, it brings a new essence to it. The "echo" (Kaiku) on the sofa is undeniably echoes from the world of my childhood.

Get to know Kaiku in more detail here.

In the spring of 2023, we will complete the Front table series with a pine top. The thick table top brings back memories of traditional log cabin tables.

In connection with pine, there is always talk of its softness, branches and darkening. In the branding of this traditional softwood, this should not be denied, but should be made as a feature of the material. In my opinion, pine patinates beautifully. Findings in antique shops are not filed with compensation claims, but rather admired. Undeniably, the Interval between new and patinated wood may bother some. "It's a bit like growing a sideburn" (a quote from our product coordinator Severi), when there is a certain amount of time between the short and long sideburns. A solid wood cover can always be easily sanded if you want to keep it looking new and it is still practically forever.

Judging from the latest fairs, now might be the time to go for the pine tree. We introduced the Kaiku sofa at Habitare and we heard comments from older visitors like: "Wow, now is the time for pine again". From the most inexperienced I heard: "Hey, what is this great wood?". Habitare's international friend Joseph Grima, a British architect, researcher, journalist, curator and creative director, chose the best products and phenomenon of the fair. He chose a pine tree as one of them and Vaarni and us shared this token of attention. You can read more about the topic here.


Inspired by all of this, we have thought that we would test production of one of the products I designed in my final work. It is a traditional peasant corner cabinet, which has been given a more modern look in my processing. The cabinet does not need to be attached to the wall, it leans into a corner and stays upright on two legs. We will start with this first and see if the market is going towards pine or not. Hopefully we'll be back here soon...

- Tapio