Everything was better before

Tapio Anttila

In my childhood, when the garden swing or chair in the yard started to deteriorate, it was repainted - either with the original colour or with some passing fashion colour of the wild 70s. This was done without even thinking about it. It was a natural way to extend the life cycle of things or recycle - before those terms even existed. Could this still work today, and could the furniture have been originally designed to be like that when it was new?

The short answer to that is - it could.

"A quiet summer day at the beginning, the sun has not yet reached its maximum height and it is still pleasantly cool. Flies buzz and butterflies flutter in the fluttering air. The morning coffee has already been drunk, and there is no special program planned for the day. Today you could paint the newly acquired garden furniture. Little and unhurried tinkering makes you feel good when something useful is done. At the same time, it offers a good counterweight to the boring day job - for once, you get something visible done right away. It's nice to have some colour on the terrace anyway. Should I suggest to my spouse that we do the job together?"

Well, yes, the previous one may have sounded a bit like a creamy coffee commercial. But really - we have forgotten handicraft, both as a word and a deed. Of course, this is not possible for everyone, but that's why I thought about how, as a designer myself, I could lower this threshold.

"Have we forgotten handicraft?
  Both as a word and a deed?"

We had been thinking for some time that we would like to offer our customers a responsible outdoor furniture series.
It should have such experiences and solutions that he cannot get elsewhere. From this, I started to think about what the new concept could contain, and the first thing that came to mind was manor-style wooden lounge chairs, sofas, and tables. They were always painted and resistant to both time and weather. They were always service painted when necessary and over time the layers of paint thickened. You could see how old the furniture was from the thickness of the paint, and the patina of time only increased its charm. I was thinking about how I would update the same speech concept and nostalgic atmosphere to today. In addition, I wanted to offer something easy and comfortable to do, which would build a closer relationship with the furniture itself for the user. In terms of style, the series should match today's architecture, but why not also a more picturesque milieu.

It was pretty clear that the material for the new furniture series would be pine. It can withstand the outdoors excellently with surface treatment and good care. It was this maintainability feature that was central to the design. Both handicrafts and different tunings have been on the rise for some time. That's why we dared to make the series a partial DIY concept (do-it-yourself), where the furniture is delivered without surface treatment. The task of the consumer is to paint them themselves. To lower the threshold, we turned to Tikkurila and together we made this issue easier. The package includes painting instructions and a list of the necessary accessories with painting procedures. You can then march to the nearest paint store with the list.


"The best part about this is definitely
the joy of doing!"  

This DIY concept has many good points. After the furniture has been painted once, subsequent maintenance sessions are easy. If you make them yourself, they will be closer and more valuable and better-taken care of. But the absolute best part of this concept is the joy of doing it! The paint colour can be whatever suits the environment best. Although choosing a colour can sometimes be difficult and I wanted to make that easier as well. I chose four recommended colours that I think are suitable for the series, which are light blue, ageing green, terracotta and folded white. Their colour codes can be found in the instructions and colour models in the nearest paint store. 


With thin stripes on the seat and the back, I was looking for the nostalgic atmosphere I described earlier. However, I made a simplified version of the series because I thought it would fit better in a modern environment. We photographed the first prototypes last summer at the old pavilion of The Lahti Sailing Club, and surprisingly I found that they also fit well in a mansion-type environment. The serene series seemed to work well in other environments as well, which is always a challenge for designers. We also tested the models in our own yard and the seating comfort, usability and design received praise from the summer guests. Deko magazine did a funny story about our yard.
(See more in the issue published on 2.5.)


There is a lot of talk about responsibility

The longer the furniture is in use, the more responsible it is - quite clear and simple, but not so easy. The so-called maintenance-free materials last for some time, but the fact is that no material lasts forever. All maintenance-free materials wear out sooner or later, and nothing can be done about them after that. Therefore, one of the most important guiding stars in the design of this outdoor furniture series was the maintainability feature, which can be used to significantly extend the life cycle of the furniture. In addition, we offset the emissions caused by the production of the series by planting tree seedlings. And the plantings are not done anywhere but in the forests of the surrounding area. The fact that we chose pine instead of rainforest trees for the furniture series doesn't need any more explanations, surely?


What about the name of the series?

Surprisingly, naming is one of the most difficult steps in the entire design process. And usually, choosing the name of the born "child" is the designer's task. This time, we decided to outsource that creative task and organized a name contest for our inner circle. There were a lot of suggestions - especially good ones. In the end, Katri Kuukka's suggestion "Tyyni" was screened as the name for the series, which best described the serene atmosphere I was aiming for in the products. Thank you, Katri!

To return to the title of this blog, some things used to be better, but really - nowadays many things are much better.

Calm before the storm

- Tapio


p.s. Learn more about the new Tyyni outdoor furniture series