Showroom Finland has been exporting Finnish design worldwide for twenty years. The popular Pilke lamps and multi-purpose Mixrack storage items have become favorites. Design Stories met the company’s founders and learned that there are fans of the brand’s products in faraway places like Mexico.
AS SHOWROOM FINLAND's founders, Tuula Hocksell and Leena Liedenpohja visited designer Tuukka Halonen’s exhibition ten years ago, a wooden, lattice-like lamp caught their eye. It was still a prototype at the time. When Hocksell saw the lamp she said out loud, “That’s our first luminaire model!”
That may sound like a hasty, downright daringly quick estimate, but the two ladies, who had worked in design productization and marketing for a long time, had developed a keen sense of good design.
“Identifying the potential of products lies at the core of our work. You learn to see quickly if the item has what it takes to succeed,” say Hocksell and Liedenpohja.
The story that began with the big find in the exhibition, continued later. Tuukka Halonen's wooden lamp really ended up – albeit in a roundabout way – in Showroom Finland’s collection. Today, the Pilke luminaire is one of the company's most popular products, and a whole family of lamps has grown around it, including not only pendants of different sizes, but floor and table lamps as well. And more are in the making!
The Pilke luminaire is one of the company’s most popular products, and a whole family of lamps has grown around it.
Pilke lamps have been in high demand both in Finland and around the world. At present, as much as 70 percent of Showroom Finland's production is sold abroad. In the summer of 2019, the company received the largest lamp order in its history from Mexico, and in the future, Pilke luminaires will decorate a beach hotel built on the Yucatan Peninsula.
“We could never have imagined that one of our most important customers would be from Mexico! But the world of design is highly global these days, and online stores make the products accessible to everyone,” says Tuula Hocksell.
Showroom Finland's focus on export is no coincidence, as the export of design was the cornerstone on which the company was founded in 2001.
“We originally met at the same workplace where we handled international trade. It was there that the idea of a company of our own came about. We are happy that we founded the company, as these have been the most interesting and fun years of our careers,” say Hocksell and Liedenpohja.
Almost the entire collection is made in Finnish factories from domestically sourced raw materials.
The two had a common vision about the company’s design line all the way from the first product, the Tuisku bowl, designed by Petri Vainio. It crystallized the values on the basis of which the collection has been developed: the objects must be distinctive and timeless in design, preferably made of natural materials, allow industrial mass-production, and have a fresh Scandinavian look. Manufacturing has been local from the word go: even today, almost the entire collection is made in Finnish factories from domestically sourced raw materials.
Functionality has been another key value in the collection. In addition to eye-catching lamps, the product repertoire includes practical storage items by designer Tapio Anttila. The Mixrack series, originating in a simple firewood rack, has grown into a multi-part, popular product family.
“The strength of this series lies in the design that reflects minimalist style. At the same time, Mixrack racks really have many uses,” says Hocksell.
Showroom Finland will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2021. What do you think has changed most over the years?
“Currently, the values that have been important to us from the beginning – responsibility and sustainability, local production, high quality, natural materials and closeness to nature – have become even more important for consumers, and we are ready to invest in them,” says Liedenpohja.
“We believe that well-being will emerge as a key value alongside them. In days to come, more attention will be paid to the fact that the space, the objects in it and, for example, light support and enhance our well-being.”
Products by Showroom Finland
Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Photos: Suvi Kesäläinen and Showroom Finland