Column: Those who seek, find – sometimes even when they do not want to

“It’s not necessary to get everything you want or own everything you like” is a principle that Design Stories columnist Hanna-Katariina Mononen keeps saying to herself and even lives by – at least every now and then.

Nikari  Seminar chair, oak
Nikari’s pre-owned Seminar chairs put Hanna-Katariina Mononen in a state of mind, which she calls finder’s panic.

I BUY MOST THINGS second-hand. This means clothes, furniture, small objects as well as electronics. The reasons for this are myriad, but the biggest of them is probably emotional: something that’s been in this world for some time simply feels different from something completely new, without any history.

Buying things used teaches many things, particularly patience. When you’re looking for a certain item, you should be prepared to wait – sometimes even for years. On the other hand, there are so many second-hand items on the market that it’s advisable to exercise self-control and try not to become overwhelmed by everything that is available. At the flea market, each piece of crockery and pretty dress may feel super special unless you have gathered a sufficient amount of appropriate cynicism in advance.

I have, in fact, been patiently teaching myself that it’s not necessary to get everything you want or own everything you happen to like. Sometimes it’s enough to just admire the thing from afar, knowing that something like that exists.

“Sometimes the situation proves to be so tricky that it makes you forget most of your fine principles. It’s hard not to act when you come by something utterly unexpected.”

However, despite all these admirable thoughts, sometimes the situation proves to be so tricky that it makes you forget most of your fine principles. It’s hard not to act when you come by something utterly unexpected. Something that you haven’t actually been looking for but would now very much like to include in your plan. This kind of a find may seem impossible to ignore. Your mind gets blurry and your mouth gets dry, and you suddenly feel overcome by a strong fear of soon missing out on this unique opportunity. I have various names for this situation, but the perhaps the most apt description is finder’s panic.

The last time I experienced finder’s panic was quite recently. I came across a sales ad for six beautifully patinated oak Seminar chairs by Nikari. “An amazing find!” screamed by mind. “Act now!” demanded my heart. I suddenly remembered my friend who had just told me about being on the look for new dining chairs. In my finder’s panic, I primarily wanted the chairs to get a good home, whether it was my friend’s or mine. It could also be described as some kind of a need to save the chairs.

My friend hesitated (the sense of urgency created by me may also have felt rather stressful), not feeling the same burning excitement that I felt. That same weekend, I traveled a few hundred kilometers to rescue the chairs, and now they are mine. The moral to my story is simple: establish principles that you can abandon if need be.


Kiasma interior in Helsinki
The ARS22 exhibition presents the very latest in contemporary art at Kiasma until October 10, 2022. Image: The Finnish National Gallery / Pirje Mykkänen

I recommend: Visit Kiasma

“MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART Kiasma in Helsinki, Finland, is open again after a year of renovation. The building designed by architect Steven Holl, completed in 1998, is one of the landmarks in central Helsinki, offering an impressive experience to lovers of both art and architecture.”

• Kiasma, Mannerheiminaukio 2, Helsinki


Hanna-Katariina Mononen

The author, Hanna-Katariina Mononen, reflects on the issues of a beautiful and sustainable life in her monthly column for Design Stories. She thinks that just like in life, in the home, the most beautiful parts are unplanned – and often relatively ordinary as well.


Text and images: Hanna-Katariina Mononen

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