Minimalismus, die Kombination von Moderne mit Zweckmäßigkeit und natürliche Materialien: Das verbinden wir mit Design „Made in Skandinavien“. Das junge Design-Duo Saana ja Olli hat es sich zur Aufgabe gemacht, mit ihren Interior-Entwürfen skandinavischen Minimalismus mit slawischen Ornament-Prints zu vereinen. Wir haben die Beiden, die in Turku wohnen (älteste Stadt Finnlands) zum Interview getroffen. Neben ihrer Tätigkeit als Designer, renovieren sie aktuell ihr eigenes Haus. Ein Schmuckstück, das nur wenige Minuten von der Innenstadt Turkus entfernt ist. In diesem Haus lebte einst der international renommierte Künstler Touko Laaksonen (1920-1991), vermutlich besser bekannt als „Tom of Finland“.
How did you come up with the idea to create a brand based on interior goods?
When we were second year design students in Turku Arts Academy, we noticed that there were no interesting ecological interior textiles in the market. So we decided to try to design a pattern together. We drew our first pattern and made unique interior pillows out of it in very DIY style. The pillows sold out and got a excellent response, so we decided to continue forward. Nowadays we divide our time between our own 100% hemp textile collection and design work and collaborations with other brands.
Turku, the place where you’re based is in the South of Finland and a very calm area. Why did you choose this place for your business and what makes it special to you?
Our roots are here in Southwestern coast of Finland. We are both living in Turku. The city has 100 000 inhabitants and has a strong independent cultural scene in music, art and interesting underground happenings. We like the scale of the city, you can cycle everywhere all year round but there’s enough people to keep the social circles evolving.
Where does your design influence come from?
We both love olden day Finnish folk craft aesthetics, art brut and minimalism. With each collection we in the beginning discuss the themes we want to process. For example, our latest collection Ikiaika (lit. The Eternal) was built around aesthetics of prehistoric Finnish cave paintings and artifacts.
Everyone is crazy about Scandinavian design. Is there a signature design style which is typical for Finland?
Geologically we have been influenced by both traditional nordic functionalism and on the other hand by slavic ornamentalism. We think best Finnish design combine this type of marriage of these eastern and western influences. And a touch of raw and primitive way of work.
You are an online based company. Are there any plans to open physical stores?
Our strength lies in design and we are happy to work this way. We are actually renovating the birthplace of Tom of Finland with our friends. Our home is called Toukolaakso. Our aim is to renovate a gallery space / cafeteria / showroom into the basement and open it next summer.
Hemp is an important fabric throughout your collections. What makes this material so important?
Hemp is excellent plant to tackle the problems of the modern world. It is modest in irrigation, naturally resistant to bugs and produces a large amount of fiber. In use it’s durable and good-looking.
We are living in times where people are caring more about environmental issues. How do you define the term sustainability and how do you transport this message with your designs?
We want to be trailblazers in textile design field. That’s why we use European 100% hemp fabrics and manufacture our products locally and transparently. We use local professionals so we can be certain that their work is carried out in high quality and that the employees have a safe and enjoyable working environment and receive a proper wage with benefits.
As a small company it must be hard work to establish yourself as a global brand. Can you give advice for those of us who also want to start their own company?
Be passionate about our own thing, and ask for help from others. Without people you are nothing, like Joe Strummer once said.
You are business partners and also a couple. Is it hard to separate work from your private life?
As entrepreneurs it is always some troubles dividing your private life and work. On the other hand we are both in the same situation so we understand each other well. There is no difference between our work-self and private-self so this can also be a strength as you sometimes come up with the biggest ideas when your not under pressure.
How does the future of Saana ja Olli look like?
We want to remain progressive and interesting, expand into new fields of design through collaborations and grow as a company. At the moment future is looking good.