There is no difference between work-self and out-of-office-self when it comes to the designer couple Saana and Olli. The same values guide their choices in everyday life and in work life as well since they want to employ local Finnish professionals as much as possible. In their opinion, people are more and more interested in alternatives for big companies and it is a great time in history to be a young designer.
WHAT DOES SUSTAINABILITY AND BEING ECOLOGICAL MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY?
“I grew up in a small town with rather conservative mental environment so naturally I got drawn into progressive ideas at a young age. As a teenager, in the turn of millennium, I got interested in environmental issues through punk music and radical environmental movement. Muutoksen kevät magazine and Ulos häkeistä! -book had a major influence on me at that point. I became a vegetarian, joined Amnesty and started thinking about sustainability and ethical issues.
Me and Saana share the same type of ethical background. We have been vegans since 2007 and environmental issues are at the core of our daily life, so naturally Saana ja Olli follows the same guidelines as we do. There is no difference between work-self and out-of-office-self. We want to feed our brains and be able to sleep well.
There can definitely be seen a growing atmosphere of responsible consumerism as well. Five years ago the sustainability issues were much more rarely discussed in the mainstream media than today. People are more aware of the mechanics behind their consumption choices and their responsibility.”
HOW DOES SAANA JA OLLI PROMOTE ITS SUSTAINABILITY?
“From the beginning, we have wanted to keep our manufacturing transparent in a way, we feel, every company should do. We also wanted to raise the profile of hemp fabric, which is excellent fiber material to fight modern environmental problems.
Sustainable decisions in materials and production methods are at the core of Saana ja Olli. The idea of all Saana ja Olli products is that they are durable and time-lasting both quality-wise and esthetically.
We value highly the positive liberties, such as free top-quality education, social security, public medical services and stable infrastructure, of Finnish society. Therefore, we really want to keep our production as much as possible in Finland and employ local professionals. By using local professionals we can also be certain that their work is carried out in high quality and that the employees have an enjoyable working environment and receive a proper wage with benefits.
Since there are no hemp fabric factories in Finland, our fabrics come from the EU region. Our European hemp fabrics are sustainably made: the plants are grown without herbicides or pesticides using natural crop rotation techniques. Our fabrics are transported from the factory to our hometown Turku by land, this way we minimize carbon emission. After the fabrics arrive here all the rest of production takes place in Southwestern Finland.”
HOW THE MATTERS CONSIDERING SUSTAINABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY COULD BE PROMOTED MORE?
De-centralizing the power grid, cutting the fossil fuel subsidies and improving cycling conditions in urban areas would be a great start. Quite large question though.
Different certificates and non-governmental organizations have managed to put pressure on companies to act in a more sustainable way. For example Finnwatch has done excellent job on this field. The power of non-govermental organizations is definitely growing through modern media and rapid movement of information and progressive ideas.
NAME THE MAIN OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES IN YOUR FIELD OF INDUSTRY AND PRODUCTION.
The world is more open and there are less gatekeepers inside the design world. Small interesting companies such as ours fight for the same media coverage as large corporations with huge marketing divisions. And people are more and more interested in alternatives for big companies. It is definitely a good time in history to be a young designer!