Finnish Design Shop has been on a quest to make Finnish and Nordic design known and readily available worldwide for almost two decades. According to Teemu Kiiski, founder and CEO of one of the world’s largest online stores focusing on Nordic design, curation has been one of the cornerstones.
— And we do not only curate products but also content, he says. From the very beginning, we have wanted to tell the stories behind the products we sell in our online publication, featuring designers, architecture, exhibitions, and everything else that might interest our customers. Our vision is to fill the world with Nordic Happiness, and thus we’ve wanted to create a family of services to serve that purpose, such as contract sales, a showroom, and a marketplace for preowned design.
The company recently opened a new logistics centre which includes a warehouse, showroom, restaurant, and office.
— Due to the fast-paced growth, we had outgrown our previous premises and were looking for a new space to fulfil the current demands. Designed by Avanto Arkkitehdit and the interior by Studio Joanna Laajisto, our new logistics centre was built in accordance with the principles of sustainable development. Located in the middle of the forest, next to Pomponrahka nature reserve, we wanted to make sure the building would blend in with the surrounding forest as well as meet the strict requirements of the environmental certification BREEAM.
Normally when you think about a logistics centre, you don’t imagine such a place. How come you created it like this?
— It was built to reflect and cherish the Nordic lifestyle. Sustainability was one of the most important factors but we also wanted to create a place for our employees and customers to really experience the Nordic way of living. The showroom exhibits a curated selection of high-quality designs while the restaurant, run by the award-winning chef and an advocate for Finnish wild food, Sami Tallberg, brings the nearby forest to the table in the form of healthy and delicious lunch. For our staff, the new facilities provided an even more functional and comfortable working environment. Finally, the surrounding landscape was considered in the material choices of the interior: we chose a lot of natural materials, such as pine and ash with a non-toxic finish.
Since 2021, Finnish Design Shop has been offsetting its annual carbon footprint through forest conservation. The first protected area, Kiiski shares, is a 9.56-hectare forest estate in Pälkäne in southern Finland.
— By forest conservation in Finland, we want to make carbon offsetting as transparent as possible and contribute to the protection of biodiversity — as only six per cent of Finnish forests are protected. However, our primary goal is to minimize the emissions caused by our operations, and by moving to this new logistics centre — which fully operates on renewable energy — our energy use emissions were reduced by 96% compared to the year before, he says, continuing,
— We have invested in a fully scalable AutoStore warehouse automation, which enables us to keep up with the pace even during the busiest seasons. Now, the system comprises 25,500 bins, an aluminium framework, and 15 robots, which deliver and retrieve the products to the workstations where our staff can pick and pack them. The speed and scalability are not the only advantages; the system also saves lots of space, being the market leader in storage density. In addition, the system is highly energy efficient, which suits our sustainability goals well.
What’s been the biggest challenge in building all this?
— The schedule. We completed the project, from signing the contract to moving in, in less than 16 months. The process included it all: designing the building, getting the construction permit, whole construction work and interior decoration, as well as installing the warehouse automation. And we could move in one day earlier than initially planned! Everything went according to plan, but it needed tight coordination between all the parties involved. I think good design and architecture played a significant role also in keeping up with the tight schedule. We could foresee future issues with some technical solutions suggested and avoid delays by dealing with them already in the design process.