It is generally classified as a soft wood of lower quality than other 'noble' essences. Yet pine - abundant, inexpensive, soft and full of fascinating dark brown knots - was once the wood of choice in Finland for making furniture and artifacts.
To recover this wood of the best Scandinavian tradition, enhancing it with a sustainable and contemporary approach, designers Miklu Silvanto and Antti Hirvonen have recently founded the brand Vaarnii. Declared goal: to revive the use of pine in furniture manufacturing and, with it, forge a new era in Finnish design. We interviewed them to find out the details of their ambitious project. Rooted in the best national memory.
Where and how did the inspiration for the Vaarnii brand come about?
AS: We dreamed of starting a business in our country. After spending over a decade working overseas, I knew the time had come. Finland has an incredible history of design behind it, but it is disconcerting that no new brand has been founded in the sector in the last 20 years. We noticed this void and decided to try it ourselves, giving life to a design company with sustainability as an indispensable and indisputable pivot.
MS: We liked the idea of creating a furniture production with strong values. Quality, longevity, local production and love for design. All using the best and latest technologies.
Why did you choose to give centrality to the pine?
AH: It was an obvious choice and consistent with the desire to be local in production, using only Finnish wood. Finland is the most forested country in Europe, with beautiful forests dotted with lakes covering nearly 75% of the earth's surface. If you want to make furniture using exclusively Finnish timber, there are only two options: birch and pine. Birch has been used in so many brilliant ways in past centuries, while pine has always been excluded.
Why this role of eternal second for the pine?
AH: There are three problems with the pine used to date: the yellowish color, the glossy finish, the many knots. We have the challenge of improving it.
MS: By studying it closely we discovered that Finnish pine is a wonderful, sustainable and wild material. It allows and at the same time imposes a different and original aesthetic. But we find that its beauty lies here.
How would you describe Vaarnii's products?
AH: When furniture is made of pine, you need to think about sturdy structures when designing, as it is a soft wood. The beauty of our furnishings is that they improve with the passage of time: when it is marked, the wood acquires charm, unlike other essences, think for example of oak. We involved designers who shared our vision of long-lived and imperfect wood and a production was born that makes us happy.
MS: I would speak of a family of furniture with a brutalist and sophisticated aesthetic. They are blunt and raw design pieces at first glance, but on closer inspection they reveal remarkable sophistication.
What are the details that make Vaarnii a proudly Finnish brand?
AH: Finland has a rich folklore and traditions of its own. Also from a geographical point of view, Finland occupies a very different position, almost secluded, compared to the rest of the Nordic countries: the language is completely different, the landscape is unique, the mix of East and West is very strong. Finland is also a country of great contrasts: summers are mild and bright, winters very dark and freezing.
In Finland it can happen to remain immersed in absolute silence and perhaps for this reason the heavy metal genre is very strong. Translated into design, for Vaarnii it meant finding a good balance between brutal and sophisticated. Our products must be perfect for a stylish contemporary Manhattan loft as well as a cabin in the Finnish countryside that hasn't changed for 100 years.