What is the point of installing chipboard furniture in bathrooms when they last less than a year?
This is the question that Jonna Röynä, a product development and procurement specialist, happened to overhear four weeks into working at SATO.
There’s no point, of course.
Which is why Jonna, a woman of action, decided to make some calls.
The idea came to her immediately: compact laminate. It is a material familiar from the changing rooms of swimming pools and gyms and is extremely wear- and water-resistant. What if that material could be used in domestic bathrooms?
Jonna made calls and sent emails. At the ninth company she contacted, Kankarin Kaluste in Kihniö, Heikki Mäkinen answered the phone.
“I was sitting in the backseat of a minivan when Heikki said that SATO was wondering whether we could do it. I grabbed a pen and paper and drew the seam right then and there in the moving van,” recalls Kankarin Kaluste’s product development specialist and joiner Pekka Pusa and smiles.
“Yes, we can do it.”
The same evening, Jonna sent the design to Kihniö.
In less than a month, the first prototype was ready.
“I snapped a picture of it with my phone and sent it to Heikki, bursting with excitement,” says Pekka and laughs.
The line is called Kide (crystal), because that is what compact laminate is: crystal epoxy resin that has been compacted. The ends of the furniture boards are black epoxy and give the line a modern look.
Jonna sees good-looking design as important, but even more important is for furniture to be sustainable and ecological.
Sustainability has to be more than just talk. Sustainability is about concrete actions. Not selecting the cheapest implementation, but thinking about what the best option is on a five-, ten- or even twenty-year horizon.
The compact laminate used in the Kide furniture has a 25-year guarantee, which is entirely unheard of in bathroom furniture. Normally, manufacturers will give a two-year guarantee.
“The world is drowning in stuff. That is why we stop to think about the life cycle of each piece of furniture and idea,” says Jonna.
Furniture that lasts over time and resists wear also benefits residents. They don’t have to put up with constant faults, renovations and visits by maintenance staff.
“All design starts with how we can make the lives of our residents more care-free. It makes no sense to have to be super careful about splashing water in a bathroom,” says Jonna.
Pekka smiles. There’s no need to watch out for splashes with compact laminate: when a shelf in Pekka’s fridge at home broke, he just built a new one out of compact laminate. Then his wife asked him whether the shelf could be washed in the dishwasher.
“I said, why not! It’ll be fine.”
The Kide line’s furniture has been installed in several SATO homes and more is being installed all the time. Jonna calculates that around 2,000 apartments will be equipped with new furniture, if renovated and new apartments are included.
Before, bathroom furniture and supplies came from ten different suppliers, now all of it comes from the same place: Kankarin Kaluste. It helps the installers in their work and makes planning of schedules easier at worksites.
It also helps that the Kide line has been designed to fit in different-sized bathrooms and homes.
Maybe we should ask what Jonna and Pekka are up to next.
It’s Jonna’s turn to smile. In addition to the bathroom furniture line, she has designed the new Ino shower curtain rod (which can withstand a weight of up to 25 kg), the Odi coat rack and a waste trolley in which the waste bins are colour-coded.
“All innovations spring from real life. When you do the rounds with the building inspector and listen to feedback from residents, it’s easy to see what needs fixing,” says Jonna.
“If I see a problem, I want to solve it immediately.”