Treasures of Wasteland

SECCO and The Treasures of Wasteland is the name of a Helsinki shop selling recycled goods, from clothing to computer-key magnets, to belts made out of car seatbelts. It is a surprise to find this place, nestled amongst vintage shops, hair dressers, and grim bars, in the Design District of Helsinki. This treasure chest is chock full of funky, unexpected and innovative design products. There are mittens made of brightly coloured recycled fabric, hot plates made of computer ventilators, with feet of mouse bearings and shower shoes made of UNICEF blue and white fabric; all perched on a stand of stacked car tires. We spoke to the CEO, Nina Partanen, who came up with the idea for the shop. She saw that there were so many good and interesting designs for products made from recycled materials but they were prototypes, or made by students with no hope of production.

With her business background and interest in design and the environment, she wanted to do something about this. She found a partner with design experience who shared her goal of proving that recycled goods are not ugly and that this message can be conveyed in a nice and positive way to the public. Four years later, they have twelve designers working on items for the store and available at other outlets around town and Europe as well. She said that getting good quality materials on a regular basis was the hardest part. Now she has a network of suppliers in Germany and Austria. She says that it is all part of the Finnish ethos. As a place that has few large urban centres, the Nordic countries have a tradition of respect for nature, with the birch forests and many lakes and rugged environment. They have always recycled and made the most of their natural resources. Whilst Germany is the leader for household recycling, the Finns have a strong commitment. There are university courses now on design and recycling. As Nina Partanen says "There is lots in the air". :: SECCO

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