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Interview with ISKU, a new furniture brand companion of BrandsFurniture and DACCA

29 Jun. 2022
Interview with ISKU, a new furniture brand companion of BrandsFurniture and DACCA
We’re proudly introducing ISKU, the Finnish furniture company that just joined DACCA and is present in our Romanian BrandsFurniture showroom that we launched on June 16th in Cluj Napoca. ISKU is a family-owned business since 1928, built by Eino Vikström, a skilled carpenter. Nowadays, the company designs fully functional space ambiances for learning, working, and medical care

The company recently joined the UN Global Compact, which is the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative program. ISKU follows all its ten principles of promoting and building products with environmental, economic, and social responsibility. 
We would like to ask you some questions about the ISKU brand for the DACCA newsletter 6/2022 to inform our audience about your company background and where do you get the strength to create unique pieces of art.

1. Tell us how did your story begin and what are your signature design philosophies? 

ISKU’s story dates back to 1928 and is deeply rooted in northern nature, Finnish wood, and the founder Eino Vikström’s carpentry skills. Nearly 100 years later, ISKU is still owned by the same family and continues to uphold its roots, taking responsibility for people and the environment.
ISKU boasts a one-stop shop for any furniture needs and we work closely with our customers, managing to create user-centered solutions that help them succeed. By combining ISKU's decades of expertise in high-quality craftsmanship with the most modern technology and by involving the users of the spaces in the planning process, we co-design functional innovation environments for working, learning, and health care.
We are at the forefront of design and have received several international recognitions. The most recent ones are the honorable mention in the prestigious Fennia Prize 22 design competition and the 2019 and 2020 victories with the Best Sustainable/Eco-friendly Product in the GESS Education Awards. Our products have also been awarded by the Nordic Swan Ecolabel.

2.How does your brand stand out in terms of values and uniqueness? 

We are aiming not just to be different, but brave to make a difference with our commitments in building a sustainable future. Our pride is represented by proactive and integrated ESG policies in both decision-making processes and in daily practices. Our brand purpose is packed into the letters of the company name.
I - marks the importance of being an international figure. ISKU operates and grows internationally, honouring its roots by having the Headquarters and all the industrial operations in Lahti, Finland. For us, it is important that in all the market areas ISKU operates as a unified brand, with respect to any specific features of the local culture.
S - tells our continued commitment for sustainability. Sustainability is etched into our company’s DNA. For us at ISKU, sustainability has always meant taking concrete actions that can help us build a better future for new generations. We offer comprehensive solutions and services that consider the ecological impact of the entire product life cycle.
K - stands for knowledge and know-how. ISKU’s history and know-how dates to 1928. We combine modern digitised technologies with traditional craftmanship in a knowledgeable way. Today, we aim to be a forerunner in knowledge-driven and technology-based innovations.
U - evinces uniqueness. ISKU provides the customers with unique user experience with best and fast service, top-quality, Nordic design, and material innovations.

ISKU wants to be a pioneer in the field of responsibility. We have been investing in responsibility for years which is reflected in our concrete actions as well as in our products. As a further signal of caring for life, the team has developed the world’s first antimicrobial ISKU+ furniture collections to reduce the spread of infection by providing cleaner, healthier and safer environments. Overall, ISKU+ antimicrobial technologies can reduce microbes up to 99.99%. All furniture solutions manufactured by ISKU are available as antimicrobial.

3.Could you please talk about the inspiration behind some of your collections?

For us, being a Finnish company is both a resource and a source of pride. For us, the colors, shapes, and forms found in Finnish nature are a continuous source of inspiration.
In our design, we focus on high quality, safety, pure materials, and eco-friendly manufacturing methods, always respecting the environment. Our aim is to create furniture solutions that help our customers succeed. These principles have guided us to lead the way in Finnish design since 1928. 
Today, the need for furniture that ensures the safety of the people is growing in all shared spaces where infections can easily spread. ISKU+ furniture collection is the world’s first antimicrobial furniture collection for a cleaner environment. Antimicrobial materials on contact surfaces cut down the infection routes with their antimicrobial features.

“ISKU + antimicrobial furniture provides means to combine world-class design with safety through material choices.”

Antti Olin, ISKU's Design Director. 
1

Nook is a space-in-space solution for working, learning and playing – for offices, schools and homes. The story of Nook began as innovative minds with a shared agenda joined together to create something unique. The aim was to contribute in reducing the threat that plastic waste poses to our environment and enhance joyful learning. The creative process resulted in an innovative way to combine pedagogical multifunctionality and design with circular economy principles. The sound-absorbing, lightweight elements of Nook consist mainly of recycled (PET) plastic bottles and the product itself is 100% recyclable.

Surplus material generated by the waste and cut-off pieces of foam plastic products is used as the raw material of Kivikko seats. Again, the waste generated in the manufacture of Kivikko is returned to the manufacturing process as raw material. Kivikko is a piece of pedagogical furniture based on emphasizing the best practices of the Finnish Schools. It is a multifunctional product ideal for creating versatile spaces for work, learning, and relaxation for users of all ages.

MyFlow collection adds good energetic flow and luxury into any space

The shapes and forms of ISKU’s novel MyFlow furniture family drive inspiration from the round shapes of the Finnish archipelago and create a holistic furniture family. The name, MyFlow, describes the energy and joy brought to the working environments and all spaces where people gather.

"Our experiences are ultimately the things that guide us in everything we do. MyFlow is designed to create harmony and a good energetic flow into any space. The elements of form and design create a feeling of unity, leaving also space for the human flow."

Designer Vertti Kivi

The concept of work has a new meaning. The office is not only a physical space for work, but a platform for creativity, wellbeing, and productivity. MyFlow with its well-thought elements is designed to solve the interior design challenges of modern multi-space offices and other public spaces. In an inspiring and stimulating work environment, employees thrive. MyFlow products are a source of inspiration creating positive flow around them.

4.Why do you value your partnership with Dacca and BrandsFurniture?

Holistic positive experiences are built with multiple aspects of life. Collaboration is conducive to joint innovation and finding the best possible solutions. Our local partners, Dacca and BrandsFurniture, help our customers integrate the right furniture for each purpose and environment. They have a vast understanding of the market and the needs and desires of people and businesses within the area. Their expertise enables providing more holistic approaches for the benefit of the customers.

5.How do you see the future of the Furniture industry?

We believe that like any other manufacturing industry, the furniture industry will call for more concrete actions and transparency that support long-term sustainability. People rightly expect that companies understand their impacts on society and the environment. Businesses must commit to preventing, managing, and mitigating any negative impact that they may cause. More and more people demand sustainability from the furniture solutions they include in their daily lifestyles. 
Sustainability calls for deep commitments to the UN Sustainability Agenda, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and integrating social and environmental concerns in business operations and interactions. With pride, we can say that ISKU has for years made vast investments in and taken concrete actions on responsibility. 

6.How important is sustainability for your brand and what is your approach on the subject?

We believe in long-term sustainability which means making value-driven choices and taking considered actions. With this consistent approach, ISKU is establishing a lasting legacy and providing future generations with a cleaner, safer environments to study, work and thrive.  
ISKU is a pioneer in bringing sustainability and a love of nature to the forefront of furniture design. In June 2022, ISKU joined the UN Global Compact – the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative that provides a framework for developing the corporate responsibility work even further.
Manufacturing sustainable furniture encompasses looking at the entire cycle. One major aspect is reducing the environmental impact with regards to materials, energy, manufacturing, packaging, logistics, as well as the product lifespan and disposal. Another important viewpoint is embedding aspects of social responsibility into the operations; how and where the materials are sourced and processed, and by whom and under what conditions the products are manufactured. Safety of the materials and products and the usability of solutions also have a major effect when creating sustainable designs.
We warmly welcome integrating sustainability and circular economy thinking even wider into the furniture industry. Highlighting topical themes such as reduce-reuse-recycle supports creating solutions against the culture of disposability.

“ISKU builds its vision and operations for future generations. We do not compromise on sustainability for the sake of short-term profits”.
CEO of ISKU, Arto Tiitinen

We invest in circular economy thinking and go through the product life cycle from the designer’s desk to a finished piece of furniture. This comes to life for example through ISKU’s certified quality (ISO 9001) and environmental (ISO 14001) systems and by employing the PEFC-certified tracking system for wood origin to support sustainable forestry. We emphasize the origin of materials, energy consumption, the use of chemicals, and the volume of waste generated during the manufacturing process.
The ISKU factory in Lahti, Finland is a benchmark for responsible manufacturing operations. Our way is the responsible way; the company’s high-quality requirements, circular economy mindset, usage of only pure and safe materials, the long lifespan and high level of recyclability of our products along with our heavy investments in renewable energy are investments in a more sustainable future.

7.If you would have to choose one product as a centerpiece for a showroom or store, which product would it be?

It would be the MyFlow Chair - or, the entire MyFlow product family that perfectly represents the award-winning design of the Finnish designer Vertti Kivi and over 90 years of experience and state-of-the-art technology of ISKU.
MyFlow is a wide collection of world-class furniture solutions that make open multi-purpose spaces flexible, but intact in appearance and design. The crown of the collection is the MyFlow Jewellery which is the state-of-the-art piece of metal integral to the products. It gives a special character to the whole collection and brings a bit of luxury into any space.
 
                    Titta Nikulainen - Isku International

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