Conscious Design Profile: Made by Choice

December 31, 2020 Sakari

Conscious Design Profile: Made by Choice

A Chat With The Award-Winning Design House

Made by Choice is an award-winning design house with stellar thought leadership. They use a collective and collaborative approach to creating new designs that promote sustainable Nordic values.

The Nordic influence results in wood being a featured material in most of their designs. This is good news for Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) because unprocessed wood is naturally antibacterial as a surface. Wood improves Indoor Air Quality and balances humidity.  In addition to these benefits to indoor environments, natural wood also has a pleasant visual impact, and a timeless, homey feel. 

Conscious Design Media sat down with the three founders, Niclas Ahlström, Sebastian Jansson, and Lasse Laine, to learn more about how their company makes individual furniture for individual needs.

“What’s unique about us is our product design process. Many approach design by scouting the market for demand, whereas we work with the customer from the get-go,” Laine says.

“Let’s say a customer calls and says they’re opening a restaurant. We take it from there and work together, creating something new.“

Their past clients include several notable restaurants in Finland, including Savoy, an 83-year-old restaurant lauded for its human-centered and functional design touch in every detail. This includes comfortable furniture made from high-quality natural materials. 

Other restaurants graced with Made by Choice interiors and furniture include Lily Lee, Fisken på Disken, Pub Ludwig, Nude, and Kastu. Made by Choice also has a public spaces resume, including the Embassy of Spain, the Finnish Design Museum, and the Finnish Institute in Paris

“Customer projects are a platform for new products for the consumer market, even though our main focus is providing to businesses,” Jansson says.

One other example would be the Island of Lonna, where in addition to the beautiful seascape, one can also enjoy the original Scandinavian design of the restaurant’s furniture. The beautiful thing is: if you like it, you can buy it.

“The CEO of a big architectural firm is coming later this week to pick up a Lonna stool he bought for himself.” Niclas Ahlström mentions.

Untreated Wood For Indoor Air Purity

Working with wood as the raw material for Made By Choice designs positively influences indoor air.

“We find it easy to improve indoor air quality because our products are made of wood, which cleanses air and balances humidity,” Laine explains, “and wood has a positive influence on acoustics as well.”

“And then there are special projects, such as Space of Mind, which was made out completely of untreated wood,” Laine continues, speaking of the independent, free-standing room designed with Studio Puisto Architects

Made by Choice has also taken repeated steps toward making sure the good characteristics of wood are not lost. 

“We’ve replaced existing chemical processes with better ones. For example, when the functional water-soluble acrylic paints were introduced to the market, we shifted to those from the urethane-based paints. This reduces the emissions from the finish.”

The result? Distinctive designer furniture that is visually pleasing and healthy for the indoor environment.

Rapid Prototyping

Working with wood is ideal for quickly experimenting with designs and coming up with new prototypes. 

“Our product development is very straight forward,” says Sebastian Jansson. “We use the same methods for the prototype as in production.”

In practice, a plywood panel or block is carved into the desired form, using a milling machine. 

This “prototyper’s playground” has given Made by Choice a clear advantage in experimenting with forward-thinking designs.

“It can be a 15-minute discussion with Lasse, then we bounce sketches back and forth, draw the design in 3D, and next week there is a new prototype out,” Jansson explains.

The Kolho Collaboration

“We design a lot in-house. And the collaborations are very intimate, full of back-and-forth with our partners,” Jansson explains.

One such collaboration is known across the globe: Kolho, the Made by Choice collection of chairs and tables with Matthew Day Jackson, represented by the world’s biggest gallery, Hauser & Wirth

 

The chair, inspired by the Apollo moon landing and a small town called Kolho in Finland, has a serpentine form. This continuous plywood form that constitutes the chair’s fluid frame is cut out of two pieces to form a continuous whole.

Just recently, the workshop finished the rainbow edition of Kolho, where each layer of veneer is colored separately to accomplish a beautiful rainbow color spectrum. 

But even without the new coloring, the chair has gained a lot of attention. “I just spoke with a top British design firm,” Ahlström jumps in to add. “They had seen our chair in the Conran Shop and were impressed.”

These designs have captured the attention of the higher echelons of design influencers.

“90% of the places we visit abroad know us through these designs. Kolho stands out because of its unique artistic style and design language,” Jansson says. 

The Kolho series became extremely popular in 2019. Kolho is highlighted in the article  “Curl power: Matthew Day Jackson’s sinuous chair throws us for a loop.”

Made By Choice is a shining example of a design house, where art, design, sustainability, and non-toxicity are all achieved in perfect equilibrium.

 

Sakari

Staff writer of Conscious Design Media. Chief Growth Officer of Terraform Solutions.