Treasures of Wasteland. Design from Finland.


SECCO are an environmentally-conscious team of enthusiastic designers who find beauty and practicality in what many consider obsolete or just junk. Founded in 2002 and currently headquartered in Jyväskylä, Finland, SECCO tap in to our nostalgia for old retro technology from the 60s and 70s with fresh products made from post consumer and industrial waste material into goods the original manufacturers could have never imagined. Guided by a light of creativity and courage, their high quality and functional products continue to shine on as they continue to lead by example. SECCO’s quest to lighten the burden on the environment has been met with global acclaim such that demand for SECCO products has been so high in Japan that they have had to work overtime to fill the shelves of eager design shops.

SHIFT had a chance to meet Nina Partanen and find out more about their lovely products during DesignTide 2007.

First, can you tell us about the name, SECCO ?

Well, it was just a working name, when we started working together we knew we wanted to make products that were good, distinguishable while being sustainable. We asked ourselves, what can we do? How can we do this? We knew we wanted to be an ecological action company and when we got started, we were so enthusiastic that we didn’t even really have time for a brainstorm session to come up with the name, it came later. SECCO stands for Sustainable Economy Collection Company.

So working around a core concept was first.

Yes, as a network of designers, we are all driven by the same values and all agree that we have this waste problem that needs to be dealt with. We all definitely had a sense of responsibility and are all trying to be positive about the waste issue while trying to help people be more consciously aware of their waste. We want to show people that waste can be recycled into something better and I’d like to think we are working towards saving the planet.

Rub-A-Dub shoulderbag
Design: Miia Kylmänen, Material: used car tyre inner tube (rubber)
Material surface and thickness may vary; long shoulder strap (rubber) length total 60-80 cm; stitches in golden brown colour

How long does it take to make the average product, for example the rubber bag?

Too long! Working with the metal takes a while as does the rubber and finding the material takes a long time, we can’t even calculate the entire process. A bag can like that take two hours to make, if you are not calculating the time to work with the metal. But as I said, we don’t really factor in the time to find material because it can take a really long time-I’ve had to search in the winter when everything is frozen and that adds a lot of time to the entire process.

What’s your creative process like-does the idea for a keyboard key chain come first or is it after finding the keyboard that the possibilities are derived?

Actually, you can never ever decide first that you want to make a notebook and then look for materials suitable for it but rather, you always have to work with the materials you’ve found with an open mind- that’s a general concept for us. Somehow, you have to be really open-minded and just work and try and test out how ideas work. And during that process, there may be good or bad ideas, but if plenty of good ideas surface then you start making things and testing them and seeing if they work or not. And usually they don’t work; although, even though some things look so simple, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they came about easily.

Qwerty special character magnets
Design: SECCO, Material: Used computer, cashier or type-writer keypad buttons
One unit contains 3 magnet words with mixed characters. It may contain Esc, an arrow, Ctrl, Strg, Ende, Pause, numbers, and various others. Colours and shapes of keypad buttons may vary

You seem to have made a wide variety of things from the keyboard…

Yes, and actually, our keyboard related products like the keychain and key rings have been the most popular items this week…and in terms of working from the keyboard, there is still so much to be done. We were very happy when we found a good application for the circuits under the keyboard. We’re still working on uses for other parts, like some of the silicon parts we’ve found. We’ve been testing prototype after prototype and we’re still working on it. You just have to play around and almost, have the mind of a child.

Volume bowl
Design: Aki Kotkas, Material: Used and unplayable vinyl records
Handpicked by designer, label covered with protective lacquer, shape and labels may vary,

When I look at the vinyl records you’ve used, how do you discriminate what is junk and what has sentimental value?

Well, about the vinyl record, it depends. I feel it is probably one of the few materials that we use nowadays that has a really strong sentimental feeling. Especially nowadays, there are so many used record stores selling vinyl and it’s a trendy collectible, so perhaps some customers may say, “oh, don’t do anything with those, they are valuable!” but they are still found in recycling centers and we have to explain it to them [laughs]. If you come up with an old typewriter, that’s sentimental, it really clicks with people and is more nostalgic- of course, they are precious and more difficult to find so the items we make from them are treated as limited edition. Also, some may think that a particular mobile phone they once owned may have sentimental value but we don’t consistently search for things that have sentimental value.

Safety tie
Design: Päivi Niemi, Material: Used car seatbelt.
Colour black and various grey or brown tones, material surface may vary,

Great and what about the future for SECCO ?

Well, we have many ideas about what we want to do next. Its hard to say, we have a lot! We have about six or eight product development processes going on at the same time so we are really occupied with rubber and working with prints. A new thing happening now is the Treasured Wasteland. Its like a virtual world based on our website where we are inviting people to participate in a more sustainable world. By registering, customers can share information and ideas, not only exchanging products, and as a result can participate with us.

Very Interesting. Thanks a lot Nina for sharing your products with us.

SECCO Flagship Store
Address: Fredrikinkatu 33, 00120 Helsinki, Finland
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 11-18:00, Sat 11-16 :00
Tel: +358 9 678 782
Contact: helsinki(at)seccoshop(dot)com

Text: Vicente Gutierrez

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