When you care for your things, they care back, says Hanna Linkola.
"I wish people looked after their senses", says Hanna Linkola, concept designer for the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation (FANC). After transitioning from art director of a large department store to her current career, Hanna started realising how distant our culture sometimes is from nature. "I'm worried about the amount of plastic objects and dead surfaces in the world at the moment", she says. Places like online stores focus on how things look, but Hanna says that we should also understand how they feel when you touch and use them. Aesthetics and how things feel are essential to Hanna. She recognises materials through touch and often handwashes her textiles. Owning fewer items and taking better care of them helps us appreciate our things and the nature behind them. "I call it positive materialism", she says. To Hanna, that means respecting and understanding nature as a source of all materials and things. "I don't like the word 'consumer'. I'd rather see myself as a user. It's environmentally friendly to care for your things."
The relationship with nature is what draws Hanna to Lapuan Kankurit. She has admired them for decades for their aesthetics, sustainability, and transparency. "All elements align with them", she says. "Their textiles feel strong, natural, and trustworthy. Linen and wool are beautiful materials." One of FANC's aims is to protect the endangered Saimaa ringed seal. When Hanna visited the Lapuan Kankurit store in Helsinki, an opportunity for cooperation presented itself. The association's specialist Kaarina Tiainen had designed a pattern that Hanna thought would work beautifully as woven textiles.
The cooperation led to the SAIMAANNORPPA products, which combine the craftsmanship of Lapuan Kankurit with a deep understanding of nature. "I would love to see the norppa pattern become as popular in fashion and textiles as the leopard print. It's a very beautiful and inspiring pattern: organic, alive, and timeless. Each seal has a unique pattern, and the textiles replicate that uniqueness." The covers for each SAIMAANNORPPA hot water bottle are cut from a different piece of fabric, replicating the unique rings that are found on each seal.
To Hanna, nature holds knowledge that we can't even fathom. That's why she stays close to nature, even in Helsinki. She often walks in the parks around town and frequently visits the nearest national park Nuuksio. Her house plants also serve as a channel to soil and nature. "Nature is a work of art in itself. Nature is the source of all creativity and life. Nature is not only intelligent, but also immensely wise and powerful", she describes. "Destroying nature means destroying vast amounts of knowledge that we aren't even aware of yet. That's just stupid", she adds. "Luckily we are awakening to the many benefits of nature right now. It feels good to hear that in the UK, doctors can prescribe nature to patients suffering from anxiety and depression." Nature hugely benefits both physical and mental health. Hanna's relationship with nature brings peace and quiet into her life. "I become aware of my stress once I'm surrounded by nature. I see my mind racing and have the opportunity to calm down. Being in touch with nature heals better than any man-made medicine."