Interior design11.06.2012

Birch veneer: transformed by design

The Wave-shoe has many different models.

The Wave-shoe has many different models.

Everyone knows what wooden clogs look like, but would you believe that these Wave designer shoes by Marita Huurinainen are made from Koskisen veneer?

The company behind the shoes, LK-Taivute, located in Lahti, Finland, shares a history with Koskisen that dates back decades. LK-Taivute’s joinery workshop, located in the Saksala industrial area behind Hartwall’s factories, smells of fresh wood. A dozen skilled carpenters work in the light and airy factory space, creating furniture components and design furniture and lamps by form pressing veneer.

LK-Taivute’s Managing Director and co-owner Aki Lindeberg has worked in the furniture manufacturing industry since 1973 when he established a company specialising in the manufacture of solid wood furniture in Vääksy in southern Finland. In 1986 the company became LK-Taivute and switched to using veneer instead of solid wood. Until 2001 the company manufactured furniture for IKEA almost exclusively, but this period in its history ended when IKEA decided to transfer its furniture manufacturing operations to Eastern Europe in search of lower costs.

- When IKEA left I almost decided to call it a day. But then I thought I’d give it one last try. IKEA had bought most of our equipment base but not quite everything. We were still manufacturing some products for them, including some prototype series. Our partnership continued on a smaller scale up until 2005, Lindeberg explains.

New beginnings

The hole left by IKEA felt immense to begin with, but to everyone’s surprise it began to fill up again quickly. There was no need to use a lot of resources for marketing because the order book began to fill up very quickly simply through word of mouth.

At the moment LK-Taivute’s customers include a significant number of Finland’s best-known furniture and lamp manufacturers. It’s no wonder then that LK-Taivute is one of Koskisen Birch Products’ largest customers. Their joint efforts have continued for over two decades.

- Our co-operation runs like clockwork. We’ve found all the best methods to ensure that orders and deliveries work flexibly, Lindeberg says.

According to Koskisen’s Sales Manager, Raimo Kämppi, the products are usually peeled at Hirvensalmi and delivered to Lahti in that form for further processing by the customer.

LK-Taivute’s warehouse is filled to the rafters with every delivery of Koskisen’s 0.6–1.5-cm-thick birch veneer. According to Lindeberg, the products are always top quality. Lindeberg says that this is his third entrepreneurial phase and that he enjoys being his own boss. The economically prudent Managing Director always makes a point of paying the bill the minute the lorry pulls into the yard.

- With forty years of entrepreneurship under your belt, you know the importance of co-operation based on a solid foundation, for both the customer and supplier, he sums up.