Week 42, 2012 – A story of how A:B Bookshelf began

About:Blank just launched a new product, Bookshelf, at Habitare 2012 in this September. The models displayed at the fair site were still prototypes and before the real production, but we would like to open the lid and share the story behind it already.

Two years ago when we just got married, Seungho happened to find two big wooden bookshelves from a secondhand store in Helsinki city center which seemed just suitable for our new home back then. Even though it aged (its surface lacquer was almost worn out and the veneer on many corners was ripped off), it was very sturdy, easy and reliable. Moreover, he figured out that it was a stackable bookshelf consisted of 5 identical boxes and it was attractive enough to convince Seungho’s eyes and mind immediately. Eventually he purchased two big ones and they became ours.

We found a small metal logo on one bookshelf indicating its manufacturer, Billnäs. It turned out that Billnäs was a ironmaking village like Fiskars in the past , which was built to produce iron products, mainly weapons in the beginning and then moved to the miscellaneous objects such as hammer, axe, nail etc. That is, the village was planned to be built on the exact spot to dedicate its resource to the supply. It was ideally located since a running river functioned as a natural resource and a transportation method. As the industry was thriving and voluming up its body in the beginning of 1900s, it started producing office furniture in 1909. We guess our bookshelf was one of the products from thriving period. Since ironmaking industry, as a whole, declined, the village stopped its production and started serving tourism, cultural events and letting spaces for small enterprises after a major restoration of the village.

Billnäs, the ironmaking village

Since both of us were very much intrigued with its potential that would grow as a family would do and its honesty what would not be interrupted by any trend, it caused sympathy in our mind for the discontinuation of the good product. Therefore, we made a decision to develop it further, to more feasible for younger generation living modern life, simpler to produce, and easier to deliver to the end customer, and hence About:Blank would carry it as a next product.

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