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Pyry Taanila

Young Designer of the Year 2015

Pyry Taanila, who are you and how did you become a designer? 

I am Pyry Taanila, industrial designer, MA and one of the co-founders of the company Catchbox. Since I was small, I have been interested in doing things with my hands, and in creative work as a whole. After primary school I didn't quite know what to study until a friend of mine told me about the Institute of Design in Lahti and industrial design studies. I remember having been very exited about what I heard; so I applied to the school the same spring and began the studies the following autumn. I knew hardly anything about the profession of a designer or the field of design when I started studying, I was just super excited about the student projects I had seen. Very soon I knew that this is my thing!

Tell about your work!
My job description is very versatile. Though I have chiefly worked with Catchbox as a designer, I have alongside that had to learn a bunch of new skills from starting an enterprise to selling the product. This came new to me after my previous working experiences and called for some adaptation but I soon realised that this is one of the best sides of being an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is an awesome school and it is truly a learning experience when sometimes you have to properly step out from your comfort zone. As a designer I continuously cooperate with production engineers and subcontractors.

What inspires you?
I get easily excited about new things – new kinds of products, technologies and even materials make my thoughts race. I observe my own behaviour in everyday life and try to find new practical needs, plus challenge my routines. I believe that behind good design there is specifically challenging and open-minded thinking.

What is hard in your work?
Catchbox is a challenging product because of its innovativeness. We have created a totally new product segment and have thus had to spend quite much time in everything else than with the product and production. Recognizing the target group, marketing the product and practically the whole business model have been made from scratch. Making compromises in product development was first very difficult, too, but necessary.

When do you feel you have succeeded in your work?
You get the best vibes when you receive good feedback from users! Then you know you have really made something great, something that brings added value to this world.

What is important in design?
Being user-oriented and producing genuine added value.

Can you let go in your work?
Absolutely, and one must do so every now and then. If you take your work too seriously, you can dump good ideas too early. Though working may sometimes be quite tough, it still has to be rewarding and feel good. It is extremely important to remember to reward yourself and others when you have accomplished something you have been aiming at.

What is your greatest dream in your work?
If I get to do work which doesn't feel like work and with inspiring people, I will be extremely happy. I aim at keeping working always interesting and instructive. So far, Catchbox has been able to offer all this.

What is it like to be Finnish designer in the 2000s?
Very versatile and full of opportunities. It would seem that the design field is alive and kicking but it has also undergone reformations in this millennium. Service design, having emerged next to traditional industrial arts, is already strongly visible in education and work life. Crossdisciplinary education is also a big thing; it encouraged me to become an entrepreneur straight from school.

What would you do if you were not a designer?
There have been carpenters and blacksmiths in my family. I might have even dreamed of becoming a blacksmith when I was younger but after I had heard about the possibility to be a designer I ended up here. When thinking of career ladder it probably seemed a bit safer option.

What inspires you right now?
The constantly strengthening and evolving start-up scene in Finland! There is a huge amount of great growth enterprises in Finland and more are springing up all the time. I'm following companies operating especially with tangible products via Hardware Hel, as an example. Naturally the Young Designer of the Year Prize inspires me very much! It is an amazingly fine feeling to receive recognition for hard work and it gives a new boost and energy to continue the work. I hope the prize will give an example of the significance of design in start-up companies.

What next?
There are several exciting projects simultaneously going on with Catchbox. I'm afraid I can't yet talk about all of them but one great thing is our new factory in Riga. We grew out of our old facilities and my colleagues in Latvia found  a new furniture factory quite in the city centre of Riga. We are currently renovating a new office space there.

Portrait: Nick Tulinen / IMAGE