Adding natural elements to your living space has a long list of benefits: They provide a calming feel, inject some greenery into your decor, help indoor air quality and generally improve your space. For many people however, living plants can pose almost as many challenges: Inadequate light, improper growing temperatures and the potential mess of dirt and water turn many people off from houseplants. And then there’s the issue of perhaps having a brown thumb….
Enter Polarmoss, a fantastic no-maintenance, sustainable product that brings the outdoors in, allowing you to add a touch of nature to any room of your home. Homedit first saw Polarmoss at a major design show and is very excited about all of its qualities, as well as its ease of installation.
We asked Janne A. Alatalo, Managing Director of the Finnish company, all about Polarmoss.
Who came up with the idea of Polarmoss and how did this come about? How was the idea sparked?
The idea of Polarmoss is related to long history and heritage of using Reindeer moss for different purposes on the remote island of Hailuoto, which is located in the Bay of Bothnia the most northern part of the Baltic Sea, near by the arctic circle in Finland. The founder of the company, who still is the major shareholder, Mr. Markku Sipola, and his family are original islanders and have been harvesting the Reindeer Moss for decades.
Markku founded the company with his family 1985, though he had been involved with the moss for a long time before that. The initial business was exporting the natural dried Reindeer Moss to German-speaking areas in Central Europe as they were, and still are, using it for floral purposes – especially in cemetery floral needs as a traditional material for these kind of decorative purposes. However over time, the use of reindeer moss in indoor decorating has been evolving and there has been a clear demand for decorations used indoors made of reindeer moss due to the unique structure and natural beauty of this wild material. So, the owner of the company developed some ideas to create a number of ways to bring Nordic nature close to the everyday life of people. As the natural color of lichen, reindeer moss in this specific case is whitish-grayish. The idea was to have multiple different colors available, to reflect the different kinds of customer preferences in various global markets. One of the key drivers was also related to easy assembly and mounting of the products, which is always appreciated by customers.
What makes Polarmoss different from other types?
Polarmoss is clearly an authentic decorative reindeer moss product. We have the whole supply and manufacturing chain under our own control and every step in it requires skillful handwork, all the way from picking the crop to dye coloring the raw material, as well as manufacturing of the end products. As Polarmoss has long heritage of using this type of raw material, we do also see the importance of living together with the nature and respect sustainability in all our activities to enable the balanced and long term usage of forests, and especially reindeer moss. We aim to bring the soft connection of Nordic forests to people through beautiful reindeer moss products. One of the key issues in Polarmoss products is the easiness of use over the time, as they are maintenance free compared to some other types of green walls or green design objects. Additionally, they provide some sound absorbing properties due to the natural structure of reindeer moss, which is multidimensional and inherently round shaped.
How do you harvest the moss and how long does it take to regenerate?
The harvesting of moss is done with utmost care due to the vulnerability of reindeer moss growth in boreal and arctic forest areas. In all the areas where we operate, we do only hand-picking and the forest is being left in well-cared for condition: The amount of moss being picked is only around 10-15 percent from the land area and it is harvested in a selective way – a piece from here and there without causing too much harm to the monolithic growth area. Also, we do ensure that the moss, on those areas where we pick it, has enough time to grow and rest between the subsequent harvesting times. The frequency of re-use the same harvesting areas is typically some five to ten years. One of the things I do want to emphasize, is the fact that in handpicking, we have well educated pickers – many of them do the work season after season, and all new pickers are trained well to ensure the harvest is sustainable and respectful of nature.
Your spheres and islands seem a bit more accessible for consumers to use in their homes. Are you planning on developing additional items for residential use?
Absolutely we are developing new items over time. Within our R&D we have ongoing projects to find new, innovative options and solutions to provide pleasant consumer experiences. Consumers have not been that much of our focus so far, but as you said, the interior design items like spheres and islands are for sure a bit more accessible for residential customers. Indeed, we want to bring some delightful new forms available during the coming year to enable more options for customers to experience a soft connection to nature.
Which are your best selling items for both commercial and residential uses?
This is a bit of a tricky question as the preferences and tastes in different market areas in relation to colors and shapes are not similar from country to country or one market area to another. Moreover, commercial use is often driven by the design environment or the design language in the surrounding space and area. But, residential cases might be dictated by the existing space when it comes to shapes and colors. On the other hand there are some clear high runners on colors especially – for example the greenish colors. May Green in our color chart, for example, is one of the most popular options selected by commercial customers especially.
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