While researching Orthex, which we call “Finland’s Muji”, I came across this interesting information in a Finnish newspaper. Ilta-Santomat.
The company’s most successful product, launched in 1995, is called Jäänalle and is still sold today. What the Finns call a “freezer box” or what we call a food storage container intended to withstand the rigors of freezing. Nearly 70 million have been sold to date; jaanalle The newspaper writes that “more than any other object can be found in Finnish homes.”
It looks like a simple design, but Ilta-Santomat An interview with industrial designer Laura Huhtela-Bremer reveals a lot of thought. “My starting point has always been that you have to think about the user. I’m an industrial designer and it’s in our DNA,” Huhtela-Bremer says.
“Jäänalle was different from its predecessors in many ways. Huhtala-Bremer started by thinking about what kind of freezer box he wouldn’t want to use.”
“The Jäänalle has rounded corners, making it easier to spoon out the contents of the box than its sharp-edged predecessors. Thanks to the rounded corners, the contents also freeze more evenly and faster. The substance has even been tested in the laboratory.”
“The lid of the box is recessed so that it fits snugly under the other. The boxes can be stacked easily, but there is still enough room to let cold air flow through the freezer. The boxes also interlock easily but do not stick together.”
“Ribs of stiffness surround the top edge of the ice cube, so the can holds its shape even when hot juice is poured into it. A thumb can fit in the recesses in the top corners, making the lid open. Earlier models had a flap for opening the lid. However, it was often too small. The big one would break like ice.”
Here’s what surprised me: The company saw Huhtala-Bremer’s name printed on the bottom of their Jäänalle dies, which cost “tens of thousands of euros”.
Image credit: Pete Aarre-Ahtio/ Ilta-Santomat
You expect this from a Vignelli, a Starck; It is admirable that the company did this for a young designer of a rather modest object.
Steel dies of course wear out and must be replaced after four or five million cycles. Unfortunately, the company somewhere rolled Huhtala-Bremer’s name out of the new molds.
Echoing Carolyn Davidson’s story—she was the designer of the original Nike logo—Huhtala-Bremer was paid a lump sum, not a royalty, for her work; did not benefit financially from the insane success of the product.
This is par for the course for most industrial designers. But at least Huhtala-Bremer has gained some recognition, and it must feel good to know that your name is on the most-owned object in the entire country.