September 11, 2012

Getting to Know Secto: a Peek Behind the Scenes

 
Tuula Jeselius, Heikki Saastamoinen and Seppo Koho of  Secto Design

Seppo Koho (right), Tuula Jusélius (left) and Heikki Saastamoinen, who owns the factory that produces the lamps (kneeling).

We at Global Lighting take great pride in the contemporary European lighting we source for the North American marketplace, and as often as we can, we enjoy taking our blog readers behind the scenes so you can “get to know” the talent behind the architectural brands we offer. We asked Tuula Jusélius, the CEO of Secto Design Oy, to tell us how she launched such a forward-thinking company with stunningly simple products. Here’s what she told us:

I was working as an economic journalist for a Finnish newspaper and I decided to change my career so I founded the company Aptero Oy in 1995. Because I am not good at drawing furniture or other design products, I needed a specialist for that task and I found a young interior designer/architect Seppo Koho, who was direct from Art University of Helsinki at the time. We have worked together ever since.

Secto Design in T Magazine

Secto Design’s fixtures featured in The New York Times’ T Magazine.

We originally sold furniture, and had customers that spanned from the Nokia headquarters to Finnish Embassies to churches, as well as private homes. Quite often we were asked which lighting we would advise them to use with our stylish furniture because people could not find lamps that would be suitable. I had also noticed myself, as I worked on the interiors of my own homes, there were no wooden light fixtures on the market, even though the majority of the houses in Finland, specially leisure houses, are made of wood.

So I asked Seppo Koho to draw lamps that would have the same feeling as our furniture, and which would finish the interiors we were creating. Our first model was the Secto 4200 and people liked it, but quite a few of our customers said it was too tall for their flats! That’s when we made the smaller version, the 4201. In order to entice people to our shop and to order our catalogs, we realized we had to have a series of fixtures, so we made the floor lamps, table lamps and the wall fixtures. Magnum became the largest version, which is perfect for public projects like churches, terminals, and such.

The Octo in black, white and natural

Secto Design’s Octo fixtures in white, natural and black.

In the year 2002 I sold the furniture business to a larger company and I kept only the lighting production. The buyer wanted to have the name Aptero, and I had to give a new name to my company. I choose Secto Design because I was not beginning again at zero, and the Secto lamps were already known. Later on, we added more models to the collection: Octo, Victo, Atto, Puncto and Kontro. Slowly, because we do not want to be trendy: our aim is to produce classics.

When I was young, working as a reporter, I visited many companies and always fancied myself having a company of my own; one through which I could produce something very Finnish and stylish. I also wanted to provide work for the Finnish people. So, now I have had my dream come true—even though Secto Design is still a tiny company!

Secto's Magnum in White

Secto Design’s Magnum 4202 in white.

We use only Finnish birch. It is certified and we know where it comes from. It is expensive because we cannot allow any knots in in the wood making up the lamps, which are made of form-pressed plates that we cut into slats. The slats are put together with rings, made of airplane plywood, which is also a Finnish material.

The most satisfying aspect has been that our fixtures are so universal: I knew from beginning that, for instance, the Japanese would like our lamps because their taste is quite similar to that of Finnish peoples’ tastes. But I didn’t know they would be so popular almost everywhere. Our current effort is to get our new Owalo collection to market. It has been tough, because the light sources are in such a hectic development at this time.

We do have new models coming out for next season, but we cannot tell you what they are as of yet, but stay tuned: we are sure you will be excited!

Secto in Architecture Magazine

Secto Design’s 4201 featured in Architecture Magazine.

Copyright infringements are a huge problem for us. We fight against them, but every time we win some, others arise. They come mostly from China and Korea, and they are not good quality, normally made of metal or plastic, but they use the pictures they steal from our marketing materials. There are also some European copies similar in form, though not exactly, and it is expensive to fight against them.

For many years we did not want to come to the U.S. market because of the UL listing. It is expensive for a newcomer. I actually added up that for us to make money we would have had to sell a huge number of lights in USA. That would have been difficult for us because it is such a different market than we are accustomed to, and because the transport costs make our lamps quite expensive there. Before we connected with Global Lighting, we had an agent there, but the effort was very small scale.

The Octo in black is beautiful in a restaurant

Secto Design’s Octo fixture radiating textural light.

Therefore I was very happy, when Larry contacted me at the Qubique fair in Berlin and told me that he was interested in our lighting; that he could solve all of our “problems” regarding sales in USA—transport, certification, marketing, consulting etc. Global Lighting is used to collaborating with European producers and Larry appreciates trademarks and good design. He has created a network covering the entire USA and the people selling the products he offers are specialists who know the brand and the market. Now we no longer need to worry, and we are certain our collaboration will be fruitful. We eagerly await autumn because that will be our first season to show our lights in USA.

We at Global Lighting look forward to getting to know Secto even more!

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