Remember the days when not paying too much attention to speed limits, smoking in restaurants and nonchalantly slinging your pocket rubbish on to the High Street were pretty much part of the fabric of day-to-day living?
We are probably among the last generation to have acted with such environmental indifference. It was just the way it was and many of today’s generation frown on us for our past consumer habits. Today, even the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags can induce guilt. Tomorrow’s generation will have an even greater expectation of more responsible behaviour, there is no doubt. Ever increasing numbers of environmentalists lay testament to the responsibility we all have and this is being reflected by a changing consumer mind-set.
And so, as a result, more and more companies are going green. Some more than others, of course, and it may be to a lesser or greater extent – ranging from sending e-mail instead of letters through the door, all the way through to developing products that create less long term harm to our planet.
Change usually occurs deliberately, either by government “nudging” or by a radical commercial development. Often the two rise to the fore at the same time.
The current concern for both government and consumer is that of sustainability and sometimes a trailblazer has to set the bar to lead the way, to “nudge” us down the path towards a safer environment. One sector of the home industry not entirely noted for its commitment to developing eco products in an accessible or affordable format is my own industry, Kitchens.
Puustelli's new and pioneering innovation, the Miinus range of kitchens, has blown that belief out of the water and provided me with a 'road to Damascus' moment.
The Finnish kitchen manufacturer spent 3 years and a €1.5 million financial investment in developing a ground-breaking carcass that ticks all the enviro-friendly boxes and more.
I first happened upon this radical attempt to evolve the kitchen after reading a piece about the Industrial designer Juhani Salovaara's work on the development that brought about this exciting change range.
In May 2013, Puustelli launched its Miinus range and today it's an established brand sold via dealerships across Finland, Sweden and Russia.
Excitingly, it’s also recently been introduced into the UK and ethical buyers will now have the luxury of purchasing a choice that meets their needs.
But, there’s more to this pioneering range than meets the eye. The material properties of the Miinus range are pretty revolutionary and improve upon the specifications of conventional kitchens.
Take for instance, the injection moulded carcassframe, composed of an Earth friendly biocomposite, it's not only lighter but stronger than the chipboard/MDF offerings that have crowded the kitchen market since fitted kitchens became all the rage back in the 70's and before.
Another huge advantage, that brings to an end the “soggy Weetabix finish” familiar to many consumers when they inspect the bottom shelf in their sink cabinets, is that the carcass frame is water resistant. Yes!! Shocking isn't it, to think that the cupboard below your sink is almost as vulnerable to water ingress as a sponge.
Over the years, I’ve been left utterly underwhelmed at the lack of environmental ambition and new innovation shown by kitchen furniture manufacturers in the face of a changing planet and so it’s no great shock that this pioneering furniture came from a country renowned worldwide for it's innovation.
Still, a hot topic of debate among UK Kitchen retailers, reps and industry commentators, has been, which manufacturers offer the best kitchen to consumers?
It's a debate that focuses, almost entirely, on comparing German and British kitchen brands? Arguments centre on the different specifications and thicknesses of the materials along with the level of manufacturers support and the varied lead times. All good barometers for determining the best of the current bunch, I agree.
Ironically though, this debate fails to recognise the one thing that most current brands have in common. The vast majority of cabinets, from whatever country of origin, are constructed using the same material, melamine faced chipboard.
Whilst one manufacturer may use a thicker back panel or another may have greater rigidity because of the way it’s constructed, chipboard and, in many cases, chipboard that utilises glues containing urea formaldehyde to bind the wood chips together, has been the preferred board choice in their construction for the past four decades and counting.
It's a debate I wholeheartedly entered into for many years aware, all of that time, that chipboard cupboards were vulnerable to irreparable damage once water found a way in. I even developed a prototype of a waterproof sink tray that would prevent leaks entering into the chipboard. It worked, it would prevent cabinet damage today butwe've moved a whole number of issues on from that and Miinus addresses them all.
It was built entirely on ecological grounds and that ethos runs right the way through the operation from the moment an order is placed right through to filling the cupboards of your new Miinus
Kitchen. It’s an ethos that everyone associated with the range has a commitment to - an eco-imperative if you like.
It’s my role to spread the word here and perhaps I could be accused of a certain bias because of this but throughout my long career in kitchens, I have never promoted, supported or was so eager to pour praise on any kitchen range until now. That’s a strong statement but I firmly believe the introduction of Miinus is an epic change that presents us with the next generation of the kitchen.
Puustelli recently announced their first UK Miinus approved retailer, Four Seasons Interiors in Leeds and their aim is to grow the network across the UK and Ireland. Their plans to do so are being met with great enthusiasm by retailers and developers alike, that I believe their ambitions will progress quickly.
So, if you're a kitchen retailer or housing developer looking to satisfy the needs of a growing number of environmentally conscious buyers, a game changing range has arrived.
Press Contact: Tim Foley