While searching for Orthex, which we dubbed “the Muji of Finland”, I came across this interesting tidbit in a Finnish newspaper Ilta Santomat.
The company’s most successful product, launched in 1995, is called Jäänalle and is still sold today. It’s what the Finns call a ‘freezer box’, or what we would call a food storage container designed to withstand the rigors of freezing. Around 70 million of these have been sold so far; jeanalle “can be found in more Finnish homes than any other object,” writes the newspaper.
It seems like a simple design, but Ilta Santomats An interview with the industrial designer Laura Huhtela-Bremer reveals that a lot of thought has gone into it. “My starting point has always been that you have to think about the user. I’m a trained industrial designer and that’s in our DNA,” says Huhtela-Bremer.
“Jäänalle differed from its predecessors in many ways. Huhtala-Bremer started her work by thinking about what kind of freezer box she didn’t want to use.”
“Jäänalle’s corners are rounded, making it easier to scoop out the contents of the box than with its sharp-edged predecessors. Thanks to the rounded corners, the content freezes more evenly and faster. The thing was even tested in the laboratory.”
“The lid of the box is recessed to allow the bottom of the others to fit snugly. The boxes stack easily on top of each other, but there is still enough space between them to allow cold air to flow into the freezer. Boxes also fit inside each other easily but don’t stick together.”
“Stiffness ribs run around the top of the ice cube, allowing the box to hold its shape even when hot juice is poured inside. The cutouts in the top corners provide room for a thumb, which can be used to easily click the lid open. Earlier models had a tab on the lid to open. However, this was often too small. The bigger one would have broken off like ice.”
What blew my mind: The company made sure that the Jäänalle molds – which cost “tens of thousands of euros” – had the Huhtala-Bremer name stamped into the ground.
Photo credit: Pete Aarre-Ahtio / Ilta Santomat
That’s what you expect from a Vignelli, a Starck; That the company did it for a then young designer of a rather humble object is admirable.
The steel molds naturally wear out and need to be replaced after four to five million cycles. Unfortunately, somewhere down the line, the company dropped Huhtala-Bremer’s name from the new molds.
Following Carolyn Davidson’s story – she is the designer of the original Nike logo – Huhtala-Bremer received a lump sum for her work, not a royalties; She didn’t benefit financially from the wild success of the product.
This is a given for most industrial designers. But at least Huhtala-Bremer has received some recognition, and it must feel good to know that your name is on the most owned property in the country.