Interview  /  April 2020

Designer Seppo Koho on Kuulto ceiling lamp

1. How did your collaboration with Secto Design start?

I met the founder of Secto Design Mrs. Tuula Jusélius when I was still a student at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki. The university organized a matchmaking event for young designers and companies. After meeting and discussing with Mrs. Jusélius at the event my head was buzzing: I was full of ideas and just kept on drawing throughout the night. On the following morning I called Mrs. Jusélius and presented my ideas. She was convinced and the deal was sealed!

The first assignment I got from Mrs. Jusélius was a furniture collection. When the clients were searching for lamps that would go nicely together with the furniture line, Mrs. Jusélius gave me another assignment and I designed the first Secto pendant. That was how the Secto Design lighting collection was born.

From the very beginning our collaboration has been relaxed and easy. We understand each other. We share respect for Northern wood, clear Scandinavian design and professional woodworking. All the Secto Design lamps are made in Finland of certified Finnish birch.

2. What is the original idea behind the Kuulto ceiling lamp?

Before Kuulto (not available in North America) there were various pendant, table, wall and floor lamps in the Secto Design collection. The customers kept asking if Secto Design could make a ceiling lamp, that could be used in hallways and lobbies. There was a need for a lamp that wouldn’t be hanging but instead be fixed to the ceiling. Traditionally these types of lights have been made of plastic or glass. So, I received yet another assignment from Mrs. Jusélius who carefully listens to the customers’ wishes and has an instinct for forecasting great timings for bringing out new products.

3. What is the Kuulto ceiling lamp made of?

Kuulto lamp is made of form pressed birch slats, white painted steel casing and acrylic glass. Despite the other materials that are needed for the technical parts, the Finnish birch is in the main role giving the lamp the right character.

A bedroom with the black laminated Kuulto ceiling lamp on the left and a close-up of the Kuulto on the right.

The Kuulto ceiling lamp (not available in North America) is suitable both for public and private spaces. Photo by Uzi Varon.

4. How is your designing process like? 

My designing process starts with paper and pencil. I make the first drawings in my sketchbook by hand. Then, I make more detailed 1:1 drawings with my computer and finally a prototype in my own prototype workshop. Handcrafting is very important to me. It is fascinating to feel the material and create something new with your own hands.

5. How long did the designing process of the Kuulto ceiling lamp take?

The process took a year from an idea into a prototype, which was introduced in 2016. After the prototype phase it was very challenging to find the best technical process for series production. My estimation is that the entire process took two years in total. 

6. What was the most challenging aspect of producing the Kuulto ceiling lamp?

The bent joints in Kuulto lamp are very challenging because every angle in each joint is different. It demands preciseness and dexterity. In general, at the beginning twenty years ago, it was challenging to make people believe in wooden lamps as the Secto Design lamps were the very first wooden design lamps on the market. 

7. Tell us a bit about the manufacturing process?

First, the birch wood is form pressed and cut into slats. Joining the slats together demands dozens of stages, lots of special methods and tools developed and built in the Secto Design factory. But the secret is not in the technology but in the expertise of the very skillful carpenters who really care for details.

The Kuulto ceiling lamp in black laminate and walnut veneer from the side, white laminate and natural birch from the front.

The round design of the Kuulto lamp (not available in North America) looks different depending on perspectives.

8. What kind of interiors is this the Kuulto lamp suitable for?

Kuulto ceiling lamp works both in public and private spaces. I think a sign of a great product is that it is versatile.

9. What makes the Kuulto ceiling lamp special?

The Kuulto ceiling lamp stands out for three reasons: First, its interesting round design looks different depending on perspectives. Second, its material wood was not commonly used among the ceiling lamps before Kuulto. So it is very innovative. Third, Kuulto lamp is versatile: it can be used both on the wall and in the ceiling independently or in larger compositions. The light source is dimmable and one can adjust the atmosphere by dimming it.

10. How would you describe Kuulto in 3 words?

Purity of line.

11. What is your design philosophy?

I aim to create lamps that give harmonious light. In my lamps the light source never blinds the viewer. I like playing with light and shadows. It makes me truly happy that my lamps have become timeless classics that are passed from one generation to another.