Inside Tylko

March 21, 2017

Sustainable Shelf Life: An Interview with Tylko Founder Mikołaj Molenda

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Protecting resources while producing furniture – how Tylko maintains the balance.

From his early days surfing to founding a sustainable shelving design company, Tylko founder Mikołaj Molenda has always had a predilection for preserving nature. To observe  International Forest Day, we sat down with him to chat about how he puts this mindset into practice at Tylko.

What does a “sustainable lifestyle” mean to you?

I’ve been an avid surfer since I was 9 years old. I was always in contact with nature, and I was shocked when I would see so much garbage floating in the ocean. “How does this affect the species living in it… and at the end of the day – us humans?”, I would wonder. For me, “sustainability” is not only trying to counteract the worsening global warming and deforestation situations, but also trying to determine what we can do in order to see our forests flourish. It is not just taking from Mother Nature, but also giving something back to her.

What does “giving back” mean to you?  

We need to care more about the flora and fauna that surrounds us in a manner that allows trees and other living creatures to grow in a safe environment. So obviously, simple things like not throwing away trash in parks and other green areas is a step. And recycling! I try to be very environmentally-conscious. I try to buy products that are high-quality and come from environmentally-friendly suppliers. The priority some companies have of lowering production costs is not always so good for the environment- this is how the current economy works and it takes a concentrated effort to live against it. When I go to the shop and forget to take my backpack, I also just stick all the products into my jacket so I don’t have to use plastic bags. Hence my stretched pockets. [laughs] 

How does sustainability and social culture tie into the idea of also protecting human capital?

In a sense, yes. Look at what Finland is doing: the majority of forests in this Nordic country are private property. Families ensure that the flora on their lands flourishes, and for every felled tree at least one is replanted. This is done not only to protect the environment and reduce human impact on it, but also for future generations. The Finnish want to provide their kids and grandchildren with an investment that’s beneficial to the environment but also secures their future. They want to live in a sustainable, eco-friendly environment. So it’s great to make furniture that’s so durable it will outlive the trees planted to replace them.

So this is why Tylko uses Finnish companies to produce its plywood?

It is one of the reasons! We care about the quality. For us, customer satisfaction is essential from the moment they design their perfect-fit shelf until they assemble it a snap. Our partners in Finland have various certifications such as FSC and PEFC-timber. This highlights their sustainable and environmentally-friendly policies. When we went to visit our partners, we discovered that they even heat and provide power to their factories using the wood chips leftover from the production line. Isn’t that efficient and cool?

Is that what makes Tylko shelves really sustainable?

Look at it this way: It all starts with the design process. Thanks to our software we are able to use only the precise amount of wood that is required by our customer. Our supply is strongly correlated with the demand. We don’t have any storage facilities, and all the products that come from our suppliers’ factories were individually ordered by customers. This means that much less CO2 is produced than at regular furniture companies, and there are no unnecessary middlemen or extra transportation , which are often used in traditional furniture companies. There’s no unused waste stock sitting around either, and everything is produced according to our customers’ individual designs. And even our packaging is made out biodegradable materials!