Narrowly dodging a rigid corporate law career, Saskia and her husband have built a world-class furniture and homewares concept brand with a strong connection to nature, sustainability and Australia’s indigenous communities.
What informed the style and set up at Koskela?
After focusing on the business side of things, about eight years ago we looked at where the future of the business lay and what was happening around us and it felt like the options for retail customers were really limited. There were these showrooms full of furniture and I remember we started watching people interact with them and they always looked so uncomfortable and were unsure if they would sit on the sofa but, when we did have some residential customers, we encouraged people to actually lie on the sofa.
What is your connection to plants and nature?
It’s an important part of my wellbeing. Nature is where I get my greatest sense of inspiration and a real feeling of grounding, and also the ability to regain that sense of wonder that you can so easily lose in your day-to-day life.
“Our office is covered in plants and it gives you a sense of peace by growing living things.”
How important is it to have a presence of nature in your retail space?
It’s critical. We are in such an urban environment and one of the things we loved about this building was the big old paperbark trees on the streetscape. Otherwise, it’s all hard surfaces largely – the plants help to soften things. We get requests constantly from people wanting to take cuttings of the vines!
Does nature have an influence on your creativity?
When you actually get out in nature or you see things growing, it restores you in a way. I don’t think you can be creative constantly feeling under pressure.
You and your partner have been running this business for almost 20 years, what are some of your greatest successes?
Ongoing collaborations with indigenous communities for close to a decade. That’s my biggest source of pride. It’s also pretty cool we have some of our pieces in the Pinterest head office in America! The fact that we’ve stuck true to our values is super important to us, too.
How would you rate your plant life balance?
You can never have enough! There’s always room for more.
Do you have any advice for people to ensure they are getting enough plant life balance?
One is to get some of those rock solid indoor plants. You know the ones that will go in low light. See if there are little ways you can grow things on your window sills or things that are edible if you have enough sun. And otherwise, it’s about getting yourself outside, be it at lunchtime on your break.
Here are some Paradise Trader plants to get you started:
- Elephant Ear
- Kentia Palm
- ZZ Palm
- Devil’s Ivy
- Mother-in-Law’s Tongue