vernon & second nature

Janne is an old soul - one of the last good ones. As a landscape architect he brings projects to life, which really stand out. His amazing vision is connected to his surroundings and grounded with nature. 

Enjoy this timeless interview from Lodown #83 and his latest collaboration – the Janne Saario edition of the Vernon. The sneaker silhouette in suede leather features a padded collar, leather reinforcements, a vulcanized construction and a customized insole graphic which reflects the element advocate’s handwriting – one of his architecture designs.

"Many Finnish people have summer cottages. It seems to be a national right to be able to escape the city and go back to nature. Playing hunter and gatherer in further primitive conditions gives great pleasure. The cottage works as a time machine to the past."

You always have amazing balance. When did you start skating? Did you do yoga?
I started skateboarding when I was 6 years old. I did Judo, (orange belt - three dans), which helped me fall without hitting my head. On the other hand, the "Ukemi" came many times when it's not required and I hit my hand really hard on the ground without a real reason. But generally, I haven't done any helping exercises. I think skateboarding is enough to keep me in balance.

Tell me about your connection to the woods and the natural environment? You seem to spend some time in the nature to ground yourself...
I have spent a lot of time in the summer cottage of my family and nearby forests of my childhood home. These wild grown environments have a certain atmosphere that can't be found from manmade spaces. The feeling of this unplanned yet so organized structure of the forest has fascinated me for a long time. I think when you enter the forest, certain senses become more alert. I start listening more, also to myself. My mind is more clear and it can actually be a healing experience.
We are quite urban already in most places in Europe and the natural environment might be far away. It's a challenge to find a way to take time and go to these kinds of environments. The Japanese have a long tradition of living in urban conditions and they can actually connect to nature through a tiny garden or small bonsai tree.

Three items a man should own...
A knife, cordless screwdriver, and a pen.

What is your favorite material to work with and why?
At the moment I'm designing a lot of places to be made out of concrete. I'm also fascinated by natural stones and vegetation which is constantly growing and changing throughout the seasons.

Which landscape architects or architects in general are you looking out for? Who is inspiring you lately?
I haven't paid attention lately too much on the new stuff that is going on. But to name few, Sami Rintala is one Finnish master, Bjarke Ingels is very creative and Kengo Kuma is having a lot of roots in the works. But generally I'm mostly inspired by the life around me, seasons changing, family and friends. Right kind of motivation is sometimes more important than pure inspiration.

Where is the future heading to?
Hopefully into new adventures with inspiring people. I hope to be able to contribute to skateboarding through my work and make the most out of the potential of the projects I'm doing. I'm also eager to become better as an architect, husband, father, and of course as a skateboarder. 


Image captions by Janne:

. Striiti
Striitti was a skateable wooden sculpture for an art exhibition in Fiskars, Finland. In Fiskars they have just one asphalt road in town and you can't really skate that cause it's the main road for cars. I suggested an alternative version of the asphalt road.. The sculpture has been exhibited for a couple winters in a row, turning a part of the art museum into a local skatepark. 

. Grani
Skatepark Grani was maybe the most longterm project I have had so far. The project took 2,5 years and plans went through big changes, but the original idea stayed clear. The ground ate a lot of budget, since it was 7 meters of clay. But to compensate, we got recycled granite from an old torn down skate spot that was located nearby. Finally the space and the newly ordered stone slabs found harmony and the small space came together.

. Steel Park
City of Luleå has a unique northern character and a history of manufacturing steel. The skatepark has a view to Luleå's biggest steel factory. The park turned into a link between history of the neighbourhood and present day situation. Recycled steel factory parts and various steel elements are used to unify the look of the park. The biggest object is a ladle what they used to pour out the melted steel and became a landmark when it was positioned at the highest point.