It is easy to miss this Helsinki gallery and shop at Pieni Roobertinkatu 4. There is an archway in a line of shops and a very steep and dark ramp leading down to the entrance. Part of Artek, and just two blocks south of the main store but, more significantly, just one block north of the design museum, the two could not be more different physically. The store is bright, spacious, sharply clean to reflect the style and quality of the products. 2nd Cycle is a series of irregular basement rooms and spaces piled high with storage on display but here perhaps is the soul of the furniture company. That sounds stupidly melodramatic but I spent some time here looking at the furniture and other items and discussing design with Antti Tevajärvi, a member of the staff. As we talked local people and tourists wandered in to buy or often simply to indulge in a little nostalgia and exchange stories about pieces of furniture they own or had once owned.
In an earlier post I recommended a film profile about 2nd Cycle that was made by Monocle design magazine. All I can add for myself, now having visited 2nd Cycle, is that this gallery and shop shows that not only should good design for mass-produced pieces have an important place in our lives but that well-made and well-designed items should have an ongoing place in our lives. The finest pieces here are of museum quality and as part of an Artek archive they are of real significance in the history of design but equally the less well-preserved pieces, scratched or chipped or worn, reflect their important place in the real lives of real people.