Wellness to go
This creativity is reflected in the company’s projects. In addition to sauna, pool and steam room lighting, the company offers fully-equipped mobile saunas and spas. “At the moment, we are delivering a full sauna to the Finnish Pavilion for the Olympic Games in Tokyo,” Ruokonen reveals. “Nobody has seen it yet.”
Cariitti also lit up a Saunaboat in Helsinki with SCHOTT fibers. This small ferry has dressing rooms, saunas and resting rooms on board and cruises through the Baltic Sea. “It is nice: You can come out of the sauna and jump directly into the sea,” Ruokonen says. The large Finnish hotel chain Lapland Hotels is also equipped with Cariitti products. “As every room has its own sauna, we lit up 180 saunas inside of the Lapland Hotel in Helsinki.”
Sauna lighting over the years
Ruokonen has worked in the lighting industry most of his life. In 2008, he took over Cariitti from his father. He has seen many trends come and go. “Cariitti was the first company that lit up saunas with fiber optics,” he says. Since then, the company has changed the sauna experience with its high-level ambient lighting.
“I think it’s quite rare that a small company like us can influence an entire industry,” Ruokonen says. “Especially when you think of the strict regulations that apply, we have made a lot possible thanks to glass fibers. Now, we can light up whatever we want: heaters, thermometers, water bowls, ceilings and benches.” The possibilities and combinations are countless.
Nevertheless, there have been changes in general taste. Whereas in the past, people used to like starry skies and many small points of light in their sauna, today they prefer even light coming from the ceiling or behind the benches. To accomplish this, Cariitti developed special glass rods that fit on glass fiber bundle ends. “They are a bit tricky to install,” Ruokonen explains. “But I’m convinced they are the best solution to achieve this effect in saunas.”
Another short-term trend were flexible LED strips. “As LEDs became more popular, many of our customers thought this was the end for fiber optics,” Ruokonen says. “But LED strips aren’t designed for saunas. They won’t last very long in the hot and humid environment.” On the other hand, light sources that are combined with fiber optics are basically maintenance-free. “I also think that people got bored by the changing colors. Many saunas looked like circuses,” he jokes. He sees white light as a classic, more traditional alternative.
The wellness industry is growing worldwide. “Nowadays, people have more private time and more money,” he says. “They want to invest in themselves.” In his opinion, people not only increasingly use public saunas and spas but also build their own private saunas. He adds: “As people spend more time at home, they want it to be a nice and comfortable place.”