Who is Mr. Johan von Knorring and how did you end up working at the House of Nobility?
I am Mr. Johan von Knorring, M.Sc., and I was appointed as managing director at the House of Nobility in January 2018. I found this position interesting, as it gives me an opportunity to be part of sharing the history of the House of Nobility to others as well as to cherish the cultural heritage of this institution. I was already familiar with the House of Nobility before my current position through several functions and my family belongs to the nobility.
Tell me about the history of the Finnish House of Nobility?
The history of the Finnish House of Nobility dates back to 1809, the year when Sweden lost Finland in the war and Finland became a Grand Duchy of Russia. The noble families, previously members of the Swedish Nobility, were suddenly separated from it. Alexander I, the Grand Duke of Finland and Emperor of Russia, continued the Swedish system of nobility in Finland, and the Finnish House of Nobility was founded. By 1818, all noble families of Swedish descent that remained in Finland after the war were registered and numbered; therefore, the year 1818 is considered to be the year the Finnish House of Nobility was established. The building was designed by the architect George Th. Chiewitz and the construction of the palace was completed in 1862.
What are the main functions of the House of Nobility today?
The Emperor continued to award peerages until 1919 when Finland started a new system of government and became a republic, after which it has not been possible to raise anyone to nobility—not even today. Though this gave the nobility a more private nature; life, values and some of their activities did not vanish. Today, the General Assembly of the Finnish nobility takes place every three years, and the main tasks of the House of Nobility are administration as well as taking care of the collections and the palace. An important task of ours is to convey the role of the House of Nobility in the history of Finland.
What is your view on sustainability, and why do you think it is hard for people and companies to apply sustainable practices?
Sustainability as a concept is very intriguing to me as a chemical engineer and as a businessman, too. In my opinion, the problem is the fact that we generally are more inclined to consumerism. It’s hard to convince people and companies to make a change to using more sustainable practices as long as we are focused on materialism. Currently, quantity surpasses quality; and in the fashion industry, for example, many garments are so cheap and poorly made that they are not even intended to last. When you start counting all the steps that are included in manufacturing a piece of clothing, many retail prices are just not making any sense. It is quite evident that these practices cannot be sustainable, and I don’t understand the logic of it.