A superstar of Finnish chemistry

Orion is founded by Onni Turpeinen, Wikki Walkama and Eemil Tuurala. In the early years of the company, two other men become leading figures as well: K. F. Hirvisalo, the founder of the first private hospital in Finland, and Gustaf Komppa, also known as The Master.

Komppa serves as a professor of chemistry at Helsinki University of Technology and achieves international recognition by identifying the chemical structure of camphor at the beginning of the twentieth century. He also discovers a method for the industrial production of camphor. Komppa is a fascinating combination of scientific curiosity and business instinct: alongside research work, he leads Orion’s Board of Directors for years.

He is equally passionate about his favourite hobby. He takes an interest in exotic plants in the early twentieth century. In 1919, Komppa and his wife, Siiri, purchase the Tammisto estate, between Helsinki and Turku. The soil at Tammisto is calciferous and the vegetation is lush, and the nearby lake makes the climate favourable for many exotic plants.

Suomen Kuvalehti visits the Komppa arboretum in the 1930s: “Conifers and broadleaved trees lay the background for everything. One section of the garden has a pond with water plants. Above the pond, stone steps lead up to the top of a steep rock wall, or ‘the Alps’, where a diverse range of plants grow in every crack in the stones and rock. With its lush vegetation and exotic species of plant, the surroundings of the pond call to mind southern lands: this is the Tammisto tropics.”