Q&A with Alexander Hjertström - CEO & Co-Founder of Airinum

 

How did AIRINUM begin?

The idea behind Airinum started while I was on exchange at the MBA school IIM-A in India and started to get astma-like symptoms from the heavy air pollution. I started wearing a mask myself but it was quite a horrible experience, as the ones I tried barely worked, were really uncomfortable and made me look like a miner or dentist. I decided to find the best mask possible on the market, regardless of the price, but really struggled to find something decent. That is when I see the opportunity to develop an innovative mask for urban everyday use.

Since I moved back to Sweden, I teamed up with a bunch of talented entrepreneurs, who loved the idea of bringing a product to life that could truly help people live healthier. Within a year, we developed probably the most advanced breathing mask in the world and started selling it to over 50 countries. Since then, we have had tremendous demand from different cities: New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing and Hong Kong.  

Positive feedbacks from the market injected loads of energy into the team who is more dedicated than ever to continue on developing and innovating products that can empower people to live healthy. 

What was the design process for Airinum like?

Basically, we tried to get our hands on every mask out on the market. Then we built our own lab in Stockholm and rented some advanced equipment to test the masks. We noticed that majority of masks failed badly, both on filter capability and on fit-factor (air leakage). So we focus early on on three things: 1) Superior protection and filter efficiency, 2) Comfort and breathability and 3) Style – we wanted it to be an everyday lifestyle accessory like a pair of sunglasses. 

We collaborated with engineers and designers from Filippa K & H&M while prototyping. We then had focus-groups that tested these prototypes and gave feedback that we immediately could react to. The objective was to be agile even though we had a physical product.

The final output took almost a year, but it turnt out pretty good.

How effective is Airinum against the especially dangerous pollutants?

The mask has a triple filter technology that protects against gases, PM 2.5, bacteria and other harmful particles, filtering up to 98.8% of everything down to 0.3üm. This is one of the best and most advanced filters you can use to get superior protection, while maintaining a good breathability. But as important as the filter technology is the fit-factor, which Airinum excels. It has an innovative face-fitting system, allowing the wearer to have minimal air-leakage.

What makes Airinum different to other breathing masks already in the market? 

The mask has been improved in every aspect compared to most masks in the market today. It has a better fit, advanced filter technology, innovative ventilation system and a Scandinavian minimalist design that speaks to urban dwellers all around the world.

What’s the most challenging aspect of creating a mask?

The most challenging aspect of the mask is the balance between protection and breathability. This mask has been design for everyday urban use, such as walking, biking and commuting in general. However, it is not designed for heavy sports activities such as running or other athletic activities. We are currently looking into a mask that would be engineered for sport, but that is thus far only in the pipeline.

What's your favourite AIRINUM Mask Color ?

My favorite mask color is the M90 Blue Limited Edition. It combines making a statement with a sleek design. If I want to be a bit more classy, I would go with black, which fits any outfit.

How would you style with AIRINUM Mask? 

To me, Airinum is fashion and health tech, where function and fashion is intertwined into the whole product. It has that street feeling in it, similar to Supreme for example, but the details are like Apple. Therefore, I can wear my Airinum mask when I'm kicking my street outfit but also while suiting up to work. The Airinum mask is just like a pair of sunglasses, they protect your health, but at the same time allow you to make a statement.