Finland has an outspoken design, which is strong through its simplistic style and use of colour blocking before it became a trend. Helsinki embraces the design loving culture and tries to guide you through the world of design in Helsinki via the ‘Design District Helsinki’ concept. Design District Helsinki brings together creative people in the heart of Helsinki. The district covers Punavuori, Kaartinkaupunki, Kamppi and Ullanlinna. Please note some of my highlights when in Helsinki in my search for design.
At Artek Helsinki’s flagship store I enjoyed the ‘WE LOVE WOOD(s)! exhibition this summer. I tried to get you some names of the designers for this exhibition, but the Finnish website wasn’t of much help ;-). Nevertheless it’s definitely worth a visit.
For two of my favourite Finnish brands it was the opportunity to visit the stores in their home country. Marimekko founded in 1950 has brightly coloured fabrics and a simple style for its fashion and home furnishing. It is recognizable through bold stripes and large flowered prints and established as a household name across the world. The other brand is iittalla which produces table ware, home interior products, and cook ware since 1881. House designers like Aina Aalto and husband Alvar Aalto, Heikki Orvola, and Oiva Toikka continue to surprise and create timeless pieces under the iittala brand. Their big stores in Helsinki are almost next to each other and show the latest in their elaborate collection.
Two not so famous brands (yet) that I came across and I would urge you to pay a visit when in Helsinki are Taigacolors from Jutta Kuure and Lille Lle from Lille. Jutta Kuure creates a bag and interior design collection using her own photography and reworking the pictures till they are turned into captivating vibrant images ready to be used on her products.
Lille is a graphic designer operating under the Lille Lle brand. Her designs are used at T-shirts and posters, and reflect the Finnish style but with a Lille touch. Check her out when in Helsinki or visit the webshop Holvi to buy one of her products.
And when doing Helsinki the design way, you will need to stay in a design hotel! I stayed in Klaus K hotel, which I can definitely recommend. Although the crowd has discovered this hotel also, the staff is still amazing, the design is nice, it has a good price point and a wonderful breakfast. Top that up with free bikes to roam town, and I hope I don’t need to convince you any more. If you are not lucky though to be able to book a room here, try Scandic hotels, which is a smaller chain of hotels in Scandinavia, which has the same vibe and is also often centrally located.