Design and style from a Scandinavian perspective

My Helsinki Trip

As I wrote last week, I was invited by World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 to visit the Helsinki Design Week and also to get a preview of what will happen in the city next year. We had a very full schedule, touring the city and some other places nearby, looking at lots of design related things like architecture, restaurants, schools, design studios and stores, so I thought I would share some of the highlights of my trip with you!

One of the things that made a big impression on me is the huge pride the Finns take in their country. Finnish design is present in literally all cafés and restaurants in the form of Iittala or Marimekko plates and glasses. Another thing that they are really proud of is their food. Finland is one of the cleanest countries in the world, and that makes for excellent organic produce, berries and vegetables with strong and pure tastes. I got to try some great food made in the simple Finnish tradition, and here are some of the restaurants and cafés that I liked:

SIS Deli is a café/deli chain started by two sisters looking for quick and healthy food, and in lack of thereof they made their own. The idea is simple and healthy organic food made with locally produced ingredients, packed in biodegradable and stylish packages. I tried the SIS Deli at WeeGee Design Centre in Espoo, where they had a small shop in the café as well, with both their own carefully made candy and snacks as well as other nice brands of organic food.


Another stylish restaurant in Espoo is Tiger Sushi, a small sushi chain that you can find in three additional locations. The restaurant is designed by Joanna Laajisto, and while sushi might not seem very Finnish, you should know that Finland has some great tasting fish swimming around in their clean seas!


On my last day in Helsinki I had the pleasure to have lunch at Shanghai Cowboy, where, as the name suggests, they serve a mix of modern asian and mexican cuisine. At lunch you get to choose between two dishes, and with that you get to take your pick from a nice buffe of vegetables and hearty side dishes like noodle salads and couscous. The interiors are quite raw, with seating made of particle board and visible pipes on the walls and ceiling.


One restaurant/bar I unfortunately didn't get to go to was Siltanen, but I heard so many good things about it that it had to be included. Apparently their weekend brunches are to die for!

(photo borrowed from here)


Now on to the shopping! Helsinki has so many great shops and I'm sure I missed lots of great places, but I hope to go back soon... Helsinki has an area called Design District, consisting of 25 streets where you can find lots of stylish places to shop or eat.

My absolute favorite shop was Pino, where the products were displayed so nicely I just couldn't resist getting some things that I know are available in Stockholm too! Pino is the place to go for unique and functional office supplies, vintage shop sign letters and small storage products like boxes and bags. The design and branding concept, created by local-based creative agency Bond, is taken from the name – "Pino" means pile or stack. I also got to talk to the very nice woman behind the counter, Mari Leppälä, who showed me some really nice rugs, baskets and bags that she makes herself. They are crocheted with handles made from vintage belts, and you can see them here.

(top pic borrowed from here)


Aero, for the best 20th century design classics in the city.

(photo from here)


Lux was unfortunately closed when I was there, but it looked like a store I would have loved! Last week there was a pop-up-store within the store by Jeti, a clothing brand that also made some plywood prints I really would have wanted to take a closer look at.


I also went to the Design Museum, where they not only have excellent exhibitions but also a small museum shop and a café that looked quite nice.


If you are looking for new Finnish design talents, just go to Design Forum Finland, a shop/exhibition space/showroom/office/café promoting just that.

And finally one last store that you shouldn't miss: Armas!

And then of course there are the classic giants like Marimekko, Iittala, Artek and Ivana Helsinki (photo below).



Phew, I think that was all for now! I hope you enjoyed reading it!



  • Alexandra K says:

    I love Helsinki. Everytime i go there it is so different. Thank you for sharing! Sounds very interesting.!!

    2011-09-20 | 17:30:12
    URL: http://Www.little-anchor.blogspot.com
  • Tine says:

    Thanks for an exellent post! I allready have a new dream about going to Helsinki - soon!

    2011-09-20 | 17:31:44
    URL: http://www.bungalow5.dk
  • soldoutforever says:

    Now i definitely want to go to helsinki :)

    lovely post

    2011-09-20 | 19:10:37
    URL: http://soldoutforever.com
  • EvaLi says:

    Vad fint skrivet. Du får mig nästan att vilja flytta tillbaka till det fina finska landet ;)

    2011-09-20 | 20:50:58
    URL: http://evali.blogg.se/
  • Johanna says:

    WOW! It´s a lot of inspiration over there.

    2011-09-20 | 22:58:09
    URL: http://madebyje.blogg.se/
  • Eli Terese says:

    Wow that table on the last picture, love it!

    2011-09-21 | 09:50:08
    URL: http://eliterese.wordpress.com/
  • Tove - Formfront says:

    Finsk design har ofta en välbalanserad kombination av utseende och användarvänlighet. Älskar också att de använder obehandlat trä i så stor utsträckning!

    2011-09-21 | 13:27:03
    URL: http://formfront.se
  • Minna says:

    Jag fullkomligt älskar din blogg :)

    2011-09-21 | 15:25:54
    URL: http://smultronstalle.blogspot.com
  • Mari says:

    Hei Emma, so excited to find your Helsinki photos here in your inspiring blog, especially the ones from Pino (btw, I'm an employee there). Thank you for linking my humble blog here :)

    2011-09-21 | 16:09:13
    URL: http://mollamills.com
  • Soona says:

    Oh, so many cool place! Now I want to fly to Helsinki!

    2011-09-21 | 22:28:32
    URL: http://soonhwa.blogspot.com/
  • desiree - vosgesparis says:

    What a great trip you had! The places look all very clean (almost a bit bare) Swan is looking most like it could be here in Amsterdam ;)

    Thanks for sharing x

    2011-09-22 | 00:55:22
    URL: http://vosgesparis.blogspot.com
  • Emma ::emmas designblogg:: says:

    Thanks everyone, I'm happy you liked it! I had a great time and can absolutely recommend Helsinki as a nice destination!

    Tove, absolut, trärent har väl aldrig känns så rätt som nu, och finnarna vet precis hur man ska använda det!

    Mari, thanks! I changed the text now. :)

    Desiree, yes, Helsinki is a clean city, and Finnish style is very simple and clean. I love it!

    2011-09-22 | 01:38:04
    URL: http://emmas.blogg.se/
  • Anonym says:

    helsinki is a very inspiring city for me. i try to go there as often as i can which is usually 4-5 times a year. i just visited it last weekend! got some nice tapio wirkkala glasses from the 60's and a saara hopea jug :)

    2011-09-23 | 20:57:45
    URL: http://hoopoeinanoak.wordpress.com/
  • Anna. says:

    häftigt och annorlunda bord på sista bilden! massor med attityd och personlighet

    2011-09-26 | 18:07:05
    URL: http://passande.blogspot.com
  • studio karin says:

    Sjukt fina bilder Emma! Finnarna har alltid kunnat trärent, men nu ser det mer rätt ut än nånsin tycker jag. Det där Tiger Sushi stället såg så snyggt ut, kombinerar japanskt och finskt till en helt självklar mix, på nåt vis :) Hörs :) // Karin

    2011-09-26 | 23:02:26
    URL: http://studiokarin.blogspot.com
  • Hanna says:

    Nice bilder igen...

    Sushi är så gott va! Blev sugen nu :)

    Mvh / H

    2011-09-27 | 21:27:35
    URL: http://www.grafikonline.se

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