Our Top 5 Finnish Design Discoveries

Lapland probably isn’t the first place you’d think of going in order to investigate the Nordic design scene (unless you live in a log cabin and it’s permanently Christmas). But that’s just it – Lapland, more specifically Finnish Lapland, isn’t a tinsel tastic tacky explosion it’s a tasteful, charming and authentic place with a design and interiors scene that extends far beyond baubles and bells. Having been lucky enough to land a trip to the city of Rovaniemi (read more about our Lapland for Grown Ups adventures here) we weren’t quite sure what to expect on the design front. Liz has a long-standing obsession with all things Scandi so hopes were high that their Nordic neighbours would be equally as sharp in the style stakes.

We weren’t disappointed. Having already explored the likes of Finnish giants Marimekko and Iittala we stumbled upon a small concept store in the city called Mainoa which bills itself as a ‘Design shop that offers high quality Finnish craft and design‘. It was here that the real local gems were discovered, we only arrived 20 minutes before closing but left with a bag full of goodies each…

The Finnish design scene is definitely thriving and should certainly be more celebrated. So in a small bid to raise it’s profile we have compiled our top 5 Finnish design discoveries.

 

1. Kauniste

Kauniste means to decorate or to make beautiful – a pretty apt name if you ask us. This independent Helsinki based company works with talented and award winning illustrators and artists to create a paper goods, fabrics and homewares. Lucky for us they have an online store, but incase you want to browse in person you can find a list of UK stockists here.

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From the top: Note book set €12.00, Calendar 2016 Kitchen Towel Mint €15.00, Mökkilä Blue Cushion Cover €24.00

 

2. Mifuko

A certified member of the World Fair Trade Organization Mifuko’s products are all handmade by women’s self help groups in rural Kenya. Combining contemporary Finnish design with traditional Kenyan handicraft techniques to produce colourful baskets, bags, rugs and ornaments.

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Kiondo baskets From €29,00, Ornaments 3pcs €20.00

 

3. Lovi

This family run company based in Northern Finland produce 3D figures from the highest Finnish quality birch plywood. They come flat pack so it’s your job to assemble them but I imagine it’s slightly more enjoyable than our experience with Swedish flat-pack furniture… Take a look at their online shop, there are loads of different ones to choose from – our favourite was the famous Finnish Moomin character, ‘Snufkin’.

Lovi Finnish design Snufkin with Hattifatteners

Snufkin by Lovi €14.50

 

4. Polkkajam

A family company run from a studio in an old dairy on Kimito Island (southwest Finland), talented creatives Kristiina Haapalainen and Sami Vähä-Aho produce playful imagery inspired by their surroundings (which sounds pretty idyllic to us) and then applied across variety of products including stationary, postcards, posters and wrapping paper.

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 Postcards €1.30, Wrapping paper from €4.50

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Posters from €12.00

 

5. Mark Roberts – Photographer

Mark hails from Blighty, but has made Rovanemi, Finland, his adopted home town, as he goes hiking in the Lapland wilderness searching for the perfect shot. We picked up some of his limited edition prints at Mainoa Design Shop, but you can get your paws on them online, via his online store.

Misty Island photograph by Mark Roberts

Photograph of landscape with trees

 Prints from €12.40

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Swedish Design Icons: Marianne Westman

Born in 1928 in the Swedish Province of Darlarna (home of the Dala Horse), Marianne Westman is a Swedish textile and ceramic designer.  Westman’s career really began when she joined Rörstrand, a porcelain factory, it was here she produced perhaps her most iconic design ‘Picknick’ in 1956.

Such was her success she became known as  ‘Porslinsmamma’ (china mum) in the factory. Westman’s designs are timeless – superb in their simplicity, often depicting or inspired by ordinary items and surroundings. They’re beautifully executed pieces of art but applied to everyday useful objects. Making functional fun. How very Scandinavian.

You can still get hold of some of the original pieces, Etsy has a fair amount in stock. But thanks mainly to Almedahls (a Swedish textile company) plenty of her designs are still in production today. Röstrand have also reconnected with her too, recently re-launching her ‘Mon Amie’ range – in the same year she celebrated her 8oth birthday in fact. So obviously there is a lot still to choose from, but here are a few of my favourites…

 

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1. Picknick Chopping Board £14.97 (Sale), 2. Pomona coaster 4-pack $26, 3. Almedahls Mustard Körsbärsträdgården Scandinavian Fabric £29.95 p/m, 4. Belle Amie pot stand blue $30, 5. Karringen mot Strommen Tray $32  6. Mon Amie Jar $42, 7. Picknick oil cloth £26.50p/m

 

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Glastonbury Weekend: Antics in Axbridge

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There were eight of us. We wanted Glastonbury tickets, it didn’t happen. We wanted to get drunk and dance to aging rock stars and maybe talk to a woman who converses with the oak tree in the Green Fields.  We thought about this…even without the tickets we reckoned we could still make that happen. And so mission #fauxglasto began.

We needed a place to stay and all credit goes to Kath here for all her research and organisation, if you haven’t already seen our previous post about our shortlisted options you should take a look – there are some real gems.

The house we selected won us over for one pretty cool reason – the fact it has it’s very own cinema. Perfect. If we couldn’t glimpse Dolly as a sparkly dot on a stage in real life, then live close up mud-free footage with cinema quality sound and seats would do for us. It was geographically pretty close to the real Glastonbury too, located in Axbridge, Somerset you could see the Glastonbury Tor from the top floor of the house.

Axbridge Roxy Cinema

The building itself is pretty striking, a restored Georgian coaching inn, with a pink limewash finish and accommodation spread over three floors.  There was so much to take in – each room is packed to the rafters with antique furnishings and quirky objects. From the old fashioned library with it’s floor to ceiling books to the Art Nouveau cinema and cocktail bar (theoretically this kind of decade style swapping shouldn’t work but there’s a sense of humour about the place that manages to knit everything together).

Our Faux Glasto House

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It’s a design enthusiasts dream. Whether it’s the original features or the artful additions of the owners, there was plenty to inspire. Below are some of my favourite details from the house, including light switches in the library, art deco inspired lamp in the bar,  50s Sanderson fabric curtains and a demonic grinning cat guarding the alcohol behind the bar.

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As for our #fauxglasto weekend, yes ok it wasn’t the same as being there but heck it sure was a pretty good second best. And don’t worry the interior chat was kept to a minimum – there’s only so much talking you can do after Kath hands you yet another bottle of Somerset strength cider….

Visit AirBnB to see more lovely pictures of the place and book your stay.

 

 

 

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Swedish Design Icons: Olle Eksell

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Olle Eksell was a revered Swedish designer and illustrator. Born in 1918 in Kopparberg (the place not the cider) he studied and then settled in Stockholm with his fashion designer wife Ruth. Eksell made his name in advertising, perhaps his most iconic creation being his Mazetti Cacao Eye design, above, developed for the chocolate and confectionery manufacturer and now adorning the walls of many a stylish home (check out his dedicated instagram feed).

His talent extended across several disciplines, advertising, graphic design, illustration and writing and his creations range from the simple and graphic to the fantastical and abstract. He was way ahead of his time, just take a look at some of his illustrative work. I particularly love his depictions of Stockholm, years later they still capture the scene perfectly. They’re a superb balance of precision and crazy.

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I want at least two of them to feature on my newly painted hallway and thankfully that is a possibility as the Scandinavian Design Center continue to sell his work, so take your pick from posters, tote bags, trays or tea towels.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the man behind the art then I recommend you watch this series of interviews with his wife Ruth. There’s also a pretty comprehensive book available which documents both his professional and private practice.

 

 

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