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Guide to 2012's World Design Capital: Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland: A21 Dining

A head-to-hand guide to this year’s World Design Capital.

Smell: Lilies and lilacs mingling with the aroma of freshly brewed espresso at the cozy café and flower shop Fleuriste. 13 Uudenmaankatu; 358-40/051-9745.

See: Cutting-edge furniture and light installations at Design Gallery 12 inside the downtown Design Museum, which showcases work from creative up-and-comers. 23 Korkeavuorenkatu; 358-9/622-0540.

Hear: Symphony No. 2 by renowned Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, performed by the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra at the recently opened Helsinki Music Center. April 25–26; 13 Mannerheimintie; 358-20/707-0400.

Touch: Silk sundresses and feather-print tunics from local fashion house Ivana Helsinki at its flagship store. 15 Uudenmaankatu; 358-50/505-1624.

Taste: Foraged meadow herbs with elderflower vinaigrette and cloudberry-glazed wild boar at A21 Dining, the city’s latest hot spot, or a basil-and-rhubarb martini at its chic neighboring cocktail bar. 17 Kalevankatu; 358-40/171-1117; dinner for two $105.

Photo courtesy of A21

Stockholm’s Artsy Birkastan Neighborhood

Stockholm

On the outskirts of Sweden’s capital, the neighborhood of Birkastan has become a center for the city’s new creative class. Here are our favorite insider spots:

Ulrika Sandström Studio: Feminine frills and romantic ruffles get a dose of rock-and-roll in the homegrown designer’s latest collection, but don’t miss her line of neutral shifts at the pocket-size shop. 36 Norrbackagatan; 46-8/5456-4410; ulrikasandstrom.se.

Carin Wester: The current darling of the Stockholm fashion scene, Wester stands out with sharp silhouettes and playful prints for men and women, all on display in her white-walled boutique. 24 Rörstrandsgatan; 46-8/305-415; carinwester.com.

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