A Marimekko Exec's Guide to Helsinki
Since the '50s and '60s, the splashy poppies of Finnish fashion and design company Marimekko have infused fun into midcentury shapes and styles. What started as a garment company producing textiles with designs by the founder's friends has became a pattern juggernaut, and arguably some of the most visible design to come out of Finland (which, it should be said, has produced a lot of influential design).
Now, the company's president, Tiina Alahuhta-Kasko, gives us a tour of Helsinki, including where to cozy up with a cinnamon bun, where to find the best antiques, and, of course, her recommendations for design to-dos:
Eat & Drink
"Often on Sunday evenings, I like to cozy up with a cup of hot chocolate and a warm cinnamon bun at this one-of-a-kind café by the sea. Located in a small red cottage decorated with old treasures and with tunes from the past decades playing in the background, one cannot help but let one’s imagination run wild."
"To me, Savoy represents the ultimate Finnish gastronomic experience and is my choice for special occasions. With its iconic Alvar Aalto architecture and beautiful view over the Esplande Park and rooftops of the heart of Helsinki, this restaurant caters to the other senses as well."
"Restaurant Day is a vibrant food carnival during which anyone can set up a restaurant for a day. The carnival was started in Finland in 2011, and today it has grown to be the world’s biggest food festival, celebrated in hundreds of cities around the world. Being a bit of a foodie myself, I love this event, as you can just wander around in the city throughout the day and enjoy the most interesting, new experiences. The next restaurant day will take place on November 21."
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
"Focused on showcasing Finnish contemporary art, Kiasma always offers an inspirational journey through its participative exhibitions. Finland has a lot of extremely talented young artists whose work and progress I enjoy following."
"Finland being world-famous for design, one cannot come to Helsinki and not visit the Design Museum. The Museum is frequented by locals like myself, as well. One of my favourite exhibitions there to date is Anthology of Finnish Fashion that will run until September 20."
"Located just a 15-minute drive (soon metro) from Helsinki centre, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA is a fun day destination for the entire family and features one of my all-time favourite pieces: the Futuro house designed by architect Matti Suuronen. This elliptical house is a true manifestation of the space-age architecture and design of the late 1960s—I like its surrealness!"
Running in Kaivopuisto
"I keep my head clear by jogging along the Baltic sea and in the Kaivopuisto Park. I love how the four seasons transform the scenery. This is the best way to start any morning."
Marimekko Factory Store
"In addition to the Marimekko flagship store and other stores in Helsinki center, another very popular Marimekko shopping destination is our factory store at the Marimekko-house that includes our headquarters as well as our textile printing factory. Visiting us here, you get to experience the Marimekko art of printmaking come to life in one of our tours and follow up with a healthy meal at the Maritori lunch restaurant specialising in organic food. Definitely worth the 15-minute metro ride from the city center!"
"I am a fan of Finnish shoe designer Minna Parikka’s fun and whimsical style. Her Bunny Sneaks sneakers definitely lighten up every step on a busy day."
"Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi is one of the most renowned and awarded Finnish designers, who has had her own label, Vuokko, since 1964. Before that, Vuokko was part of crafting Marimekko’s design idiom as one of the company’s first designers. A visit to her store is always a wonderful experience—you may even get to meet the designer herself there."
Akateeminen Kirjakauppa, i.e. the Academic Book Store
"Striking in its simplicity, Alvar Aalto interior meets one of the largest bookstores in Europe. After picking up some new books, I often have coffee and maybe a pastry in the Aalto Café located in the second floor. It’s one of my favorite spots in Helsinki."
Antique Store Fasaani
"Huge, but well-hidden antique store in the charismatic Korkeavuorenkatu street. I am a fan of mixing old and new, simple and intricate, so I love an exploration in this store. Such of feeling of joy, when you discover for example a design classic that you have been hunting for or something completely unexpected!"