It may be getting chilly in the Baltics, but Helsinki is heating up. Finland’s biggest city—perhaps best known for its colorful Marimekko prints and Modernist works by the late, great Alvar Aalto, not to mention its abundant saunas—has been named the 2012 World Design Capital.
Like Turin in 2008 and Seoul in 2010, it will host a range of exhibits and events around the world focused on “embedding design in life” while unveiling a crop of high-concept developments back home. Hotly anticipated (pun intended): a public sauna and cultural center designed by Finnish architect cum rapper (yes, you read that correctly) Tuomas Toivonen, a.k.a. TT, slated to open in Helsinki next May.
For now, Marimekko has opened a flagship shop in New York City, while the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) and design-minded flash-sale site Fab.com are both doing pop-up shops with limited-edition Finnish products—from a graphic travel pouch to an iconic Aalto vase.
MAD pop-up shop open until October 28, 2011; Fab.com pop-up until November 21, 2011.
Christine Ajudua is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure.