Falling In Love With Finnish Design
Finnish design isn’t just something you see — it’s something you experience. It begins the moment you step off the plane at Helsinki’s Vantaa airport, follows you everywhere and stays with you long after you’ve gone.
Written by Karen MacKenna, a Canadian photographer-writer who lost her heart to Finnish design nearly two decades ago.
My love affair began in 1995. That first time I arrived by boat, sailing through the Finnish archipelago into Helsinki Harbour. It was late June and the stalls at the Market Square were an astonishing sea of colours with mountains of strawberries, tumbling into wild blueberries that spilled into chanterelles. It was a display that was not only a celebration of food but hinted at a people who saw beauty in nature’s bounty.
Finns take inspiration from nature and spin it into beloved objects, architecture and a blueprint for a way to live. The very essence of Finnish design is in its ability to take the natural world and seamlessly weave it into everyday life.
Design That Cares
Finnish design pays attention to detail. Everything is designed with care. The path you walk along, the way a chair feels when you sit in it, the particular way flowers are wrapped.
And made beautiful just for you.
Living With Design & the “three icons”
The Finns use their design in daily life. When you go to a cafe in Finland you will drink from Iittala glasses. You will sit on Alvar Aalto stools and stare out the window and see women walking by in Marimekko dresses.
Embracing The Past
Good design is timeless. When you find something that works you keep it. Nothing is too old.
As the famous Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto once said:
- Nothing is ever reborn but neither does it totally disappear. And that which has once been born, will always reappear in a new form.
What's Finland like?
Contrasts are the main ingredient in Finnish cultural life – like running from a hot sauna to an icy lake, we embrace them to the fullest.