Storybook Helsinki and Beyond
When the architecture of Helsinki or Finland is being discussed, most people think of the clean simple lines of Alvar Aalto’s modernist creations. Yet the wealth of Art Nouveau, Jugendstil, Arts-and-Crafts and even Art Deco period buildings and landmarks around the country is just as remarkable.
Cody Oreck, wife of the American Ambassador to Finland, noticed this soon after settling in Helsinki. “The Finns don’t always see it but to those of us who visit this place, it’s quirky and exuberant—a hugely appealing, totally Finnish take on Jugendstil and Art Nouveau that you simply won’t find anyplace else,” she says.
Inspired by what she saw, Cody put together a big picture book with young Romanian photographer Octavian Bâlea. Their creation is called Storybook Helsinki and Beyond – “something we wanted to find as outsiders but couldn’t.” The book’s photographs – all shot on real film – reveal a darkly colorful and eccentric side of Finland’s capital ‘and beyond’ that is little known abroad but well worth exploring.
‘The story’ is the one this public art and architecture told the world, and even Finns themselves. The story of what it meant to be Finnish instead of Swedish or Russian in the chapter leading to Finnish independence declared in 1917, still speaks to visitors today.
Helsinki is a modern European city, where more than 450 years of history and tradition blend seamlessly with contemporary design and trends. Cosy and compact in size, exploring the Finnish capital is stress free.