Finnish Design & the quirkiness of it all

It has been about 2 years since our last trip back home, to my arctic paradise, and this is typically when I start getting withdrawals. The occasional deliveries of Finnish chocolate and rye bread from visiting relatives don’t seem to do the trick at this stage. To avoid a total meltdown and public humiliation, I will channel my feelings into this blog post, in an effort to share the beauty that is Finland, and its special relationship to design.

What’s distinctive about Finnish design is what’s distinctive about the Finnish people and the way they live their lives: simplicity, functionality, connection to nature, and just a touch of quirkiness. A unique balance exists between high tech and low tech, for a people who LOVE their gadgets, but also relish their time in nature at one of the 168,000 lakes in Finland. This balance also translates to Finnish interior design, where clean lines, crisp, light and bright colors, and a modern aesthetic are balanced by the extensive use of natural wood, which typically consists of locally sourced species like birch.

Finns are serious and direct, seeing no need for small talk, keeping conversations to a point, and efficiency at a max. They do however embrace silly competitions in events such as wife-carrying, boot throwing, air-guitar playing, winter swimming, and sauna bathing. This sense of humor comes through in their use of décor, where Finns like to inject playful pattern and bright color, within an otherwise stark and minimalist palette in a highly functional and efficient design.

 This unique, direct relationship between the people and their chosen aesthetic, is perhaps why Finns are so connected to the design icons that have made them famous worldwide. There is a nationwide appreciation and love for brands that speak to the Finnish spirit.  If you walk into any Finnish home, chances are you will find at least one or more of the following design staples:

1.         Iittala Aalto vase - good for any occasion as it displays just as effortlessly the wildflowers picked on a Saturday night walk, or graduation roses from your grandmother

2.       Marimekko Unikko –bringing on the happy since 1964, this iconic bold, bright pattern decorates bedding, curtains, clothing, bags, dishes… you name it

3.       Hackman Savonia flatware – simple and clean, perfectly sized for any hand, dressy enough for Christmas dinner, informal enough for post-sauna makkara (Finnish sausage, usually grilled over an open fire)

4.       Arabia Teema Dishware – first introduced in the 50’s, ahead of its time, and rereleased in the 80’s, this simple, stackable dish series is supremely practical and classic, making it the most popular dishware series Arabia has to offer

5.       Iittala Birds by Toikka – handblown, colorful, and whimsical, these birds are collected by many, and artfully capture the beauty of nature and glass

Well that didn’t help cure my homesickness at all… I guess I better start booking our next visit!

Written by our very own Finn: Silja Yanz