Stylish Design: The Finnish Way…by MSalonen


As you all know, I went down to the homeland last week. I needed to get away from everything…the upcoming fashion week (which will be busy as hell), the shoes, the capes and the jewels.

First thing I had to do though was to measure my temperature as clearly there as something seriously wrong with me. Me…wanting to get away from the world that I have created? I mean really. I didn’t want to see another red sole, not another diamond bracelet, didn’t want to drink another glass of bubbles, taste another canapé…nada. So, I got dressed and headed to the airport. (Stylish flying clobber post to follow as I saw so may mistakes on the way. We’re talking flat shoes, hair all messy (and not in a planned way), no make up..UGH! Flying is luxury that we have all gotten very used to).

Short flights to Europe should be attended to with a little effort. Put a heel on, a little lip gloss. I mean, how do you expect to get anywhere in life with no effort? Anyway.

I landed in Helsinki, the capital of Finland (if you don’t know where that is, I would strongly advise you go check before you read any further) and was greeted by a warm summer evening. Unfortunately, there were also a bunch of people that looked like they had been hanging onto the wings of the plane to get to Helsinki from London. It dawned on me. I had landed to the country that fashion forgot.

OMG. I was supposed to get away from fashion, not kill it. Crapbags.

However…Fashion may have forgotten Finland, but design clearly hasn’t. Its fairly odd, having the most fabulous and classic design in the world and then most people dress like hobbits. So, seeing as I can’t write about pretty dresses, here are my picks on how to get some of that very cool Finnish feel to your life.

Your first stop should be for some homeware.

Inject Finnish #1 – Alvar Aalto, Aalto Vase

Iittla is where it is at. Finnish design at its best. You can buy vases, pots, pans, cutlery, candle stick..pretty much everything. If you have never visited their site, please do now, before you continue any further. This vase is as basic as it gets. We all need an Allto (wave) vase in our lives. Pick your own color, there are plenty to pick from.

My absolute favorite is the cobalt blue. Divine. This vase can most likely to be found in about 85% of Finnish home. Most Finns dont even think of it as design, but as something that every one has. Its almost odd to walk into a Finnish household and not see one. Muggles. You use it for tulips (need about 30). Cut them just below the top of the vase, and BAM, you have injected some fabulous design into your home. I know what you are thinking, £90 for a vase, but if you look into the background of Alvar Aalto and all the other designs he gave us, This piece is something else.

Simple, luxurious and looks amazing sitting empty on the self. Great conversation piece and all.

Believe me in this. Trust me. I know my vases.

Your next stop in for some Finnish decorative fabrics.

Inject Finnish #2 – Marimekko Tuuli Bedlinen

Marimekko is the place for fabrics, bedlinen, bags, mugs and everything homeware. Marimekko is a standard of its own. The cotton on this set is soft as kitten fur. The colors don’t fade and the quality is incredible. You must also check out their Unikko range, which has been going for about 100 years. I remember having “Unikko” bedlinen in the blue when I was just a little boy. It still makes me smile when I change the bedlinen on Sundays, every so often I pick the huge blue flowers to cheer up the bedroom. Stunning. You are wondering why I picked “Tuuli” for this post? Well, I think the Unikko range is little bold. Too bold for my lovely fashionistas-in-training.

Start with this black an white, ease yourself in. Before you know, you will be decorating your bedroom with Unikko wallpaper. However, we all need to start off slow, unless of course its working out, then you really need to hit it hard or not at all.

Hmmm, so back to Marimekko. Go buy some. Have a little fun with your interiors. Do it, already. This post isn’t going anywhere. Go spend some money!

Next stop is

Inject Finnish #3 – Hackman Carelia Cutlery

I have been on so many dinner parties where I have really enjoyed the food, but would have rather ate it with my fingers than use any more of IKEA cutlery.

Don’t get me wrong, nothing wrong with IKEA, they make great furniture for the people who cant afford to go to Heals or similar. Flatpack furniture that dont need a diploma in engineering to build. They have really hit a niche in the market and good luck to them. The only issues I have is that they really need to STOP copying Finnish design. Seriously. Most IKEA fabrics are almost too similar to Marimekko designs. When I go to IKEA to buy rye bread, I always think I have walked into some sort of parallel universe where Marimekko looks cheap and feels like sandpaper against your skin. See, even IKEA have caught on to the Finnish ways. I just wish that they would come up with something original. I will most likely die with this wish.

Anyway, IKEA cutlery makes itch and it would be a great time now to invest in some proper knives and forks. Something elegant and luxurious. Something that will make the 6.30am porridge seem a little brighter and less clumpy. Something to give your dinner table that extra ooomph. Nothing special, nothing too fancy, just honest cutlery.

Join the bandwagon and only invite me around if you have something other than IKEA cutlery unless of course you dont mind me eating with my bare hands. Thank you.

I think that should get you all started. Little vase in the living room, little cotton in the bedroom and little shine in the dining room.

Go and indulge. Suosi Suomalaista!

Your Finnish Style Ambassador, Msalonen

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No Comments

  • Reply
    September 3, 2010 at 10:48 am

    I met a guy who had Alvar Aalto as his tutor for his MA – nothing in the world has ever made me more Jealous.

    You know how skint I am ,but I am getting that vase. It is the next best thing to one of his chairs – less than a hundred pounds for a little bit of Design history? Its a bargain – YES PLEASE!!

  • Reply
    September 3, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Ruby! Totally! I have three of them and still not satisfied.
    I want MORE!

  • Reply
    September 5, 2010 at 5:12 am

    I loved this post – huggs

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Awww, kiitos Anna!

  • Reply
    September 6, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    Love this post! I have two Aalto vases – a blue and clear one. The blue one was of course a wedding present from you 🙂

  • Reply
    September 7, 2010 at 8:56 am

    OH YES! I forgot I gave you one! 🙂 x

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