Best in Class: Happiness is all things Finnish
What is it about Scandi design that helps elicit such feelings of contentment?
Joanna Laajisto: Natural, bare woods and forest shades inform this kitchen at creative agency Fjord.
Finnish design marries Danish hygge or cosy with a sense of simplicity that belies a highly thought-out functionality that delivers furniture, lighting and architecture that feels like it’s been in situ for an age. While Alvar Aalto, the godfather of Finnish modernism, and Finn-born, US-educated Eero Saarinen are some of the country’s best-known architects, Joanna Laajisto is the contemporary name to know. Also US educated she has an ability to marry colour, texture and form that shows a rounded internationalism and that she is more than capable of filling their big shoes. Her belief is “not to clutter the world with unnecessary things but to find the hidden beauty in each space and to enhance it by creative solutions”. Natural, bare woods and forest shades inform this kitchen at creative agency Fjord, which includes a galley kitchen running down one side, a supersized dining table where there is room for both prep work and homework. She also launched a new furniture collection for Made By Choice at the recent Stockholm Design Week which will be available to buy from next month.
When looking for inspiration regarding the land of a thousand lakes, as the most easterly nation in Scandinavia is also called, the Finnish Design Shop should be your number one port of call. It sells furniture, lighting and accessories as well as new designs by the aforementioned Laajisto.
Pictured is the Karuselli, a recliner and footstool by one of Finland’s golden era of design, mid century modernist Yrjo Kukkapuro whose functionalism came with a sense of fun. He first made the Karuselli in fibreglass in 1950 but it finally went into production with Finnish firm Artek and debuted at the Cologne Fair in 1965. It costs €6,579 in tan, white or black leather and the matching footstool costs €2,434.
The In Between SK1 chair perfectly illustrates how Finnish design is also considered part of the so-called Scandinavian chic umbrella, which covers Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The slender seat was crafted by Sami Kallio, a Finn, for &Tradition, a Danish company, and comes in a variety of solid wood colours with the option of an upholstered seat. It is considered a contemporary classic by some design heads and costs about €420 from UK dealer Nest and is also available through Minima, Dublin.
Lempi is a simple yet smart solid ash and rattan bed head from Matri, a Finnish bed brand. It comes in two sizes; 150cm, which costs €750, and 170cm, which costs €775. Both are 65cm wide and prices are ex delivery.
Secto simple birch lighting will be familiar to architects and interior designers. Hand-made using native woods the company was set up by Finnish architect Seppo Koho in the early 1990s and makes use of the spliced shade shape to create cool shadowplay within its own structure.
This wall light pictured comes in a couple of different sizes. Prices start from about 430 from Dublin-based Hicken Lighting.
Adea furniture is a Finnish fabricator that is exclusive to Blackrock-based Nordic Elements. It does spacious seating that looks light as air in a room and comes in clean neutrals and covetable earthy colours.
Choose from an elegant Bon day bed that incorporates both tan leather and fabric, from €2,130, butter-soft tan leather Bonnet chairs, €1,725, that also comes in a fabric option, from €1,320, or an elegantly formed Bon sofa, pictured is a three-seat size, from €3,565.
This Mr Jones armchair has gorgeous clean curves and costs from €2,505.
Iittala glass and ceramics are designed with everyday use in mind. This new range of Graphics mugs features colourful illustrations by Merijn Hos, Netherlands; Christopher DeLorenzo, US; Magnus Voll Mathiassen, Norway; and Ugo Gattoni, France. They each cost €21.90, ex delivery from Iittala.
These polymer felt baskets by Finnish designer Mika Tolveanen for Danish company Muuto will work as desk tidies, magazine and newspaper repositories and even fuel baskets. They come in three colours and three sizes; desk tray, 12.2cm by 15cm by 12 cm, €69; magazine basket, 35cm by 48cm by 23cm, €79; and a round basket perfect for logs, 51cm by 23cm, €99, at Ely Place-based design shop, Inreda.