Finland’s design tradition favours clean lines yet is also wild with colour and prints. Ceramicist Sami Ruotsalainen, senior designer at Marimekko, casts a curatorial eye over the best things to bring home from the capital.
Ceramics by Nathalie L. and Jatta Lavi
From their respective studios, Nathalie Lautenbacher and Jatta Lavi create sophisticated yet hardy porcelain tableware by hand. Lavi tends to work in earthy tones (pictured), while Lautenbacher opts for soft pastels and greys.
Illustrations by Teemu Järvi
Artist Järvi captures the creatures of Finland’s forests and skies in ink on paper and wood. Ruotsalainen likes to buy the illustrations for friends overseas. “They don’t take up much space in your suitcase.”
“Aallonmurtaja” towel by Lapuan Kankurit
Family business Lapuan Kankurit opened its first textile factory a century ago and has a weaving mill in Lapua in the Ostrobothnian fields. As well as its gorgeous range of bed linen, sauna pillows and towels, plus other soft furnishings in linens and organic cottons, the company collaborates with young local designers and supports children’s charities and the Finnish Red Cross.
Samuji homewares and fashion
Samuji founder Samu-Jussi Koski formerly designed for Marimekko. While Ruotsalainen owns many of the label’s pieces, his favourite find from the Helsinki-based design house is the “Cocoon” planter in red clay, which he bought for his home.
Souvenirs from TRE
The Tre store in downtown Helsinki proudly flies the “blue cross” flag for Finnish design with its range of homewares, clothing and assorted child-friendly pieces.
Cashmere knits from Arela
Run by designer Maija Arela and her two daughters, the Finnish knitwear label specialises in elegant minimalist loungewear in a range of colours. These cotton and cashmere basics include some snuggly 100 per cent cashmere “Ulla” socks designed only to sleep in.
Vintage homewares from Kruuna
At Kruuna Finnish Living, a second-hand store on Maurinkatu that specialises in Nordic interior design, you might find pieces by Alvar Aalto and Iittala. “I shouldn’t visit there too often,” says Ruotsalainen, who collects ceramics. “I’m never able to leave empty-handed.” ￼
Handmade in Finland, these organic raw cacao treats incorporate Nordic ingredients such as sea buckthorn and wild blueberries. It’s no surprise the Marimekko designer loves the colourful graphic packaging.