Written by root. Posted in FEATURES


Published on May 02, 2017 with No Comments

On a Helsinki trail to find the Finnish soul.




Helsinki’s Design District is a vibrant hub of creativity in the very heart of the city. Whether by intention or happy accident, when you arrive to the Finnish capital, you are greeted by design at every turn. The Design District spans several downtown neighbourhoods that include Punavuori, Kaartinkaupunki, Kruunuhaka, Kamppi and Ullanlinna, and is a fantastic blueprint for exploring the city.

Helsinki has long been recognised as a city of design. Its legacy as World Design Capital during 2012 can be seen in the many projects it inspired, from the Culture Sauna to the Helsinki University Library. Each September the city is wonderfully transformed during Helsinki Design Week, drawing crowds of design enthusiasts from around the world, but design is celebrated year-round here and is a state of mind.

Pick up a Design District Helsinki map and follow the trail. The well-curated selection of more than 200 boutiques, ateliers, museums, galleries and cafes, as well as internationally recognisable design labels like Marimekko, will make you fall in love with Finnish design if you haven’t already.

A good place to begin is the Design Museum. Its permanent collection provides a concise and comprehensive history of Finnish design that will take you from the trailblazers of the late 19th century to Alvar Aalto – the father of Finnish Modernism – and into the present. Finnish icons Marimekko, Artek and Iittala have all recently moved house but are found in and around the main Esplanade and close to Market Square. These flagship stores showcase the essentials for living a simple, functional and beautiful life, and, like all Finnish design, provide a window into the Finnish soul.

The Design District encompasses some of Helsinki’s prettiest neighbourhoods. Jugend-style buildings line cobblestone streets and are home to many young creatives. The latest trend in open studios also allows you to meet the artists and the locals. Many workrooms function simultaneously as shops, galleries and even cafes so come on in and have a coffee or a mug of hot chocolate while you browse.

Finnish design is made to last. There is a treasure trove of quality antiques if you want to take the time to sift through the flea markets and countless vintage shops within the Design District. Know what to look for and you will be rewarded with timeless pieces.

Go further. Design has no boundaries in Helsinki. Once you have explored the designated Design District, you can move beyond it to discover even more gems. The Kruunuhaka, Eira and Kallio neighbourhoods are worth the trip for classic vintage, with Kallio being home to a more bohemian art and design scene.

Look out for spontaneous events that pop up throughout the year here such as Late Night shopping, Restaurant Day and Cleaning Day. There is always something new and inventive going on!



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