Scandinavian Design in Helsinki, Finland.

By Posted in - Blog & Estonia & Finland on January 26th, 2014 Helsinki, Finland

By Cacinda Maloney

What a whirlwind trip I had to Helsinki, which is also a world away.  I suddenly got transplanted into a winter wonderland from the heat of the desert!

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

One huge selling point of Helsinki, Finland is that fact that it is close to other major cities and so Helsinki is like getting 2 for 1 when it comes to a vacation city!  You can take the Eckero ferry to Tallinn, Estonia for a day trip (or a few days).  Apparently this is very common amongst the Fins, as the prices are so much better in Estonia.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

I loved Tallinn so much, that it will get its very own romantic style post about what a great city it is.  You can also get over to Stockholm quite easy as well.  As a traveler, I love this concept, as two cities close in proximity make for a great week long vacation.  As I think 3 days in any city is usually long enough for a vacation, since you enjoy the highlights and also spend about the right dollar amount for the entire vacation.  This is a “value luxury ” concept that I have been doing for years and it works for me.

Tallinn, Estonia

Tallinn, Estonia

Upon my arrival into Helsinki, I went straight to the Scandic Paasi Hotel, where, I have to say, I was impressed with the hotel brand and specifically this hotel. It is a very comfortable hotel with a social edge, which made it great, since I was going to be here with a group of international travel writers/bloggers and photographers.

Scandic Paasi Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Scandic Paasi Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

The rooms start at 79 euros and average is 100 euros per night, which is a bargain, as this is a Scandinavian country and they are known worldwide to be expensive!  So this was a pleasant surprise or “a breath of fresh cold air”!

Scandic Paasi Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Scandic Paasi Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Scandic Paasi Hotel has a central location next to the sea in the Siltasaari neighborhood, and is good walking distance to the tram, which I rode quite often.  The hotel also has great accessibility for the handicapped, which is well known throughout the entire chain of hotels.

Scandic Paasi Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Scandic Paasi Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Check them out, the next time you are in Europe and in need of a hipster, cool place to stay.  To me, they seem akin to the Aloft or W brand of SPG properties, which I am more accustomed to staying in.  They do have a loyalty program, which I did not get a chance to check out, but I will join when I get a chance.

Scandic Paasi Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

Scandic Paasi Hotel, Helsinki, Finland

One thing I immediately noticed upon arrival in Helsinki was how Scandinavian design has spread throughout the city with a lot of design workshops and galleries.  In 2012, it was featured as the World Design Capital by the ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design). All the small cafes and restaurants are of a minimalist design, which tend to be hip, trendy, and cozy places.  They also have very hipster-like museums of contemporary art located in unique and curved buildings. I had a chance to visit several design houses, such as Iittala, which is probably the most well known glass and ceramic Finnish brand. In fact, while there, they mentioned that probably every Fin has one of their pieces or receives one of their pieces for graduation, weddings, birthdays, etc.

Iittalia, Helsinki, Finland

Iittalia, Helsinki, Finland

They also have the Fiskars brand, which you probably didn’t even know was Finnish, but it is the famous orange handled scissors.  I have several pairs at my office and in my home.

Fiskar, Helsinki, Finland

Fiskar, Helsinki, Finland

As far as designers, Marimekko is also very popular.  It is particularly noted for brightly colored, printed fabrics and simple styles, used both in women’s garments and in-home furnishings.

Helsinki, Finland

MariMekko, Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

MariMekko, Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

I was surprised that even I knew the brand, since I am more into Old World design than contemporary design.  Funny thing is, when I was younger, I purchased a set of dishes with glasses that were from this very company.  All along, I thought they were from a Japanese designer.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

One of the lifestyle bloggers who is Finnish, Katjia, told me that nothing could be more Finnish that this brand!  I had no idea. I still have the dishes after all these years and now this year, Marimekko is celebrating their 50th anniversary.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

Another stop I made along the way was to the Design District Society of Helsinki, which is a gallery where they showcase the up and coming designers.  You can go to their showroom to purchase products, plus they have a map which shows you where a lot of the designers are in the neighborhood, where you can walk around and visit their stores as well.

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

I also took a tour to El Kallio district, which is known as the Red Light District in Helsinki to a place called “Made in Kallio”, it looks like a café, but tucked in behind it, in the connecting rooms they have a filmmaker, a photographer, a shoe maker, a carpenter, a smoothie maker, designers, etc.  It is a place where these artsy and creative people can set up their shop and utilize each others resources and have their ideas spark off of each other.  It is owned by a hipster couple, where he was a Hollywood film maker, and native Fin, who decided to come back to Helsinki to help refurbish the neighborhood, and yet give artists a place to gather and do their work, without having to worry so much about the overhead.

Helsinki, Finland

Kokal Helsinki, Finland

One cute little shop we came across on Annankatu Street was called Lokal, which was basically like a cross between an artist gallery and a quick coffee shop.

Helsinki, Finland

Kokal, Helsinki, Finland

The window states “72% art, 28% coffee”! The owner is a photographer Katja Hagelstam, who runs the gallery by herself and has created a cozy place where you can enjoy art, coffee, and cake. The cake, made by her, changes on a daily basis and she makes the coffee in an open kitchen in front of the customers while she talks about the gallery and the artists whom she features there.  It is a very nouveau concept to showcase art with food and drink.

Helsinki, Finland

Kokal, Helsinki, Finland

I also had a chance to dine at a fabulous renovated restaurant that was once an old bank.  They are doing such a great job at renovations and creating wonderful neighborhoods in areas that were once upscale and had gone down or were abandoned.  This particular restaurant, Salutorget, has a spectacular interior stained glass window with the bathroom being the banks vault!

Helsinki, Finland

Helsinki, Finland

While here, I had the opportunity to try one of the most traditional food items in Finland, which is the Blini, which is a small pancake made of buckwheat flour.  This one was served with the traditional condiments and choice of: Whitefish roe (fish eggs), onion and sour cream Vendace roe (fish eggs), onion and sour cream Skagen (shrimp) tartar Smoked reindeer mousse and karpalocoulista Horseradish Mushroom Salad When I was there, I had no idea what I was eating, but had to later go home and look it up, so that I could appreciate each bite!

Radisson Blu Seaside, Helsinki, Finland

Radisson Blu Seaside, Helsinki, Finland

While in Helsinki, I also had a chance to stay and visit two other hotel brands that I have grown very fond of: Radisson Blu!  I stayed at the Radisson Blu Seaside and had dinner and toured the Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel. You may recall that I am fond of their Club Carlson loyalty program and am hoping they will run another great promotion this year.  I cannot say enough about how great his brand is and how good their promos are.

So overall, I had an enjoyable, quick trip to Finland and Estonia!

Disclosure:  My trip to Finland and Estonia was in conjunction with #nbeFinland (Nordic Blogger Experience), as I was an official international blogger for this group.  It was sponsored by VisitFinland, VisitHelsinki and VisitEstonia.  This in no way interferes with the fact that I had a great time in these wonderful countries.

 

(26) awesome folk have had something to say...

  • frankaboutcroatia -

    January 26, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    What a great trip they have organized for you and other bloggers! I found out many things about Finland that I haven’t known before reading your post. Marimekko is Finish?! Next time I am in Helsinki, I’ll make sure to have a coffee and a cake at Lokal.

    • admin -

      January 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Yes, me too, I found out a lot about Finland that I didn’t know as well. Marimekko is Finnish, check. And Lokal is a great stop along the map of Finnish Designs!

  • Bex -

    January 26, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Ohhh! I have to say I am such a fan of colour and this is gorgeous! Who would’ve thought such colour existed in the cold, Scandinavian north!
    Thanks for sharing.

    • admin -

      January 26, 2014 at 1:57 pm

      Yes, I guess one would have thought it was only black, white or gray!

  • Karisa -

    January 26, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    I LOVE Estonia’s old world charm so much! I’d love to travel to Finland some day, however, like you said, Scandinavia has a reputation for being a bit pricey! 🙂

    • admin -

      January 26, 2014 at 5:47 pm

      Estonia is a bit cheaper, but Finland is definitely worthy of a visit, especially since I located the Scandic Paasi Hotel, it is really perfect in many ways!

  • kami -

    January 26, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    I used to live in Finland for 5 months as an exchange student (in a small town 150kms north of Helsinki) and I just couldn’t get enough of their awesome designs everywhere around, Marimekko and Alvar Aalto’s architecture being on top of it. This post was a great reminder why I liked it there so much 🙂

    • admin -

      January 27, 2014 at 12:56 am

      Awesome! Well you know Finland much better than I do! I had a whirlwind trip, but loved it!

  • Jenna@webjet -

    January 27, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Sounds like you had an amazing trip! The hotels looks amazing inside, we would love to take a trip right now and see it! Thanks so much for sharing your experience 🙂

    • admin -

      January 27, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Jenna, when are you going to take one of these trips with me?? It was fabulous!

  • noelmorata -

    January 27, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Very cool Cacinda, they are so design savy there!

    • admin -

      January 28, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      Very savy with design!

  • Marysia @ My Travel Affairs -

    January 27, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    Scandinavia is a great spot for all design lovers! Finland is on my list and getting higher and higher!

    • admin -

      January 27, 2014 at 1:35 pm

      Yes, it is a great city for design!

  • Muza-chan -

    January 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    Beautiful…

    • admin -

      January 28, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Yes, Finland is beautiful!

  • Lance | Trips By Lance -

    January 28, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    My interior design writer wife would love this trip. Great images. This is going on my Pinterest for future trips in Europe.

    • admin -

      January 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      Awesome! She would love the design scene and there is so much more that I didn’t get a chance to visit!

  • Gabor Kovacs -

    February 1, 2014 at 10:35 am

    I was in Helsinki a few years ago, the warm colors of the photos in your post remind me some really good memories from there. Great post!

    • admin -

      February 1, 2014 at 11:47 am

      I think I was only warm once, but loved it!

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  • Sanna Vegancruiser -

    November 27, 2016 at 5:31 am

    Beautiful photos and lots of lovely Finnish Design, made me homesick there! 🙂

    Helsinki is fabulous during the winter, looks so idyllic but it should be experienced in the summer too – especially teaming it with a Silja or Viking Line overnight cruise to Stockholm (very affordable) for a day of shopping. The best bit is sailing into Stockholm weaving through the gorgeous archipelago.

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