Helsinki Design Week

As soon as I stepped on Finnish soil, I immediately understood the huge role of design, not only in society but also from an environmental and urbanistic point of view.
It’s not a coincidence that nowadays Helsinki is internationally recognized as the capital of Design and every year people from all over the world come to Finland just for the Helsinki Design Week. During this week, you can attend workshops, exhibitions, lectures, Q&A with lecturers, learn a lot about design and everything that revolves around it, from the primitive idea to the concrete and final product. Industrial design, interior design, graphics. Fashion shows, installations throughout the city center, a gathering point for professionals and not: the Helsinki Design Week is even more than “just” this. In 2017, the biggest design festival in the Nordic countries took place from 07.09 to 17.09.

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The official website is this and as you can see, there are plenty of things to do.

If I asked you to associate a name to Finnish design, I’m pretty sure that you’d say Alvar Aalto. This famous Finnish architect reshaped the concept of architecture and design in the XX century and he seems to have a strong influence still today. I started my HDW by visiting the Alvar Aalto Exhibition “Art and the Modern Form” at Ateneum, a branch of the Finnish National Gallery. Here you can learn Aalto’s mindset and approach to modernism in over 50  years, his Gesamtkunstwerk that we now define only “design” but that embraces different sectors such as industrial design, environmentalism, urban functionality, and aesthetic taste.

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Foto 07-09-17, 16 43 07.jpgFoto 07-09-17, 16 58 59.jpgThe concept of design is too wide to be described in a few words, but I’ll try to. In Finland, everything that is on a shelf (or even if it’s not on a shelf) has its own function, a design product must be functional. The company artek, founded by Aalto and his wife, holds this definition in the name itself: artek is art + technology. Take the Pamio chair as an example: it was designed so low to help tuberculosis patients breathe easier. Another example is given by the 3 Leg Stool 60, which -having three legs- allows them to be piled up easily, thus saving space.

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But in Finland, even candies and cosmetics can be design. If you want a piece of Finland, you can visit this website:
Here you will find brands such as Hakola, Avarte, Moiko, MOIMOI, Tingest, Niimar, and many others.

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If you want to know more about design, then the best option would be to attend the exhibitions at Ateneum or to explore the Design district in the heart of Helsinki. If you want to admire Aalto’s buildings in Helsinki, then you can visit The Aalto House (Riihitie 20) and Studio Aalto (Tiilimäki 20). You can buy a combined ticket for the Studio Aalto and the Aalto House for 30€ instead of 36€ (adults). Students and seniors pay 15€ instead of 18€*.
If you want to dedicate an entire day to Aalto, then you should drive from Helsinki to his hometown, Jyväskylä, on the Finnish Lakeland. Here you can visit the museum dedicated to him and the Muuratsalo Experimental House.

Don’t miss the chance in 2018, the Helsinki Design Week is from 6th to 16th of September!

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*Prices may vary. It’s better to buy the Helsinki Card if you’re planning to visit several museums.

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If you want to buy the complete work of Alvar Aalto, check this out on Amazon:

Solo traveling in Helsinki

Helsinki is the capital of Finland, also known as Helsingfors in Swedish. You’re probably wondering why this city has two names, but Finland and Sweden have a lot in common since Finland had been a Swedish region for over 700 years until 1809 when Finland became a Grand Duchy. I happened to travel to Finland in 2017, an important year in Finnish history because the centenary on Finland’s independence is being celebrated this year. Alright, I don’t want to bore you with history, so let’s get lost in Helsinki!


The cathedrals:

The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about Helsinki is the famous cathedral (Helsingin tuomiokirkko) dedicated to St. Nicholas and designed in a Neoclassical style by Carl Ludvig Engel during the first half of the XIX century.


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Something that will take your breath away is the Orthodox Uspenski Cathedral (1868), which witnesses the Russian influence on Finland.
Finland was under the Russian Empire until 1917, that’s why Finns are celebrating this year, but Russian architecture and culture had anyway a huge impact on Suomi.

Finnish Museum of Natural history:

At this point, you might have noticed that I love museums, especially Natural History museums! In this one, you can learn a lot about Finnish nature and there’s also a wing dedicated to the history of our universe, from its creation to today. Here you can find more info about opening hours and entrance fees:


I was in Helsinki during the second week of September and temperatures were hardly above 15°C or below 8°C, so I’d say that autumn arrives quite early in Finland. The weather is quite unpredictable though, so my advice is to bring clothes for all seasons – even in summer. Packing an umbrella is useless, better buy one at Marimekko.


Oh Finnish food, what art thou?
Finnish food has now a special place in my heart, my stomach, and my cupboard. Is it silly or predictable if I say that I loved korvapuusti?


Don’t forget to buy Moomin biscuits and eat salmon soup in the heart of the old market square.

Oh, and don’t miss Mat, a cozy café which serves delicious food. 

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Maybe I should stop talking about food at this point.

But look at this berries… B5A63E78-1238-4E1C-8C5D-FA7E423BF172.jpg


Stay tuned to find out more! There’s so much to say about this country, especially on design, which will have a dedicated blog post.
But don’t miss out on Suomenlinna, the best accommodations in Helsinki and the Helsinki Design Week!