Guide / Helsinki
”Helsinki is the capital of the happiest country in the world, combining great design, art, and culture with beautiful nature”
On innovative libraries and rising names in an inclusive city
3 Jun 2022

Tammi works as the store manager of Artek’s flagship store in Keskuskatu in the heart of Helsinki, offering a selection of carefully picked classics and novelties by Artek, Vitra, and the most important Finnish as well as international design brands. Founded in 1935 by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils-Gustav Hahl, the iconic Finnish design brand wants to improve everyday living by combining art and technology. 

— Alvar Aalto was fascinated by wood and wanted to find out where its limits lay — and the rest is design history, she says. 

For someone who hasn’t been to Helsinki, how’d you describe the city?

— Helsinki is the capital of the happiest country in the world. Situated by the Baltic Sea, it’s a city that combines great design, art and culture with beautiful nature.

My favourite thing that makes me proud of Helsinki: 

— The honesty and authenticity of the city. Helsinki is an inclusive city that welcomes you as you are. It is full of interesting people. You can enjoy the silence in the forests or in the archipelago, but all kinds of social gatherings and great dinner parties are really the essence of the city.

My favourite weekend routine: 

— A morning run by the sea, followed by a stretching session by our apartment’s old fireplace and finalized with a hot bubble bath.

My favourite cultural spot:

— It is my weekly pleasure to visit art galleries like Helsinki Contemporary, Galerie Forsblom, and Galerie Anhava. For design and architecture lovers, a visit to the Aalto House and Studio in Munkkiniemi is a must.

My favourite place for dining out:

— My absolute favourite is Ateljé Finne, a very Finnish restaurant located in the former atelier of the sculptor Gunnar Finne. His reliefs and sculptures combined with whitewashed brick walls, tile floors, and an open fireplace make me wish I could move in. The staff is lovely, the food is local and delicious, and wine recommendations are always spot on. Other recommendations are Yes Yes Yes for vegetarian food and a happy night out, Mat Distrikt for good meat, fish, and wine, Bas Bas for an atmospheric evening with a French twist, and Skiffer in Liuskasaari for a summer night in the archipelago enjoying pizza with a twist.

My favourite breakfast place:

— On a pretty summer morning, Café Birgitta’s sunny terrace works perfectly for a cappuccino enjoyed with the sound of waves.  

My favourite local creative I want to promote:

Juslin Maunula is an interesting fashion designer/architect -duo with a recognisable visual language and just awarded the Finnish Young Designer of the Year 2022.

My favourite hotel for a staycation:

St George’s rooms are individually furnished with hand-picked objects and art. The spa is lovely and there are always familiar faces sipping wine or coffee on the terrace of St. George Bakery.

My favourite route for a run or walk: 

— I love to breathe the fresh sea air and run by the shore passing the beach of Eiranranta, the park of Kaivopuisto, and all the islands in front.  

My favourite excursion:

— Strolling around the bare rocks of Kuninkaansaari is our family favourite for a brisk Sunday. The ferry leaves from Kauppatori. The sea fortress Suomenlinna is another favourite that you shouldn’t miss in Helsinki.

My favourite place for fashion:

Päivi Keski-Pomppu for the most beautiful, minimalistic jewellery. Vuokko for clothing classics that never grow old. éN Hats for felt and straw hats with minimal design and monochromatic colours. Sofia Ilmonen for intelligent, modular garments — she’s a talent to keep an eye on.  

My favourite space for great design: 

Lokal Gallery in my neighbourhood has a great selection of curated artworks and handmade homeware by local artisans. Obviously, I also need to name my second home — the Artek Helsinki store — as our selection is always interesting. Samu-Jussi Koski, one of the most followed Finnish fashion designers, has curated a colourful summer exhibition for Artek Helsinki, opening this week. Also, Artek 2nd Cycle is a design heaven and the brand’s platform for pre-loved Finnish furniture, lighting, carpets, ceramics, and other everyday objects.  

My favourite example of tech innovation in Helsinki: 

— We are a nation of book lovers, and it is wonderful to see our libraries evolve and innovate. Helsinki’s new architectural gem, the recently built Helsinki Central Library Oodi, not only offers books and magazines for loan, but the residents can also use, for instance, 3D printers and laser cutters in the library for free.     

My favourite place for a creative or business meeting:

Savoy — a true classic above the rooftops of the city. The restaurant interior was originally created by Alvar and Aino Aalto in 1937 and recently respectfully refurbished by Ilse Crawford’s talented team.   

My favourite local media:

The Helsinki Design Weekly offers news and dialogue on design and architecture in Helsinki., including a newsletter and social media accounts, sharing tips and hints on current happenings.

My favourite thing at home: 

— I treasure many things in our home, but Milla Vaahtera’s mobile combining hand-blown glass and brass in definitely on the top of my list. I love having objects and art in our home made by creatives I admire and respect.