Guide / Tampere
”You won’t find many Tampere-born people that are pretentious, dishonest or unfriendly”
On humility in Finlands hottest city.
28 Oct 2021

The innovative Finnish sustainable textile material company Spinnova was originally founded in 2014, but it was not until 2017 that Emmi Berlin became head of communications and investor relations officer there. Spinnova is based in Jyväskylä and Helsinki, but tucked away in the middle of these two cities lies Tampere — where Emmi was born and raised. Having lived in Helsinki and in Jyväskylä for over 20 years, and also abroad, Emmi is now back to her hometown where she works remotely.

— This is the most meaningful job I have ever had, although I have spent the last decade as a communicator for solutions to the world’s biggest problems, such as wind power. Spinnova is definitely a solution to the textile industry’s environmental problems, and we’re working hard to scale the innovation up to big volumes for us all to enjoy, and to make the positive environmental impact it was created for.

Spinnova has worked together with many fashion brands and organisations like Marimekko,
pictured above.

My favourite thing that makes me proud of Tampere:

I would describe Tampere in two words — big and small. Tampere is a historically industrial town that was born around the hydropower that runs through the centrum; roaring rapids between two big lakes. These days, Tampere is the most popular city to move to in Finland. It’s both big and small at the same time, with a mixture of treasured old buildings and new skyrises. The people are also a mixture of old and new; there are a lot of young people thanks to the universities there, and you can also catch many senior citizens still living as they have always done — sitting around the marketplaces talking politics. There is also both great urban culture and beautiful nature around the city.

My Tampere roots go back to the 18th century so the place is very dear to me. Having lived abroad, in Helsinki and in Jyväskylä for over 20 years, I find the people in Tampere the most relaxed, friendly, honest and hospitable people in the world. I consider myself like that, and it’s that spirit I’m proud of. You won’t find many Tampere-born people that are pretentious, dishonest or unfriendly.

My favourite weekend routine:

I never get tired of the centrum. On a beautiful day, I would take public transport to the centrum and wander around, perhaps pop to see a museum or just marvel the city, have a great lunch and buy the evening’s groceries from the old market hall — as a mum I drive to enough supermarkets during the week!

Photography: Visit Tampere / Laura Vanzo.

My favourite cultural spot:

Tampere is a theatre and rock town, and I do love a good play or a gig at a club, but my favourite cultural spot must be the Tampere Hall, where the Tampere Philharmonics play. That brings back happy childhood memories. My grandmother was a music teacher, and my relatives played in the philharmonics, so we were often in concerts and backstage with the orchestra; it was such an exciting lifestyle from a child’s perspective. Even more exciting to see an opera or a ballet performance there! I’ve loved classical music and opera ever since.

My favourite place for a creative or business meeting:

I would go and walk around one of the highest natural ridges in Scandinavia; the Pyynikki area. The Pyynikki ridge is the highest esker in the world, rising 85 meters above the level of the nearby lake. Beautiful sceneries and viewing spots to sit down and let your mind or discussion wander! There’s also an old observation tower on the top, with a café that has the best fresh, crispy sugared doughnuts.

My favourite breakfast place:

Home of course, but I do love a good brunch, which there are many of these days. Pella’s Café and Pyymäen OMA are good examples, and if you’re up for an unusual treat, Café Pispala has a pancake breakfast like nowhere — better be hungry when going there!

My favourite city escape:

In the summer season, take the boat and head off towards the countryside, or stop at one of the great self-service saunas the boat clubs have. In the winter, we can skate, ski or walk on the same lake. There is a small Siilinkari lighthouse where there is usually a tent café; very popular! Especially during pandemic times, there were always huge amounts of people on the ice. There is also the Rauhaniemi “citizens’ spa”, a public sauna with ice swimming in the winter, but although I know that’s great for one’s health, I have only tried it once. Frrreeezing!

My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:

I’m big on circularity of textiles, not just because of my job, but have changed my consuming ways a lot in the years I’ve been with Spinnova. Tampere, like many other Finnish towns, has seen a number of new second-hand stores in the past few years, both high-end and more affordable pre-loved clothes. Some good ones include LumindoLife, Helga-Neiti and Oldie. An online second-hand marketplace called Rekki is also a Tampere-based growth company, which I’m quite proud of. I think we’re only seeing the beginning of circular business models and the pre-loved market is now the fastest-growing sector of fashion, and not just in Finland.

My favourite route for a run or walk:

Anywhere walking up and down the paths and stairs of the Pyynikki ridge, all the way to Pispala and Tahmela, old, prestigious neighbourhoods alongside the ridge, between the two lakes surrounding Tampere.

My favourite place for dining out:

This is a tough one! Tampere’s restaurant scene is great, and even some of the old classics from the 1980s are still around. I think one of the best places we’ve seen lately are Bertha and Restaurant C. And for a great old classics, I would go for Tiiliholvi (brick vault in Finnish).

Restaurang C.

My favourite place for fashion:

I try to maintain a low impact lifestyle these days, so I don’t really follow fashion very much. If I want something new, I always look for it second hand first. For this fall, I just bought two pre-loved Marimekko dresses, and a pre-loved merino wool dress by Sand.

My favourite space for great design:

As you can probably see from my previous answers, I am a nostalgia fan and also find old architecture more attractive than new. As Helsinki, Tampere also has many beautiful jugend-style houses and hidden gems all over the centrum. I live in a house built in the 1950’s and the minimal, practical design has been maintained there well, although of course needed repairs and updates have been made on it. You just don’t get the same atmosphere in new houses!

My favourite hotel for a staycation:

I have actually never been there but I hear that ByPias Finca Suites is a lovely oasis by the lake near the centrum, with Mediterranean boho style rooms and a lovely garden within a 19th century stone villa. I would love to stay there sometime! The historic hotel Tammer is also very beautiful and more central than ByPias.

My favourite example of tech innovation in Tampere:

Tampere has a technical university so a number of e.g. IT innovations have come from Tampere. Something that comes to mind just based on their genuine marketing tone is Wirepas who has invented the world’s first and only non-cellular 5G network. In their Straight outta Tampere video marketing series, the spokesperson is supposedly one of the founders’ grandmother, I love it! I really appreciate companies that manage to create a brand that truly matches their values and portrays the culture. Confident marketers can subtly add a bit of humour into things. Wirepas and Spinnova were just both listed as “Soonicorns” – soon to be unicorns – in their respective businesses by the venture capital community Tracxn. This means we have created something so unique that it has the opportunity to become a global market leader with billions of euros of market cap.

My favourite thing at home:

That would have to be our dinner table that’s about a 50-year-old round marble table and the “tulip” Tulppaani chairs designed by Eero Saarinen in 1955. This must have been absolutely futuristic design in those times! We love food and entertaining so the table and chairs are a centrepiece of our home.

My favourite hidden gem:

If you want to marvel Tampere from high up, the old observation tower in Pyynikki is not the best choice as you may have to queue and there is no café up in the tower. The Moro Sky Bar at Hotel Torni is a good choice, and so is café Katto at Finlayson, which have a lovely lunch with an excellent price-quality ratio. They also arrange rooftop walks, but I think this only applies in the summer.