Guide / Helsinki
”People are looking after each other and are willing to create something meaningful together”
On endless creativity and Finnish teamwork
10 Aug 2021

Sebastian Schauman has more than a decade of experience with private equity, with specific expertise in digital brand building and business development. As the founder and CEO of Finnish design company A.S. Helsingö, he has made sure to balance a digital business identity while creating timeless and personal interiors that honours the tradition of Finnish architectural modernism. The brand also offers affordable prices by using IKEA frameworks when building and designing their products.

My favourite thing that makes me proud of Helsinki: 

The civil society (Kansalaisyhteiskunta) and the high level of engagement concerning social matters. The sense that people are looking after each other and are willing to create something meaningful together on a long-term basis. This is something we Nordic countries have in common and can be proud of, especially in today’s tumultuous political environment.

My favourite weekend routine: 

Waking up as late as possible (my kids decide on when) on Sunday and having breakfast or brunch with the family at Restaurant Penny or Story Kauppahalli. Some tennis at Taivallahti tennis club for my kids and a run for me after that.

My favourite place for ice cream or other refreshments:

Way Bakery & Wine in Kallio has great homemade bread, coffee and also some sweets. Awesome atmosphere.

If you’re really hungry (or even if you’re not), Sandwich Club on Sofiankatu 3 is a great place to grab a NY style sandwich from. The Mock Lox bagel is to die for…

For a healthier option, I would say the city’s best salad is from Green Hippo Café.

My favourite place for a summer bath:

Close to my home at Katajanokka and next to a fleet of docked ice breakers, there’s a wooden carpet-washing pier which is perfect for taking winter baths and swimming in the spring/early autumn. A calm spot close to nature in the very city centre.

Another great place is Löyly, a public sauna, along the coastline in Hernesaari. The building is designed by Avanto Architects, and even though it has become one of Helsinki’s main tourist attractions, it is definitely for locals too.

My favourite cultural spot:

The old Rickhardinkatu library. I’ve always loved the visuals of enormous piles of books, the smell and the quietness.  

My favourite place for dining out:

Baskeri&Basso has been a favourite of mine for many years now. Their ingredient-driven cuisine is daring in its outrageous simplicity. Quite tough to get a table there though as they are not open on Saturdays and Sundays. Someone told me that it’s because the restaurant is owned by its employees, and they don’t like to work the entire week. Understandable.

My favourite place for a creative or business meeting:

Our showroom in Helsinki at Kasarmitori Square. It was designed to feel like a home, not an office or shop. It has large south-facing windows with a lot of natural daylight — a scarcity in Scandinavia.

The A.S. Helsingö showroom in Helsinki.

My favourite breakfast place:

I always find myself at Story Café at Kauppahalli. Great breakfast, great lunch, great wines. Sea views are awesome and the atmosphere is great on warm sunny days, as well as during the rainy and cold season.

My favourite city escape:

The Helsinki archipelago just out of Helsinki city centre has over 300 islands, easily reachable from the city centre by ferry. Helsinki’s Biennial is ongoing this summer at Vallisaari, I haven’t had a chance to visit it yet but have heard that it’s great. Lonna has a great restaurant and Jazz evenings on Sundays.

If you want to stay onshore, I would recommend taking the bus to Kuusisaari and visiting the Didrichsen Art Museum.

My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:

Anna-Kaari Hakkarainen. An accomplished writer, marketing entrepreneur and history buff. A real renaissance individual. She has the most beautiful Instagram feed and I had admired her posts for years before meeting her. Once I met her in person, I came to find that she has an amazing personality and is highly cultivated across all fields.

My favourite hotel for a staycation:

St. George. The hotel has amazing art from private collections, the neighbouring modern art galleries Helsinki Contemporary and Forsblom, and rotating shows of international and local up-and-coming artists. My favourites include statement pieces from Ai Weiwei and Pekka Jylhä, as well as Nordströms older works. It’s one of the few boutique design hotels in Helsinki with a laid back atmosphere, inspiring environment and good food. Their bakery & bar is one of my favourite places for breakfast or lunch. 

My favourite place for fashion:

Sauma and Caine Clothiers have a curated selection of men’s ready-to-wear and shoes, but also do tailoring. I have known the guys there for years and always enjoy chatting with them when visiting. Physical retail is not dying anytime soon if retailers manage to provide a unique experience that simply cannot be replicated online.

My favourite route for a run or walk: 

I prefer to run along the coastline no matter the season. Start at Katajanokka’s Allas and run either to the South past Kauppatori to Kaivopuisto and further to Hietaniemi cemetery, or start the other way towards the North Harbour to Tervasaari, continue to Tokoinranta and from there to Töölönlahti and back. Along the way, you’ll see all the small islands, the Finlandia music hall, the Opera House and many super cosy cafes.  

My favourite example of tech innovation in Helsinki: 

Skipperi is a convenient digital platform for short-term boat rentals. It makes boating easy and available for everyone. They are now expanding to Sweden, Norway and Denmark as well.

My favourite local media:

Helsingin Sanomat and Hufvudstadsbladet.

My favourite space for great design: 

Even though it’s an obvious choice, there is architecturally no space in Helsinki quite as mystical and magical as the Temppeliaukio Church. Temppeliaukio is built into a rock outcrop in the middle of a standard, mostly residential Helsinki neighbourhood. The experience of entering is one of a kind with water cascading from the inner walls of the sanctuary and sunlight flooding the space from above through a mammoth ring of windows.

My favourite thing at home:

Our apartment’s national romantic ornamentations are not very trendy with heavy detailing and shapes, but I love the fact that they’ve been around for 100 years and look a bit worn out. In my opinion, interiors are nowadays a bit too clinical with all the small original details torn out when homes are remodelled.