Guide / Helsinki
”Helsinki is like a small island village where you can surprisingly find everything, in human-size doses”
On natural tranquillity and rare second-hand stores
7 Nov 2022

Who are you?

— I’m a second-generation entrepreneur and CEO of Finarte, a Finnish design brand creating avant-garde design rugs and home textiles. I’ve grown up amidst rugs and design but my background in economics and living in India has heavily influenced my worldview next to design. After living in different cities around the world, I’m happy to call Helsinki home — it’s so livable for a capital city! Our family business Finarte has also found a lovely home, a concept store in the centre of the city where we get to be creative and playful — just like our brand.

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

— Helsinki is like a small island village where you can surprisingly find everything, in human-size doses. It sits by the sea — which I love! — and is small enough to get through but big enough that there are always new places, restaurants, and cultures to explore. 

My favourite thing that makes me proud of Helsinki: 

— It’s such an easy city — safe, clean, compactly sized, and not crowded, hardly any traffic, and the public transport is great. Also, clean air is something to love in the capital city!

My favourite weekend routine: 

— After a gentle run and taking it easy in the morning, I love to meet up with friends and take a stroll through second-hand stores. If the day doesn’t end with dinner and drinks, I might see a dance piece, theatre, or such on short notice. ’Extempore art’ is always a good idea!

My favourite cultural spot:

— I’m a big fan of classical music, fine, and performing arts, like ballet and opera. I love to go to the opera house to unwind by myself. The Finnish National Opera has some interesting new and old productions, like Kaija Saariaho’s pieces as well as very classic ones. Whenever I travel, I usually visit the local Opera house.

My favourite breakfast place:

Meli Café and Bakery in the district of Kallio is a laid-back café that offers freshly baked goods and breakfast at very reasonable prices. Their terrace on Helsinginkatu during the summer gives a different vibe of Helsinki than the city centre spots.

My favourite place for a creative or business meeting:

— The rather-new St George hotel has a beautiful lounge area called Wintergarden. The interior décor of that place is inspiring yet calming enough to have great conversations. One can also find nice nooks and more private spots there.

St George’s Wintergarden.

My favourite excursion or city escape:

— I come from a smaller town on the coast to the east called Kotka that has award-winning parks, a sea museum, river rafting, and of course the beloved sea. In fact, it’s built on different islands and partly mainland that has been adjacent through bridges. The archipelago and Gulf of Finland National Park are also worth seeing with their raw tranquillity. It’s also where our family summer house lies — a must-go place for me during the summer season. Nothing gives you a sense of freedom more than driving a boat alone at the sea.

My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:

— Ceramic artist Marianne Huotari, who has also designed for Finarte, makes very unique ceramic wall hangings at the Arabia Art Department. The department is Finland’s most renowned place for ceramic art where Marianne’s art can also be seen as well as in the lobby of the recently opened Scandic Helsinki Hub and in many international galleries.

My favourite hotel for a staycation:

— I appreciate a swimming pool in a staycation hotel and since there are not that many hotels in Helsinki that have one, I often head to St George for luxury or Clarion for the views. The swimming pool of Clarion is on the top floor which gives great views of Helsinki downtown. There are many new hotels in the city centre like the stylishly refurbished Torni that I’m looking forward to trying out.

My favourite route for a run or walk: 

— A seaside run or walk from Hietaniemi beach (the main beach in Helsinki), circling around Lapinlahti and continuing towards the south Eiranranta and Kaivopuisto area. The route continues all the way to Esplanadi where, depending on energy levels, it’s easy to head home to Kamppi or continue toward Katajanokka also can be nicely circled. There are really beautiful and well-kept routes along the coast from east to west in Helsinki, stretching a bunch of kilometres. 

My favourite place for dining out:

— There are so many so good new restaurants in Helsinki that I love to try out — the budget for eating out is really stretching it! — and I rarely visit a restaurant many times in a row. However, Nolla is a place that I’d happily go to again and again. They serve beautiful food in a relaxed atmosphere, whilst everything is made with local ingredients and with zero-waste principles.

My favourite place for fashion:

— There are numerous second-hand stores in Helsinki and strolling down Fredrikinkatu is perfect to get a nice combination of both real vintage and newer second-hand finds. 

My favourite hidden gem:

— When entering the public library on Rikhardinkatu, it feels like time has stood still. The library is from 1882 and is the first building in the Nordics designed for this purpose. It’s right in the city centre but is never busy, hence one can easily find a secret spot for quiet reading on one of the building’s many floors. It also has an art rental spot.

My favourite example of tech innovation in Helsinki: 

— Finnish food delivery app Wolt is such a lifesaver when there’s limited time to cook for yourself — or if you want to get a nice lunch for the team.

My favourite local media:

— The small, free neighbourhood newspapers are so lovable — they tell stories behind regular and striking people and businesses. Also great for drooling over new apartments.

My favourite thing at home: 

— Besides a beloved Buddha statue I bought in my carry-on from India in 2007, I love the airiness of my home. It’s a great spot to zone out with a cup of coffee by the window and watch the city and its people live and move at their own pace.