GUIDE / HELSINKI

”I am proud of the safeness in the city, the beautiful coastline, and the great food scene.”

NICLAS AHLSTRÖM
On manoeuvring a Nordic design Mecca
March 05, 2021

Niclas is the co-founder of Made by Choice, a Finnish design house, and owner of various design and technology-related companies in Finland and abroad. He founded the company in 2015 together with Sebastian Jansson and Lasse Laine to create bespoke furniture, which eventually led to collaborations with Matthew Day Jackson, Thomas Sandell, Matti Klenell, Harri Koskinen, and Shane Schneck, to name a few.

My favourite thing that makes me proud of Helsinki:
The amazing architecture and design. Buildings like the Helsinki Cathedral, Temppeliaukio church, Central Station, Suomenlinna/Sveaborg sea fortress, Oodi Library, Aalto’s home, and Kiasma among others. Other things I am proud of are the safeness in the city, the beautiful coastline, and the great food scene.

My favourite weekend routine:
Go out for a jog or walk, hit the gym, visit one of the public saunas in Helsinki like Löyly, Lonna Sauna, or Kulttuurisauna, go swimming, and reading books. Lately, I’ve been reading a book on New York’s history called ”City of Dreams” by Tyler Anbinder.

Kulttuurisauna. Photography: Maarit Kytöharju



My favourite cultural spot:
I like the art galleries like Forsblom, Anhava, and Helsinki Contemporary. Great museums are Kiasma, Amos Rex, HAM, the Design Museum, and Ateneum. These galleries feature amazing art by Finnish artists like Karoliina Hellberg, Kim Simonsson, Riiko Sakkinen, and others.

My favourite place for dining out:
Savoy. Made by Choice took part in the renovation, but it is originally designed by Finland’s most famous architect Alvar Aalto. It’s a city landmark and the most famous restaurant in town with amazing views of the city. But also BasBas, OLO, Palace, Grön, and Vinkkeli.


My favourite place for a creative or business meeting:
Winter Garden at St George. Otherwise Noormarkku/Norrmark (my family home) for strategy weekends, around 3 hours from Helsinki.

My favourite breakfast place:
St George. They have a great hotel breakfast. Kuuma also has a great breakfast and you can browse the Finnish design/fashion shops after breakfast as it is located in the garden in Kämp Galleria.

My favourite city escape:
Noormarkku (my family home), Fiskars, and Porvoo (Borgå). All of these places have amazing architecture dating back to the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s.

My favourite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:
My mother-in-law Kirsi Kaukonen’s company Niki Newd. They make fresh skincare.

My favourite hotel for a staycation:
St George. I love their spa and the hotel has amazing design and art by Ai Weiwei, Klaus Haapaniemi, Nikari, Kuutti Lavonen, and many more.


My favourite route for a run or walk:
Start at Bulevardi, proceed to Hietalahden ranta, and then around Töölönlahti and Tokoiranta. This route passes parks and the sea. Another route is around Kaivopuisto park. The view of the sea is breathtaking. You can see the Suomenlinna/Sveaborg sea fortress while running.

My favourite place for fashion:
Caine Clothiers and Sauma for classic menswear. Beamhill for streetwear. Garden at Kämp Galleria for Finnish fashion.

My favourite space for great design:
Lokal, Iittala, Marimekko, Artek, Formverk, Garden in Kämp Galleria, and of course the Made by Choice store in Kämp Galleria.

Glass sculptures by Alvaro Aalto

My favourite example of tech innovation in Helsinki:
Spinnova is a great company. Sustainable fibres for the fashion industry. They are now working with H&M and Marimekko.

My favourite local media:
Helsingin Sanomat (for daily news) and Asun (design magazine).

My favourite thing at home:
My family. Otherwise my Kalos armchair by Maxalto which I enjoy reading in, and my paintings and design collection.

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