Scandinavian design can be found around the world today. The name Ikea is one of the most famous brands in the world, ranking ahead of Pepsi, Ford, or Bank of America in the international brand rankings. The owner family, by the way, contrary to rumors, still lives in our country. But if you google "scandinavian design switzerland" you get about 63,300 hits. At the top of the list is nothing from Billy shelves or Ingvar Kamprad, but the name "Helsinki Design". Reason for the art and design editor of barfi.ch to get on the track of this online store.
A small survey in the editorial office showed that when asked what is associated with Scandinavian design, the most common words were "simple, cool, plain, not overloaded, clear lines and shapes, wood, colors, but also, boutique Danoise, Panton chair, architecture, expensive kitchen accessories from Stockholm, angular design, country house style, then of course Ikea and finally knitted woolen sweaters with snowflake pattern. Interesting: the name Finland came up again and again, although this republic does not belong to Scandinavia under international law, but is firmly associated with it not only in the world of culture.
A Finn in our Alpine republic
The research for Helsinki design did not lead north, but to Switzerland to the Finnish Johanna Talka. Since 2013, she runs in the Internet store, which in this short time made it from an insider tip to a well-known address. "We Finns are so proud of our great furniture design, to which I count not only design classics, such as by Alvar Aalto, but also new design from manufacturers, such as Nikari," says the young, beaming entrepreneur when asked by barfi.ch. In Switzerland, the objects of Nikari would be seen only rarely. The idea for the store came to her because she missed the beautiful furniture from her home country and wanted to give the Swiss a feeling for Scandinavian living with its warmth and simplicity.
Lapuan Kakurit wool blankets
"Setting up the store was not difficult, because I had a clear picture of what I wanted it to look like and good partners in Switzerland and Finland who implemented my ideas," says Johanna Talka. It was new, slippery terrain for the Finn, but since she knew slippery surfaces from the icy north and loves a challenge, she learned quickly. It took half a year to set up the store. She had already established the concept and necessary contacts beforehand. But the seemingly finished concept was only the beginning: "A company like this has to evolve continuously and thus remains a constantly challenging ongoing task.
Thanks to the support of a bank, the set-up phase could be financed. The operation and never-ending expansion of the store and its warehouse Johanna Talka was then already able to earn from their own work. In the past two years, an additional showroom was added, as well as a pop-up store. "For the upcoming new year, I have resolved to find another place to present the design furniture", says Johanna Talka and continues "You can imagine that this is difficult".
The friendly Northerner has long sold not only Finnish products, but also those from the "real" Scandinavia, mainly Sweden and Denmark. The assortment consists of Nordic classics and young "wild" Scandinavian designers. Between products with collector’s value for collectors – and that is extremely important to her – to affordable modern products from young designers that everyone can afford, the range is very wide. To ensure that customers receive furniture once ordered as quickly as possible, it is stored in Switzerland.
Finnish design is no different from Nordic or Scandinavian design. No matter where it comes from: minimalism and functionality are the defining characteristics. Whereas Finnish furniture is traditionally still a bit simpler in design. It is therefore not surprising that the Japanese are among the biggest fans of Finnish interior design. Among the most famous objects of modern Nordic design is the Paimio armchair from 1931 by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.
Paimio armchair by Finnish designer and architect Alvar Aalto
How do you celebrate Christmas in Finland??
When asked how Christmas is celebrated in Finland, Johanna Talka answers like this: "We also celebrate on 24. December as in Basel and other Swiss cities with a cozy family celebration. The highlight of Christmas Eve is the visit of Santa Claus, who is called "Joulupukki" in Finnish and brings the gifts". Traditionally, a Finnish Christmas roast, a kind of Christmas ham belongs on the table. Recently, however, turkey or fish have increasingly been served. In addition the round serves different casseroles from potatoes, rice, carrots and beetroots, naturally may not be missing Graved salmon and herring salad.
Asked what she misses about Switzerland, Johanna Talka says: "Family, fresh berries and certain mushrooms straight from the forest, and of course the sauna, preferably right next to fresh water to cool off in.". And if the homesickness should become too strong again: in Riehen there is a Finnish track known far beyond the region.