Scandinavian design in Helsinki: Design district, shopping destinations and a culinary stop

If you think Scandinavia is the home of design, you’re not mistaken. But if you think Finland has a marginal role, well, this time you’re wrong!

Finland not only gave birth to Alvar Aalto but it is also the real home of design: it is not only Artek, the Finnish design company founded in 1935 by Alvar and Aino Aalto, it’s Iittala, Marimekko, Arabia, Aarikka, Jopo… Design comes in daily and you will easily find Iittala glasses in bars and restaurants, as well as napkins and paper glasses of Marimekko offered in Finnair flights. In the end, the sense of design is just that, in everyday life! 

A curiosity: Did you know that Helsinki was declared the capital of design in 2012?!

A walk in Design District in Helsinki

If you want to visit the Design District you can start your walk from the most central place in Helsinki, the Kauppatori, the market Square that teems with life (and where you can find delicious street food and local berries).
Crossing the Esplanadi, a beautiful long garden, you’ll already find some of the iconic brands of Finnish design: Iittala, Marimekko, Aarikka, Arabia, Balmuir, Minna Parikka.

To find out more about Finnish design brands, you can head to Uudenmaankatu where you’ll find various galleries and designer furniture stores. Just follow the black&white stickers that identify design shops, in a neighbourhood with more than 200 trendy boutiques, galleries and cafes. Helsinki’s Design District spans 25 avenues that give design enthusiasts a veritable haven of fashion, furniture, antiques, housewares, and avant-garde pieces. While strolling, throw an eye at the buildings in this neighbourhood, many of which belong to the Finnish modernist style.

A stopover in the beautiful Kolmikulma square and then you can head to the most interesting (and the only) department store in Helsinki: Stockmann (at Aleksanterinkatu 52). The store closes a little later than other shops in the area, so you’ll have some extra time for shopping. Don’t miss the fifth floor dedicated to home decor and the sixth floor in which you can find some of our beloved brands in kids fashion, independent and Scandinavian: from Molo to Mini Rodini, from the Finnish Pappu to Gguggu. There are also many international brands like Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger.

For dinner in the Design District: Ravintola Ragu

If you want an address to dine, a real cuddle after a day of shopping and design I can recommend Ravintola (restaurant in Finnish) Ragu, which combines Scandinavian flavors with Mediterranean style (located in Ludviginkatu 3-5).

Ragu: It derives from the verb ragoûter which means to restore the appetite or generally to add interest. 

Finland’s renowned seasonal ingredients are used in refined Italian-style recipes. The service is cozy and the atmosphere lively: the place is not formal, but still requires a cute outfit. The children are well received and for them it will be easy to build a mini menu. Using seasonal Scandinavian products, the menu varies periodically and to try the latest products is definitely worth trying Ludari menu, a surprise menu choosen by the Chef that offers the best seasonal products. You can choose the 3, 4 or 5 course Ludari Menu, also in vegetarian and vegan version. In addition, but highly recommended, the wine pairings, which includes a glass of wine recommended by the sommelier that matches perfectly to each dish.

Some address to take a look at the Finnish design… even from home

Marimekko www.marimekko.com
Iittala www.iittala.com
Artek www.artek.fi
Artek 2nd Cycle www.2ndcycle.artek.fi
Jopo Bikes www.jopobikes.com
Aarikka www.aarikka.com

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