National Pensions Institute in Helsinki, designed by Alvar Aalto, 1956.
I started a new newsletter series for MIES called Remote Tours. The articles are available only for subscribers, you can add yourself to the mailing list from here. In each newsletter I will present an exquisite building I’ve had the chance to visit over the years, as I hope to keep my audience inspired even during the pandemic.
Whenever travelling to any city, I always first check out if there are any architecturally interesting locations worth to visit. Even I grew up in the surroundings of Helsinki, I still have a long list of places to visit for any time I’m in the city. This time I was smart enough to contact well advance the National Pensions Institute to book a visit in their headquarters. As the Alvar Aalto designed building is still in daily use, it is possible to visit only on mondays, when they organize guided tours.
I arrived well in advance so I got to wander around in the lobby by myself, which was my favorite part of the building. The black and white floor made from marble and belgian granite is so elegant and unique, and great combination with the signature ceramic tile -wall.
I might have written about the Alvar Aalto atelier before, but I’m sure a second time won’t hurt. I spent a quick autumn vacation in Helsinki seeing friends and family, and obviously visiting some of my favourite spots, including the Aalto offices in Munkkiniemi, Helsinki. You can also spot the colorful leaves from the window, the nature was definitely showing it’s best while I was there!
Sometimes when I’m meditating I’m thinking about this room, it makes me feel so calm. After living in Paris for many years (where apartments are teeny tiny) I’m starting to notice I’m constantly craving some space around me.
Snapshots from Helsinki, where I spent the last days of 2018. The gorgeous stairs of Artek store and Alvar Aalto Paimio-chair at Artek 2nd Cycle, which is – as the name tells – a store dedicated to 2nd hand Artek furniture.
From restaurants in Helsinki, I would highly recommend Juuri, which is using very traditional Finnish flavors and preparing everything in their own kitchen. However, I think the ideas behind the meals open up better for a Finnish person, who is familiar with all of the ingredients and have some kind of associations with the flavors. For me it felt like a trip to the forest or fishing by the lake, so much nostalgia.
I recently visited Finland after almost a year. For each visit I’ll try to include some cultural activities and this time I went to see an exhibition about designer and artist Timo Sarpaneva’s works at Design Museum. He is best known for his designs for Iittala, and has also designed the i-logo which is still in use today. I developed a huge obsession for dark green glass, thanks to the glass works above.
The exhibition is running until end of September.
I’ve noticed how easy it is to become blind for the beauty of your home city. Now when living in Paris, I’m constantly finding places I want to visit in Helsinki and Alvar Aalto’s studio and home were the first on my list.
A Helsinki based Japanese designer asked few days back, what is Finnish design to me. It’s very hard to put in to words something that you grew up with, but I found the answer from Aalto’s studio; purpose-driven and unpretentious. Like the Paimio chair above – it was designed for the tuberculosis patients of Paimio sanatorium. The chair made from bended plywood is light to move around, easy to clean and the shape opens respiratory tract and makes breathing easier.