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Sewing Inspiration: Destination Helsinki, Finland

Jul 07, 2017
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An array of purses were ready for purchase at the Marimekko stand at Hakaniemi Market Hall in Helsinki's Kallio neighborhood.

Textile and fashion designers in the Finnish capital clearly draw inspiration from the region’s architecture, both natural and human-made. We found abundant examples of repeating and graphic patterns during our visit this time last year. We were so energized that we’re still talking about them. We’d like to share a few.

The bright, bold prints of world-renowned Finnish design company Marimekko are available by the yard. They’re used in consumer goods, like clothing and accessories, and in home and commercial décor. 

We took extra time to sit and sip our coffee after discovering Marimekko fabrics hanging ceiling to floor, artfully used as room dividers in Cafe Köket in Helsinki’s Tori quarter.

Marimekko pursesAn array of purses were ready for purchase at the Marimekko stand at Hakaniemi Market Hall in Helsinki’s Kallio neighborhood. Marimekko room dividerCafe screenMarimekko fabric is artfully used as a ceiling-to-floor room divider at Cafe Köket in Helsinki’s Tori quarter.More beautifully designed fabric yardage pleases the eye while serving as an indoor screen.

The work of Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) is admired even beyond the country’s borders. Inside Finland, his wide-ranging style can be found in the large public buildings he carefully designed with the intended occupants in mind. Evidence of his pervasive influences are in public stairways, echoed on fabrics, and applied in lighting designs, among other everyday objects. The Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki has an exhibition highlighting Aalto’s contributions and works through Sept. 24, 2017.

Aalto stairwayAalto textilesThis indoor stairwell, with its graphic black tile, is part of the Undergraduate Center on the Otaniemi campus of Aalto University in Espoo, Finland.Aalto tile closeupThe same simple tiled design is part of Finlandia Hall, a conference and event venue designed by Alvar Aalto and located in a park on Töölönlahti Bay, Finland.Alvar Aalto-designed fabric echoes his archiectural details. These fabrics are displayed at the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä, Finland.

The Ateneum Art Museum also organized the Artist’s Coat competition as part of the Stories of Finnish Art exhibition. It features one-of-a-kind works of four well-known designers whose creations were inspired by the museum’s art collection. The winning coat, chosen by a public vote, was designed by Sophie Sälekari.

Wildlife is always nearby in a city nearly surrounded by water and forests. The smart fox, a figure in Finnish mythology, was depicted in a mural signed by artist Nora in 2016, near the Nosturi concert venue in Helsinki’s Hietalahti district and in fabric made into a comforter at a the Finlayson home décor store at Eteläesplanadi 14, Helsinki, across the street from the lovely Esplanade Park.

Fox mural closeupFox building muralFox bedcoverStreet art by the artist Nora depicts wildlife seen in the less urban areas around Helsinki.The outdoor mural featuring a fox covers the sides of a small structure.A fox motif is featured on a comforter at the Finlayson home décor store near Helsinki’s Esplanade Park.

A fabulous coat displayed in a faculty member’s office on the Arabia campus of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture features a tree motif surrounded by spots of bright but softly edged color. Maybe the designer was inspired after strolling through one of the many beautiful green areas of the city and then perusing the prints carried by Pentik, a well-known Finnish ceramics and interior design retailer, or the fabrics sold at Eurokangas, a Finnish-owned textile retailer.

Birch treeTree coat
 Artists draw inspiration from natural scenes like this in and around Helsinki.The designer of this coat displayed in an office at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture clearly borrowed patterns seen in nature. 

The many Helsinki storefronts that advertise tailoring and sewing services are wonderful reminders of the country’s creative and skilled workforce.

Terhi Laine designed printEurokangas curtain sewing promotionDressmaker shopA bold print by Finnish designer Terhi Laine was on display at Eurokangas, a Finnish textile retailer.Curtain sewing services are also advertised inside the Eurokangas store.An older model sewing machine and a mannequin dressed in a gown are displayed in the window of a dressmaker’s shop in the city’s Töölö district.

We were itching to grab our scissors to cut a pattern after noticing a sculpture of shears in the entry of the Fiskars Corporation offices at the Arabia Center in the Arabianranta district. Farther afield but worth a visit is Fiskars Village, the former headquarters of the maker of the well-known orange-handled scissors. Now it is the home to Finnish craftsmen, designers, and artists. Located west of Helsinki in a river valley, the enclave that remains part of the international Fiskars Corporation, holds numerous concerts, food and arts festivals, and it celebrates the history of Fiskars.

Fiskars sculptureGot shears? Check out, but don’t stand under, this sculpture inside the entrance to Fiskars Corporation offices at the Arabia Center in Helsinki’s Arabianranta district.

Post and photos by: Delphine Clegg

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  1. CarolFresia July 11th

    This is so inspiring! I just love all the textiles, and the Fiskars chandelier is amazing.

  2. MaryAnderson97 July 17th

    Their style makes me so impressed!

  3. User avater DavidWatsoner July 18th

    No Comments Just one world It's Amazing

  4. User avater shane.shanea July 19th

    Very much impressive but i must say the creativity on chandelier is amazing.

  5. User avater Tsidu July 25th

    So much impressive to me

  6. Robert1956 July 25th

    What can I say? It's great.

  7. User avater Yvivi July 31st

    Wow, robi wrażenie :D

  8. User avater Bashis August 2nd

    Really nice article.

  9. User avater EmilyDekinson September 11th

    This is very much creative!!! you inspired me a lot...

  10. User avater Nraty September 11th

    This is so inspiring! I just love all the textiles, and the Fiskars chandelier is amazing.

  11. User avater Opuby September 13th

    Cool stylizations, I have to use them sometime

  12. User avater Klehu September 14th

    I love such projects

  13. User avater JoyNash September 15th

    It's amazing.. Love it

  14. User avater Dozug October 10th


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