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The most loved items in Finnish homes

Finnish people appreciate good quality, practicality and beautiful design. Read on for a list of 8 objects that have over the years solidified their presence in Finnish homes. Do you have any of them in your home?

The Aalto vase

In 1936, Alvar Aalto’s series of glass vases won first prize in the 1936 Karhula-Iittala Glass Design Competition. The series comprised of vases in different size and shape. Compared to decorative objects of the time, the simple yet organic shape of this vase was a revolutionary statement. Aalto didn’t want to dictate a purpose for the vases, but rather left that to its users.

The Aalto vase, which was called the Savoy vase in the beginning, is a symbol of Finnish design and one of the most famous glass objects in the world. Every vase is handcrafted at the Iittala factory. Some of the vases in the series are still made by blowing glass into a wooden mould, just like over 80 years ago. Colours change according to season and the Alvar Aalto Collection also includes products inspired by Aalto and designed by Pentagon Design, a Design Agency in Helsinki.

The Aalto vase is a classic that you can still find in many Finnish homes. Most popular among colours are likely to be different shades of blue and grey, in addition to the classic clear.

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The Stool 60

The Stool 60 designed by Alvar Aalto is a piece of furniture that is well suited as a seat, a table and a storage unit or display surface. Alvar Aalto started experimenting bending wood as early as the 1920’s. Together with furniture manufacturer Otto Korhonen Aalto developed a pioneering process that resulted in the L-leg.

To create the L-leg, cuts are made in the end of a piece of wood, with the slits extending just below the level of the planned bend. Wood veneer strips are then inserted to simplify the bending process and increase the stability of the component. In Stool 60 three of these L-legs are mounted directly to the underside of the round seat without the need for complicated connecting elements. Aalto patented the L-leg manufacturing technique in 1933, which is also the year the Stool 60, was born.

Thanks to its design the stool can be stacked to create a spiralling tower of beauty and practicality. The Stool 60 is manufactured in Turku in 42 production steps out of solid birch. You can choose from several different colours and finishes. Several million units of the Stool 60 and its four-legged cousin Stool E60 have been sold, making it one of the most loved products in the history of design.

Although many dream of owning a brand new Stool 60, it’s equally popular to buy a recycled one. For instance Artek 2nd Cycle in Helsinki focuses especially on vintage Artek furniture.

Artek store: Keskuskatu 1 B, Helsinki

Or find your nearest retailer:

The Rag rug

The rag rug, which is made out of old and out of use fabrics with a handloom, is an old Finnish interior decoration element and insulation against cold floors. The earliest knowledge of rag rugs is from 1798 in the Finland Proper area in Southern Finland. Rugs became more common first in gentry homes and by the end of 1800’s also in peasant homes. A surplus of clothes started to slowly develop as people gained more wealth, which gave material for rag rugs.

Old clothes, sheets and curtains have been cut to rags in many homes; nowadays there’s also new material sold for the purpose, such as cotton and jersey. These materials are usually surplus materials from the textile industry. The traditional way to weave a rag rug is however out of old and worn out clothes.

Rag rugs have also been made out of recycled plastic materials, which can be a good alternative in spaces that get dirty quickly, such as hallways. The rug can be easily washed in the shower.

It’s still fairly popular to weave rag rugs. Especially the younger generations have found the hobby through recycling, although few have the space at home to store a handloom. This means centres for handicraft, where rugs can be woven are important places for keeping the tradition alive.

You can certainly also buy a rag rug from a store. Finarte for instance is a well-known Finnish company that has been designing and manufacturing rugs for decades. The co-founder of Finarte Eija Rasinmäki has modernized the concept of rag rugs since the 1970’s by designing high quality rugs full of personality.


Finarte web store:

The Tasaraita shirt

The Tasaraita (even stripe) shirt by Marimekko is the ultimate Finnish classic designed by Annika Rimala in 1968. The Tasaraita collection consists of unisex clothes suitable for women, men and children. The collection includes jerseys with short and long sleeves, but you can also find sheets and other small products with the pattern.

The Tasaraita pattern was a symbol of equality since day one. When fashion in the 60’s veered towards everyone wearing jeans – men and women – designer Annika Rimala wanted to deign a collection of jersey pieces that would go well with jeans, regardless of age, size or gender. The Tasaraita collection was Marimekko’s first jersey collection and is nowadays one of their ultimate classics.

The Finnish fashion icon Marimekko is well known both in Finland and abroad for its beautiful patterns, such as The Unikko (poppy) pattern designed by Maija Isola in 1964 and the Piccolo pattern designed by Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi in 1953. The Piccolo pattern subsequently ended up decorating the Jokapoika (every boy) shirt, which became equally popular compared to the Tasaraita shirt. Over 50 years after the birth of Tasaraita, in 2019, Marimekko has committed to donating 1€/$/£ for every Tasaraita shirt sold in Marimekko stores and in Europe, The US and Australia to Plan International, the organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.

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The Teema series

Designed by the iconic Kaj Franck for Arabia, the Teema tableware series is still a classic in Finnish homes and cafés. Timeless design and practicality ensure Teema’s popularity decade after decade. Teema was designed in the 1940’s as Kilta, but production didn’t start before 1953.

The stackable and divkierse Kilta was reformed as Teema in 1981. Kilta was based on the change in design thinking that began in the 1930’s. People started to demand more practicality instead of presentability from their tableware. According to Franck the Kilta series was a strike against series with several parts. The series we now know as the Teema is nowadays regularly re-launched in new colours. The designer was well known for his love of colours, which shows in the Teema colours. The original colours of the Teema series were white, yellow, blue, brown, green and black.

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The Kivi Votive

Kivi (meaning “stone” in Finnish) is a votive designed by Heikki Orvola in 1988. It represents Iittala’s world widely acknowledged skills in coloured glass, as the Kivi votive has been made in almost 50 different colours through the years. The bohemian decorator chooses bright colours such as red, green and yellow, as the minimalist chooses more subdued tones in blue and grey. The thick, integrally coloured glass really enhances the beauty of fire.

In addition to another well-known decorative glass element Mariskooli, the Kivi votive is co-produced by Iittala and fashion house Marimekko. Its colour alternatives match the colours of Marimekko collections. During the years the Kivi votive has become a collectors item. Collectors are obviously most interested in colours that have been produced in small batches. Collector or not, most Finns own one or several of the Kivi votive, regardless of age.

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Hai Boots

The Hai (Finnish for shark) rubber boot is a Finnish classic manufactured by Nokian Footwear since 1968. The Hai boot has a shorter shaft than other rubber boots and it was originally designed for sailors. However youngster all over Finland quickly adopted the Hai boot and it became a fashion phenomenon that lasted from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. During that time the boot was manufactured in several colours and sizes.

The Hai boot was briefly out of production during the 1990’s, nut made a comeback during the 2000’s. The new concept allowed a seasonal colour to be sold for a limited period every season. Nokian Footwear also launched the Hai Tricolor colour combination in the 2010’s, which has a third colour in addition to the classic white top and main colour. The third colour decorates the sole and the shaft with a slim stripe on top.

The Hai boot family grew during 2010 with Hai Kids and during 2015 with Hai Low models. The Hai Low has especially become a favourite among youngsters. Slush Helsinki, a popular event for start-up companies, dressed all of their main speakers in black Hai Low’s in 2016. The boots were seen worn by Prince Haakon of Norway. In 2017 the Slush speakers were dressed in dark plum coloured boots and in 2018 in yellow boots.

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The Fiskar scissors

The story of the Fiskars ironworks began as early as 1649 and it’s the oldest company in Finland and even one the oldest in Western countries. In the beginning Fiskars manufactured nails, thread, knives, hoes, iron wheels and other things. Fast forward to year 1967 and the manufacturing of the world’s first plastic-handled scissors. Those orange-handled scissors are nowadays one of the best-known products of Fiskars, but why are they orange?

The scissors were originally designed for manufacture in black, red or green. When the first models were sent to production the machinist decided to finish off the remaining orange colour he had in his machine, for the prototypes. The result was prototypes in four different colours of which black and orange were most liked. An internal vote was taken at Fiskars, and the result gave birth to Fiskars orange-handled scissors. The main reason behind the success of the scissors, in addition to their quality, is in ergonomics; the scissors fit your hand perfectly, thanks to their design.

Fiskars’ expansion began with the founding of a scissors factory in the United States, which proved to be a good idea. It has provided a basis for international trade, a growing market and valuable commercial and professional experience. Fiskars has registered the colour orange in scissors in Finland, the United States and Canada.

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What's your favorite?



Source : article written by Elina Sarén for Business Finland

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