Dezeen Magazine

Jackie bar by Studio Joanna Laajisto

Five spots to take a break during Helsinki Design Week

With Helsinki Design Week underway, local interior designer Joanna Laajisto has rounded up her top five extracurricular activities for visitors to the festival.

The 10-day design event, which began last Thursday and continues to 17 September, has brought designers from all over the world to the city to launch products, put on exhibitions, and debate issues facing the industry.

Laajisto, one of the country's leading interior designers, believes Helsinki's large green spaces make it stand out from neighbouring Scandinavian cities.

"What makes Helsinki different from other Scandinavian cities is the surrounding nature that can be accessed by only few minutes walk or ferry ride from the city centre – it makes the city very special," she told Dezeen.

"In addition to having all the old classic design and architecture – Alvar Aalto's buildings, Yrjö Kukkapuro's, Ilmari Tapiovaara's and Eero Aarnio's designs – we a have strong up-and-coming design scene," Laajisto continued. "You can see this on the street in all the new interesting restaurants and bars as well as in architecture."

Read on for Joanna Laajisto's picks of places to go:

Helsinki Design Museum

Helsinki Design Museum is located inside a former school building in the Kaarti area of the city, which was designed by architect Gustav Nyström in 1895. The museum includes a permanent space devoted to Finnish design, as well as a changing exhibition programme.

"A great place to learn about Finnish design, new and old. I also love to walk down the Korkeavuorenkatu, where there are many little shops and cafes," said Laajisto.

Helsinki Design Muesum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, 00130

Galerie Forsblom

Galerie Forsblom, founded by Kaj Forsblom in 1977, is one of the largest international contemporary art galleries in the Nordic countries. It hosts a variety of exhibitions from established and emerging artists, and has a dedicated gallery for young talent.

"This is a beautiful space, which is always showing interesting exhibitions," said Laajisto.

Galerie Forsblom, Yrjönkatu, 00120

Atelje Finne

When it comes to dinner, Laajisto suggests a visit to Atelje Finne, which is the old studio of sculptor Johan Gunnar Finne – who also practiced as both an architect and an interior designer.

"A beautiful space with interesting history, it is the former atelje of sculptor Gunnar Finne, and serves great food by chef Antto Melasniemi," she said.

Atelje Finne, Arkadiankatu 14, 00100

Jackie bar

For after-dinner drinks, Jackie is the place to go. Named after the song by British baritone Scott Walker, the nostalgia-tinged bar was designed by Laajisto to evoke a 1970s Milanese drinking spot.

"This place is designed for my friends. It's a place to have a casual cocktail and slice of pizza, and they always play great music," she said.

Jackie, Iso Roobertinkatu 21, 00120

Lonna Sauna by OOPEAA

Lonna sauna

Although saunas are generally considered a luxury in the UK, there are an estimated three million in Finland. Around 99 per cent of Finns visit the spa once a week, as a chance to socialise as well as relax.

"For when you want to get to know the Finnish sauna culture and also get a feeling of the Finnish archipelago. It's a short ferry ride from the Helsinki Market square, and there's also a good restaurant in the island," Laajisto said.

Lonna Sauna, Lonna