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Cover Story shop interior by Linda Bergroth

Cover Story plastic-free paint shop encourages visitors to play with colour

Finnish plastic-free paint company Cover Story has opened its first shop: a "paint studio" fitted out by interior designer Linda Bergroth to offer customers multiple ways to explore colour.

The Cover Story Paint Studio is located in a small shopfront in central Helsinki. The brand considers this one of its points of differentiation from how paint is traditionally sold, on the outskirts of town in mammoth hardware stores.

Galvanised steel table in a sparse interior, with an arched window overlooking the street
The Paint Studio by Linda Bergroth is Cover Story's first bricks-and-mortar store

Instead, Cover Story tries to create a "pleasant and inspiring way to buy paints", and since its launch in January 2021 has operated an online store with worldwide home delivery.

The brand produces a curated collection of just 32 colours, chosen for their suitability to Nordic light conditions, with special limited-edition ranges created by guest designers.

Colourful blocks in different shapes fit on a steel table, with a decaying door leading to a roomful of paint tins in the background
Bergroth's design involved highlighting historic features, such as a double door between rooms

To avoid the microplastic pollution caused by common wall paint, which uses plastic as a binder, Cover Story instead produces a water-soluble paint with castor oil as part of the binder. It is no-VOC and odour-free.

The new Helsinki shop gives customers the option to explore paint samples in different ways than they would at home, as well as offering a click-and-collect point.

Historic tile stove on the back wall of a pale pink-hued room, with industrial shelving holding paint tins on the wall next to it
The store functions as both a showroom and click-and-collect point for customers

Bergroth both designed the interiors and created the brand's first capsule collection of six colours.

"The space was originally designed to be a showroom and office, but as the amount of interest from designers and private customers has grown over time, it is serving now more as a showroom and pick up point for paint," Bergroth told Dezeen.

Shelves of paint tins in a pale pink room lit by a large arched window in Cover Story's shop
The shop is located in a historic 1905 building

"Product development happens in the basements, also visible from the street."

The shop is located on Bulevardi in a historic 1905 building, dominated by the vestiges from a 1980s renovation that included glazed black and white floor tiles, wall-to-wall carpet and "a considerable amount of exposed electrical wiring," according to Bergroth.

Colourful blocks in different shapes painted in Cover Story's 32 paint colours
Customers are encourage to play with coloured blocks try different colour combinations and experience the effect of light on colour

Her approach was to restore the building's old features while introducing innovative new displays.

Elements such as the vintage doors dividing the two-room space have been deliberately left untreated, with white peeling paint revealing the history of the building beneath.

Bergroth also believes the unfinished look brings to mind the process of renovation, conjuring a mood appropriate for the store.

Along one wall are adhesive colour samples, painted with the actual products. Cover Story's approach is to team them with small fragments of narrative, printed beneath the swatch, that evoke something of the colour's mood.

Galvanised steel table in front of a wall of paint swatches in the Cover Story Helsinki store
Adhesive paint swatches line one wall, and are accompanied by small bits of narrative text

In the centre of each room is a display made of painted blocks in different shapes, which allow customers to try out different colour compositions.

Being three-dimensional, they also allow customers to experience varying facets of the same colour.

Wood and metal paint tools on display at the Cover Story shop
Cover Story's packaging and tools is plastic-free, as is its paints

"The cube shape allows us to see different tones of the same colour, as light hits differently," said Bergroth. "This is an important thing when choosing a wall paint: is the painted surface for or against the light source in the room."

The walls of one room are horizontally divided into two colours, to inspire customers to play with several hues in one room, while the other room contains the stock in paint tins along one wall of industrial shelving.

Stools in front of steel benches topped with colourful painted blocks
Cover Story makes a tightly curated range of 32 colours, with guest designers contributing additional capsule collections

Cover Story only uses metal and wood in its packaging and tools, and the shop interior mirrors this with materials limited to galvanised steel, wood, concrete and paint.

Cover Story was founded in 2020 by entrepreneur Anssi Jokinen and former investment banker Tommi Saarnio.

Cover Story metal sign hanging from the stone wall outside of a Helsinki building
The shop is located in the centre of Helsinki in a historic building

Design director Päivi Häikiö created the 32 colours of the brand's basic collection, looking to the rich colour palette of historical Finnish interior design as a reference.

Bergroth's previous work has included the pop-up Zero Waste Bistro interior at the the WantedDesign Manhattan fair in 2018.

She also designed the Koti hotel in Paris, which immerses guests in the Finnish experience of sleeping in wooden cabins and sharing meals around a communal table.

Photography is by Paavo Lehtonen.

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