7 Design Things To Do in Helsikini + Habitare

A few weeks back (OK slightly more than that, this post is long overdue *red face*!) I was invited to Helsinki to attend the interior, design and furniture fair Habitare. I totally fell in love with the Finnish capital all over again. It really is one of my absolute favorite European cities (and I'm not just saying that because I have a penchant for all things Scandinavian - honest!). If you're into design and looking for a weekend break - this is your bag. For those of you further afield, make a week or two of it and visit the Finnish archipelagos as well as the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort (it's on my wishlist!).

Helsinki Marketing - photo by Jussi Hellsten

Our chaperone was Annika Suomi, who knew just about everything there is to know about the best design spots in Helsinki! Over the space of three days, bloggers Holly Becker, Mette Jakobsen, Katariina Kalda, Stefan Nilsson and I enjoyed a design-packed schedule which included supper out on the island of Lonna,  holding a panel discussion at the Habitare fair and a tour of some of the most incredible stores, museums and galleries around the city (oh and we ate some delicious cuisine too!!). It was a whirlwind tour of some of the best design spots in town. If you're visiting any time soon, here are my tips:

7 Things to Do in Helsinki for design lovers

1. Take a tour of the Helsinki Design District and shop for books, design and craft at independent concept stores and galleries like Lokal and TRE!

Image courtesy of Lokal.
2. Take a guided tour of Alvar Aalto's House

2. Enjoy a morning at the Design Museum

Image by: Patrik Lindell/Vandalorum

3. Relax in a sauna at Löyly (beating yourself with branches optional!).

Helsinki Marketing by Pekka Keränen

5. Wile away a few hours at Iittala & Arabia Design Centre (check out this post by Holly Becker over at Decor8 to feel inspired).

Photo by Holly Becker / Decor8

6. Visit the island of Lonna for lunch.

Image - Salla Kantokorpi

7. Eat supper at Grön

Image courtesy of Grön

Where to stay: I loved my stay at Hotel Haven (I have to say, I kind of lucked out with this one!). And sister residence Hotel Fabian is also very central.

For more tips, the book Helsinki: People make the City offers some great advice from the locals and has been my bible both times I've visited (it captures the atmosphere of the city beautifully!).

Habitare design and furniture fair

While we were there, we also spent a few days at Habitare design and furniture fair. Suffice to say, it was hands down the prettiest fair I've ever attended (and I've been to a few!). It helps of course, that the Finns have an innate sense of style and this shone through across the stands! Here is my round-up of 2017 highlights.

1. To celebrate 50 years in the industry, Finnish interior design magazine Avotakka  collaborated with interior designer Maija Rasila (take a tour of her home here) to create a beautiful stand showcasing some of Finland's finest design pieces!

2. Scandinavian design is often about keeping things minimal and working with subtle colour changes. Pentik demonstrated this beautifully on their stand which was decorated in subtle shades of grey and dusty pink with the help of their ceramics.

3. A pile of design books including works by the famous architect Alvar Aalto (who's home we visited!) and Finnish design brand Artek were part of the Asun magazine stand. 

4. I kind of wanted to curl up on the Anno stand and get cosy among all their sumptuous textiles (and enjoy a fika at this table too!).

5. Toimittajien Tusina (The association of interiors journalists) selected their favourite 12 Finnish interior design products 2017 - which were showcased on this beautiful stand near the entrance.  

6. Having worked on a collaboration with Be&Liv in my own home earlier this spring I was so happy to finally meet the team in person and check out some of their new products - like the Peony Lamp.

8. And something for the children - the multi-purpose Nuppu sustainable ceramic children's tableware collection by Maija Puoskari caught my eye - in fact, I awarded it my design choice from the fair! Isn't it beautiful?

Kittos Annika and the Habitare team for inviting me to visit. I hope this post has inspired you to visit Finland some day soon too!

If you'd like to add any tips of great things to see and do in this wonderful city please add them to the comment section below!


  1. To date my work in exhibition design hasn't taken me to Helsinki. It looks like an amazing city


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