Suomenlinna: a not so Helsinki Secret
Everyone, truly everyone: from Helsinki locals to avid travelers, told me to visit the Unesco World Heritage site of Suomenlinna when in Helsinki. It felt a bit like: "You have to visit the Eiffel tower", which usually makes me want to skip a site or monument alltogether. But not in the case of Suomenlinna: it is a truly unique place? Suomenlinna (or Sveaborg in Swedish) is an inhabited sea fortress built on 6 islands, just off the coast of Helsinki. After only a short 20-minute ferry trip from the city center, you arrive in what seems like a different world. In our case: a snowy white wonderland, where around 800 people live all year round. No cars, few tourists because of the season, a mariage celebration in the church, a tough guy on a snow bike... and a snow storm!
Let me take you on a little virtual tour. First we hopped on the ferry from the harbour of Helsinki:
We wondered how the ferry would get through the ice in real, winter, because when we were there it was only around 0°C. The ice chunks looks impressive and made quite a lot of noise against the hull of the ferry:
And all of a sudden the ice chunks turn into water-only:
One of the island of the Suomenlinna archipel: Ryssänsaari, Puolimatkansaari:
The first building you see when reaching Suomenlinna by ferry is the pink-blush building (top of this blog post). I think it's the most Instagrammed spot of the entire island, although there are some other photogenic places on the islands, like this pale blue house with veranda:
Ipi Kulmakuppila in Helsinki
Last week we were interviewed by Radio Helsinki about our trip to the Finnish capital as #HelsinkiSecret residents. Live on air (you can listen to the podcast here), we met ice hockey player Eetu Pöysti from the Helsinki Jokerit and Minna Särelä, CEO of Design District Helsinki. Together we spoke about Finnish food, design, my Instagram husband, the specific light in the city and the humbleness of the Finnish people. Eetu told us about his favorite neighborhood in Helsinki, called Kallio, that had a bit of a Berlin-vibe according to him. So of course we had to check it out.
And indeed, the area is a bit rough around the edges with lots of second hand shops and a few cool cafés. My favorite was Ipi Kulmakuppila (in Finnish: Ipi corner café), a very cosy designed café with lots of wood, bright white walls, leather cushions and butterfly chairs. And lots of plants. In the back there's even a giant plant that is taking over the entire wall!
The interior design of Ipi Kulmakuppila was designed by talented Petra Majantie and the graphic design (including the wall decoration pictured above) is by Dog Design & Timo Ripatti. It's a very warm and friendly space, where students, elderly people, businessmen and young moms enjoy their coffee, brunch, lunch or afternoon cake here. And just as good as the look and feel of Ipi corner café, is the concept behind it: it's also a social workspace, where a dozen disabled people and their tutors work every day. No wonder why Ipi feels like such a warm space: there's a good mix of people, design, food and plants!
Besides the plants, the Aim pendant lights by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Flos were my favorite: they add a playful touch to the space. The wooden Hiroshima armchairs by Naoto Fukasawa for Maruni and the Osso bar stools by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Mattiazzi are also very pretty and add just the right amount of wood and comfort. Oh and don't miss the toilets either... they're gorgeous with a dash of bright yellow!
I also really liked the story behind the name of Ipi Kulmakuppila:
The café was named after Pekka Hämäläinen (1938 - 2013), a senior lawyer based in Helsinki. He was a very loved man with a positive outlook on life and people. After his death, an idea of setting up a “monument” for him in Helsinki started spreading among people who knew him. Hämäläinen’s first grandchild was born in 1986, with Down syndrome. Hämäläinen had a positive, constructive attitude to life and people, and the disability of his grandchild did not change this. He was a loving grandfather to all his grandchildren and took genuine interest in them. Pekka Hämäläinen’s children and grandchildren knew him by one name, and that name was Ipi. Thus, the café was named after the nickname of Pekka “Ipi” Hämäläinen, a lover of good food and a famous figure in Helsinki. You can almost hear Ipi greet his guests at the door.
Super comfy butterfly chairs surrounded by lots of plants in terracotta pots, on the mezzanine:
And the tea and coffee weren't so bad either:
In my book you never go wrong when you add several plants to your home / shop / café / workspace / whatever ;)
Ipi Kulmakuppila /// Porthaninkatu 13 /// 00530 Helsinki /// +358 45 6164776
Open Monday to Friday: 8 - 20, Saturday: 10 - 17
Hel Yeah, a week of Helsinki Secrets!
Hel Yeah! We had the most amazing week in Helsinki! Robert and I spent a week as residents of the #HelsinkiSecrets residence to explore the Finnish capital as a local. Before leaving I made a short list of things I wanted to do in Helsinki: eat a Runebergintorttu (a Finnish almond & rum flavoured pastry), go dancing and buy a vintage Arabia plant pot. And while I didn't do a single one of them (Runebergintorttu season is over, our feet were too tired for dancing after walking 25.000 steps/day and the shop with vintage Arabia was closed when we visited), Helsinki didn't disappoint... at all! Let me tell you why:
First of all, we were super lucky with the weather: we had everything between sunny blue skies and snow storms with temperatures between -4°C and +2°C. It was a dry kind of cold that doesn't freeze you to the bones, and of course our Makia coats and Costo beanies (with detachable bobbles!) kept us warm and comfy. It was a nice weather mix that allowed us to walk and bike through the city and feel the (mild) winter weather.
And then of course: Helsinki is an interesting place when you ♥ design. Like in the other Nordic countries, design is part of daily life and not something very sacred: in many public places, like librairies, museums and churches, the furniture and accessories are from worldfamous Finnish brands like Artek, Marimekko, Iittala or Arabia. The Design District of Helsinki includes around 200 independant boutiques and designers that sell anything from wool to contemporary art, the best design books, beautiful paper goods and quirky home goods. I'll be sharing a guide with some of my favorite shops and places very soon.
What struck me most in Helsinki, were the people: they were extremely polite and helpful. Not in a cheerful and upbeat way, but in a humble and pragmatic manner. We walked around a lot and never bumped into anyone (something that happens all the time in Paris) and overall the city was very calm too: no yelling, no loud noises. Even in their enthusiasm there seemed to be some kind of calmness. For example at the ice hockey match that we attended it was rather quiet for almost 13.000 people. But maybe that was also because the Helsinki Jokerit lost with 4-2 to Moscow Spartak... Overall the general attitude of the people in Helsinki felt very refreshing, mature and natural to us.
And another thing that made Helsinki special to us this week was the light. That fantastic Nordic winter (or almost spring!) sun light. Because the sun is still so low, you can rarely see the sun directly in the city center, you rather see it reflected by building facades and windows. It gives a certain Nordic glow to Helsinki that I love.
These were some first impressions of his hel-ish week in Helsinki. Believe me, we didn't have enough time to do all the things that we wanted to, so Robert and I are already making plans to go back and indulge in sauna-visits, Runebergintorttu, design shopping and snowy hikes.
And you probably guessed right: yes I made lots of photos and can't wait to share some of my favorite Helsinki secrets with you in the coming days. Have you ever been to Helsinki? What were your favorite places?
Au revoir Paris, hei Helsinki!
Two weeks ago I walked past Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge for the first time since the Paris attacks. I never really felt the urge to see the places where such tragic events took place, with my own eyes. Somehow I ignored that they put up colorful buntings shortly after the attacks. On the buntings of colorful fabrics people and children from the neighborhood wrote messages of peace and kindness. And look at it: doesn't it look SUPER powerful?!
Today I'm leaving my beloved French capital to explore the Finnish capital Helsinki for a week. Snow, Finnish design, saunas and Laskiaissunnuntai. Yes the latter is a fancy Finnish word for shrove buns, or cream puffs. Yummm! I missed the typical Swedisch version Semla when in Stockholm a few years ago, so I can't wait to indulge ;)
If you want to see what I'm up to in Helsinki, follow me on Instagram or Snapchat. And if you have any Helsinki tips, feel free to share them in the comments below :)
Mama Petula plant concept store in Paris
Happy Valentine's Day! No hearts or roses here today, but big heaps of green love!
Yesterday I was invited by Caroline to the opening of her (long-awaited) plant concept store Mama Petula in Paris. Last summer she was given the opportunity to rent a small house on the site of a former hospital in the 14th arrondissement. In the past months she showed peeks of all the hard work on her Instagram, and l'Instant Parisien featured her on their website while she hunted for old furniture and objects in the abandoned hospital. Some of these old medical accessories are now used as fun plant pots and decoration of her new concept store. But there's nothing like seeing a new creative endeavor with your own eyes. And I loved it! Of course I made a lot of photos to show you what this new green gem looks like. Here we go:
The little maison has a few different rooms that are rather bright and white, despite the gloomy rainy weather yesterday. There are lots of quirky details everywhere, like a 1€ vending machine with tiny plant cuttings, a baby succulent nursery, vintage pharmacy bottles, plants pots in all kinds of shapes and beautiful plant hangers. And of course: a lot of plants. Not the kind of plants you can easily find at IKEA or your local garden center, but some more home-y ones, like the super popular Pilea peperomioides, also known as the pancake plant or Chinese money plant.
What I loved about Mama Petula, is that it's not crowded with plants. Sure there are a lot of plants you can choose from, but there's room to actually appreciate the details of the plants. Caroline told me that she's currently experimenting with all different kinds of plants, because la petite maison has a particular kind of light and it's rather warm and dry here. It shows she truly cares about her plants, she wants to make sure they are happy and healthy in her shop and doesn't just "sell plants" because they are hip & trendy.
The #jungleanimals wall paper on the left, was custom made by Mues Design. And Mama Petula also sells unique botanical artwork by Asha Hope, a talented illustrator living between Paris, Toulouse and Switzerland.
So if you are looking to get yourself an Oxalis, a Pilea or a polkadot plant (Hypoestes phyllostachya), you know where to go:
You can also find these bigger leafy plants, like the Philodendron or the Fiddle leaf fig at Mama Petula:
Mama Petula isn't only a place where you can buy plants and plant accesories, Caroline and her team can also help you if you're having plant troubles and sick planty patients (see: it's still a bit of a hospital!). And as of February 20th there will also be workshops for children (age 4+) at Mama Petula. Subscribe to the newsletter to be informed about all the details.
My favorite room in the house, was in the back: the light was gorgeous and you could still get a glimpse of bygone days.
All kinds of cuttings growings new roots in their glass bottles:
By the way, the site of former Saint Vincent de Paul hospital, is very interesting to visit as well. Lots of creatives and artisans are using the different buildings as their workshop, gallery or boutique. There's a ceramist atelier that I loved, and a thrift store with not-so-Parisian price tags. Also, there's a bar and salle de fête where you can relax and have a drink. It's nice and buzzing!
Below, a fun French touch to the Kokedama: the moss balls were stuck in some old wine bottles and attached to the ceiling. Makes for an interesting spin on the more traditional hanging planters, right?!
Mama Petula Décoration végétale /// 82, Avenue Denfert-Rochereau /// 75014 Paris /// +33 (0)6 17 76 15 09
Open saturday and sunday: 14:00 - 20:00 (but check Mama Petula on Instagram to get latest updates on opening hours!)
(enter the site at Les Grands Voisins, walk 50 metres straight, then Mama Petula is on the left)
Urban Jungle Bloggers #26
Usually Wally is always around when I'm shooting a new Urban Jungle Bloggers post, but for this special Jungle Animals editions he couldn't be bothered. Fortunately Otta was more than happy to walk around the little jungle I prepared on our dinner table. She loved it, especially nibbling on fresh Philodendron leaves, her favorite.
Living with plants and cats is always a bit challenging. What works for me: the juicy & leafy plants are all in catsafe areas: on the fridge, on top of the bookcases, or in the greenhouse where they don't have access to. Which means we only have cactus plants and some succulents on the tables and shelves. I would love to have a palm tree on my desk permanently, like in the Back to School: Plants on the workspace Edition. Oh I really loved that tropical feeling! But well... I prefer to keep my cats and plants healthy.
Otta seemed very happy in her jungle and checked out all the plants like a curious kitty cat. It was certainly the highlight of her 1 hour-day, as she usually sleeps 23 hours/day. She's been living with us for fifteen years, much longer than most of the plants ;)
Can you spot little Otta?
See there she is, our little jungle tiger ;)
The pink dotted table cloth is by HAY, via Really Well Made. I love it!
All of our three cats, love leafy juicy plants: palm trees, Monstera and Philodendron. It's probably because they are sugar-y and juicy. Or maybe they smell good?
They definitely taste good too:
For the sake of a photo, I let her nibble for a few seconds and then told her to stop. There are tons of lists of toxic plants for cats, which all include the Philodendron, but she was OK. Although you should be more careful with any kind of Lily. They are most poisonous for cats. We don't have lilies, so we're safe ;)
Our little Otta being very innocent:
Do you have any tips for living with plants and cats? How do you keep you cats from destroying your plants? I would love to hear!
Urban Jungle Bloggers is a monthly series hosted by 2 bloggers: Igor (Happy Interior Blog) and Judith (JOELIX.com). Every month we share ideas to create an urban jungle through styling ideas, DIYs and green tips & tricks. You can find additional inspiration on our Urban Jungle Bloggers Pinterest board and keep up-to-date via Facebook or Instagram. Want to join? Find out how on our website and use #urbanjunglebloggers on twitter and instagram. Let's bring some green into our homes and blogs!
► For more Jungle Animals, check out the gallery!
Klin d'oeil boutique & galerie in Paris
Once I found out talented duo heju was working on the new Klin d'oeil boutique & gallery in Paris, I couldn't wait to see it. I really love what they did at the courtyard of Les Petits Hauts (I blogged about that here), and the sneak peeks on Instagram with this fabulous Sudbury Yellow by Farrow & Ball made me happily walk to the 11th arrondissement in Paris. Let me take you on a little virtual visit, let's go:
For the past few years, Klin d'oeil has been "famous in Paris" for its creative pop-up events with many different designers and artists. They gathered a clan...I mean "Klin" of like-minded people that love handmade, contemporary design, great food and cool music. And that's exactly what you'll find at their new boutique & gallery! It's beautiful, cosy and refreshing.
Lampshades in colorful wool, inspired by Ana Kras:
Colorful ceramics, jewelry, bags and pouches by Studio Walkie Talkie and Atelier Dimanche, accessories, paper goods, cushions, vases, soaps by Le Baigneur, embroidered artwork by Sophie Bazin, post cards... and plants!
A cosy nook to hang out and relax:
Postcards withs lots of winks (clin d'oeil means wink in French) and risoprints by artist Lea Maupetit:
If you love color & plants & unique design goodies, this is the boutique to go:
*Wink wink* by Tapamtapam:
If you plan to visit the new Klin d'oeil boutique & galerie in the Rue Deguerry, it's hard to miss:
Klin d'oeil boutique & galerie /// 6, rue Deguerry /// 75011 Paris /// +33 1 77 15 22 30
Open every tuesday to saturday from 11AM to 7PM
@joelixjoelix on instagram