Designer Saana Ja Olli + What Finnish Design Means To Me

I've been a big fan of Finnish designer Saana Ja Olli for nearly two years since I have one of her extra large totes and love it. I take it on photo shoots to haul things like pillows and blankets, and I take it when I transport boxes and bulky stuff to the post office, a shop or to see a friend. It's the best bag in the world, and I get tons of comments when I use it - mostly, how fond everyone is by its enormous size and sheer gorgeousness.



Don't these image give you such a beautiful, restful feeling inside? I like them so much, such pretty, moody lighting and styling too.

I was reminded of Sanna Ja Olli today because I've been contacted by Helsingin Sanomat (the largest newspaper in Finland) and Anna (Finland's lifestyle site for women) for interviews since I'll soon be in Hensinki lecturing at Habitare. I'm so excited that Finland is welcoming me so nicely to their country, what an honor and privilege to be received so warmly during my first visit.

During one of the interviews, I was asked about Finnish design and what attracts me to it and who is designing in Finland that I admire. One of the brands I named was Saana Ja Olli since I'm madly in love with her patterns and the simplicity and naturalness in what she produces.

One of the interviews today was interesting, the journalist asked me what I thought about Finnish design, how I "saw" it. This was a question I'd never been asked, and I hadn't given it much thought until today. I explained that when I think of Finnish design, I imagine nature and powerful shapes and a bit of a Slavic aesthetic - from neighboring Russia mostly. I imagine shapes that are strong, clear and graphic. Finnish design also seems very sensitive to me, like there is an understanding of design in an almost spiritual, elevated sense. I don’t think of mass-produced or a consumer culture – I picture sustainability, sensitivity, emotion and also an excellent marriage of form and function. I also see simplicity but ironically, a bit of a sense of humor in the design – shapes are playful and experimental.

Another thing that came to mind during our interview is that when I think of Finnish interiors, not one interior style comes to mind. Do you know what I mean by this? When I think of a Danish, Dutch, American or Swedish home, I immediately see an interior - some image pops to mind - or a range of "styles" per country...




When I think of Finnish design, I think of individual pieces, but not interiors. I couldn't really tell you what a Finnish home looks like. This is a strength I believe, what really makes them stand out. It gives them the power to create their own style through objects that they collect and love because they seem to adhere less to a certain mainstream vision.

I'm not Finnish and I've never been there, so perhaps my perspective is not shared. I'm curious when I get to Helsinki and start inspecting interiors more carefully, what I'll learn?

Do you have any impressions on this topic to share? I'm quite curious to hear them so please comment if you'd like. I don't bite.

(Images: saana ja olli)