*The full version of this article is published in Stop in Finland magazine on December 24th
Last winter, while window shopping in Pentik store, it came to my mind that ironically Finnish homes start «blooming» exactly during this season of minus temperatures: just think of all those linen tablecloths, tealight lanterns, gingerbread houses, red wool blankets… So now, when the Christmas lights on Aleksanterinkatu are officially on, and shopping madness in Stockmann has reached its peak – it would be a good time to transcribe my recent interview with Pentik, at least those parts that have to do with the Christmas spirit. After all, Pentik is one of the interior design brands that has been “responsible” for winter inspiration for over 40 years.
In case anybody wonders – yes, I simply love Pentik style. And, as it often happens with something we love, I have a slight difficulty in describing it. Once I came across the following definition of Pentik concept -“cosiness over trendiness”. Well put, but I would rather say that this Finnish brand made cosiness a trend.
The interview took place on Merimiehenkatu, on this particularly stormy and rainy day when you one more time realize that Helsinki is all about the Baltic sea but this fact doesn’t make you as happy, as it used to do in summer. Luckily, behind the metal gray door I did not find just-another-plain-office. Instead, I stepped into some extremely homey and light space, with a mirror in a rough wooden frame; cushions in armchairs, magazines, coffee in pastel cups, and even a fluffy dog. And the memories of the wind and rain somehow vanished in no time.
My “host” was Maija Viertola, the company’s Sales Director. Absolutely charming and welcoming. She made coffee and offered me a tour around. And you know, walking there was like getting inside a giant (700 m²) Time Machine: a breathtaking change of seasons within just 20 minutes. Rich purple and pink colour of rowen berries in wool blankets of the Autumn 2014 collection; tender pistachio and powder-blue glassware for the Spring season; cheerful orange and juicy blueberry in candles and vases of upcoming Summer. And of course, the unspoken 5th season – Christmas, the end and the beginning of designer’s calendar year.
For some reason, Christmas decorations is the annual banality that one never gets tired of. Maija took me to the Christmas stand, and I (predictably!) got mesmerized by the deep red colour of glass candleholders; crystal drops of ornaments pending on silk ribbons; snow-white tealight lanterns; frosty patterns on wine glasses and charming mice in knitted jumpers, dangling their cotton paws from the shelf.
Maija: Christmas is the most important season for us. This year we present four main collections – Kranssi, Pirtti, Aitta and Kello. All are different: a bit of nostalgia, a bit of luxury, a dash of tradition and improvisation. We wanted to show that Christmas shouldn’t necessarily be red – red is a very strong colour that one can easily get tired of. Instead, Christmas can be fairytalish white or stylish gray. Or even lilac – in our Kello collection we present lilac and silver cushion covers. My personal favourite item from this year holiday season is the glass Christmas tree – so tiny, it can fit on your palm.
Kello collection: lilac Christmas
-If we imagine some living space, let’s say the studio apartment or the whole house – what would be the key elements of interior décor according to Pentik Home philosophy?
Maija: For me, fabrics and textile are essential. So, there will be cushions – the easiest and least expensive way to set the mood for your home. Just change the cushion covers. Also, wool blankets and bedspreads. Flowers. Wooden surfaces. A lot of candles – teacandles, table candles of different shapes and colours. In my house, as in many Finnish houses, candles are burning throughout the year, even in summer. It is not the source of light, but the source of cosiness. And last but not least – space should not be luscious with too many objects.
While talking, we stopped by the designer’s office, and I could not resist the temptation to enter. As the contrast to festive atmosphere of gingerbread-crystal Christmas, everything here was already about Summer 2015. And, what impressed me even more than the sudden season leap – was that the designer Liina Harju was carefully drawing green leaves, using good old water-colours.
Maija: Our designers are young and versatile: they work with glass, metal, and textile. And as you see, there is still a lot about the hand touch. Of course, they do use computer programmes, for example when it is needed to create a glass shape, but still so much is done simply with a stroke of a paintbrush. Besides Anu (*Anu Pentik – the founder, creative director and chief designer of Pentik Oy), we have only three designers: Minna Niskakangas and Lasse Kovanen both graduated from the University of Lapland with a Master’s degree in Art, and Liina recently graduated from the Aalto University, Programme in Textile Art and Design.
–Speaking of Lapland, there is a lot connecting Pentik and the North, isn’t it?
Maija: In a way. Even if the Lappish “origin” of a brand was a mere chance, the North of Finland is a neverending source of creativity. You should meet Anu, she is 71 years old and, believe me, she is the happiest woman! Now when the company is run by her son, she can fully focus on what she loves most – her ceramics. She is a resident artist of Pentik Studio in the Eastern Lapland, Posio, and she just never runs out of inspiration. Have you been to Lapland?
-Yes, and exactly somewhere near, in Kuusamo.
Maija: Then you know what kind of landscapes are there…Splendour of autumn colours, freshness of the air, midnight sun, quietness. Everytime we come to visit Pentik-mäki (*Pentik-hill – an innovative visitor attraction in Posio, Lapland, that includes a ceramics factory, coffee cups museum, gallery, café and shopping complex) Anu wants to share:”Just have a look at this sky! Have you seen anything as beautiful as that lake?”. It is a place of truly genuine nature, where the raindeers are just walking around your house, peeking into the windows. And so you come out of your studio, right away see something inspiring and rush back to create more.
–Sounds like an endless circle of creativity…
Maija: (laughing) So it seems!
-Let me summarize: obviously Finns do not see winter as an annoying inevitability that they just have to pass through. On the contrary, they see it as an excellent reason to surround themselves with warmness, cosiness and savor each frosty day? Something I personally need to learn, as for me winter is nothing but a forced hibernation…
Maija: That is exactly the case!
-And what would be your personal recipe for surviving the winter?
Maija: Cross country skiing, family and candles. But I am a winter girl, I simply love this time of the year!
PS. Here you can find information about Pentik brand history and browse through their Christmas catalogue. Mmmm…
#finland #helsinki #design #pentik