Helsinki Card

Designer Sami Ruotsalainen

18.8.2015 Text: Helsinki This Week Photos: Finnish Design Shop
My Helsinki _ Sami Ruotsalainen

WHO?
Sami Ruotsalainen is a designer who works in Marimekko’s design team. In 2009, Marimekko launched his Oiva tableware collection. The Marimekko for Finnair textiles and tableware, which were introduced to all Finnair aircraft in 2013, were designed specifically by Sami in original Marimekko patterns by Maija Isola to meet the airline’s needs. He has also designed tableware for Arabia, another iconic Finnish design brand, worked as a product designer in Japan and designed unique ceramic collections. He is currently working on new Marimekko designs for 2016. 

What about Helsinki attracts you visually?

I like how old and new architecture meet in Helsinki and how our different seasons give distinct dimensions to the city’s appearance. Helsinki has numerous neighbourhoods that differ significantly from each other. Good examples are the Jugendstil city blocks of Katajanokka adjacent to the very heart of the city, the elegant lines and abundant light of the Senate Square, the verdant concentration of functionalism in Töölö and the fresh, rowdy and energetic Kallio.

The city is also filled with quite surprising landmarks like the Sky Wheel in Katajanokka, which creates and interesting contrast with the surrounding 100-year-old architecture, as well as the inviting and warm-spirited Kulttuurisauna in the bosom of Merihaka’s brutalist raw concrete. All in all, Helsinki is presently going through an intriguing transitional phase: it is interesting to witness the new residential areas melding into the city and how the centre expands while retaining its airiness and extensive green belts.     

What places in Helsinki feed your creativity?

Walking along the shoreline in central Helsinki is especially inspiring for me. One of my regular walks takes me from Eira all the way to Merihaka. Seurasaari and its environs as well as Alvar Aalto’s home in Munkkiniemi also impress me every single time. The stunningly beautiful rose garden in the Meilahti Arboretum with its more than 100 rose bushes, in bloom from mid-June to mid-August, is another favourite of mine.

I admire Marimekko’s amazing contribution to design, pattern-making and visual arts.

What kind of a design city is Helsinki?

Helsinki is really versatile as a design city (e.g. it was the World Design Capital in 2012) and design is a very close companion of everyday life here as well as being an inseparable aspect of our urban culture. Helsinki is home to a very strong young design scene, which exists naturally alongside classical Scandinavian design.

You work for an iconic Finnish brand. What does Marimekko mean to you, is it more than an employer?

I admire Marimekko’s amazing contribution to design, pattern-making and visual arts. It has always been open-minded and something completely different.

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