The following itinerary lists a range of museums, galleries, buildings and design projects which we plan to visit. Many are accessible to the public, but some require special permission, which may only be confirmed closer to the tour’s departure. The daily activities described in this itinerary may change or be rotated and/or modified in order to accommodate alterations in museum opening hours and privately hosted visits. Participants will receive a final itinerary together with their tour documents prior to departure. The tour includes breakfast daily, lunches and evening meals as indicated in the itinerary where: B=breakfast, L=lunch, and D=evening meal.
Helsinki - 6 nights
Day 1: Tuesday 3 September, Arrive Helsinki
- Airport transfer for participants arriving on the ASA ‘designated’ flight
- Welcome Drinks (exact location to be determined)
Tour participant taking ASA’s designated group flight will arrive early in the morning at Helsinki airport. Here, one of your group leaders will meet you in the arrival hall and accompany you back to the hotel. If you are not taking the group flight please make your own way to the hotel. After dropping off your luggage, we shall have a short introductory meeting in the foyer of our hotel. (Overnight Helsinki)
Day 2: Wednesday 4 September, Helsinki
- Architecture walking tour of Helsinki (exact route to be confirmed in 2019)
- Marita Huurinainen Showroom
- Design Museum
- Designer Anu Penttinen, Nounou Design Showroom
- Artek Flagship Store
Led by the knowledgeable guides at Archtours, we begin our day with a walking tour of Helsinki. We are introduced to the grandfather of Finnish architecture and design, Alvar Aalto. This iconic Finn served in the Finnish Civil war in 1918 whilst in the midst of his architecture studies. In the early 1920s, he began his architecture career, following the styles of classicism and functionalism. Following this, he went through an experimental period, and began designing building interiors. He became increasingly successful, inventing the widely used three legged stool, and introducing the patented bent wood manufacturing process. Aalto’s designs include libraries in Russia, theatres in Germany and churches in Italy. Later in his career he was commissioned for key projects in Helsinki such as Finlandia Hall, a key landmark which we will visit on day 3.
The walking tour also includes sites such as the Helsinki University new campus library 2012 by Anttinen Oiva Architects, Pohjola Insurance Building 1901 by Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen, Helsinki Main Railway Station by Eliel Saarinen 1903-1919, Kinopalatsi by Eliel Saarinen 1921 and National Museum of Finland 1910 by Gesellius, Lindgren and Saarinen.
We also meet with designer Marita Huurinainen at her showroom which features modern wooden clogs, evening wear and other creations. Of particular fame is her award-wining ‘Wave shoe’, innovatively designed to be flexible to walk in, even though it is made from wood.
The Design Museum presents the development of Finnish design from the late 19th century to today. It showcases the biggest names of Finnish design, from Akseli Gallen-Gallela and Alvar Aalto to Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva. There is a permanent exhibition dating back to the 1870s that looks at craft, fashion, furniture design and industrial design. The museum was founded in 1873 as a study collection for the Helsinki Arts and Crafts School and has operated in its current premises since 1978.
Mid-afternoon we meet with Anu Penttinen, founder of Nounou Design. Penttinen graduated from the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 2002, majoring in glassblowing. Glass production at Nounou is done for private and corporate commissions and aside from glass work, Penttinen shares her expertise by collaborating on various projects within the design field. Recent examples of her work include Sukat Makkaralla, a series of glasses composed for Marimekko. Sukat Makkaralla is a Finnish expression which means ‘socks rolled down’.
We conclude with a visit to the Artek Flagship Store. When Artek first opened in 1935, it mainly sold furniture designed by two of its cofounders, the architect and designer couple Alvar Aalto and his wife, Aino. It still sells classic Aalto, but also stocks the works of other famous Finnish and international designers.
We enjoy a welcome meal at the Savoy Restaurant. (Overnight Helsinki) BD
Day 3: Thursday 5 September, Helsinki
- Harri Koskinen Studio – Friends of Industry Ltd.
- Marimekko Corporation – Marimekko House: private guided tour
- Iittala & Arabia Design Centre: meet artists (TBC)
- Ateljé Sotamaa architecture firm: meet the architects
- Finlandia Hall: guided tour
Today we meet Harri Koskinen who established his design studio, Friends of Industry Ltd. in Helsinki in 1998. In his work Koskinen focuses mainly on product design, though his studio also offers concept design and exhibition architecture. Koskinen’s impressive list of clients includes companies such as Artek, Design House Stockholm, Iittala, Magis, Issey Miyake, Montina, Muji, Panasonic, Seiko Instruments, Swarovski and Venini. In 2004, he received the Italian Compasso d’Oro Award for the Muu chair designed for Montina. Koskinen’s works have been presented in numerous exhibitions all over the world. His Block lamp for Design House Stockholm (1996) is included in the collection of MoMA. He also has works in the permanent collections of the Design Museum in Helsinki and in the Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design. Koskinen’s recent productions include an incense holder for Lisn, OMA tableware for Arabia and men’s underwear for Black Horse.
We continue our exploration of Finnish design with a private guided visit of the Marimekko Corporation which includes Marimekko House. We enjoy a tour of the house with Senior Printing Specialist Petri Juslin who gives us a presentation about Marimekko print designs.
In the surrounding area, we observe the participatory architectural planning in residential suburb of Arabianranta. Literally ‘the coast or shoreline of Arabia’ this extraordinary old mixed industrial and residential precinct gained its name long before the Arabia ceramics factory, the largest ceramics centre in Europe, was built there; the name Arabia or rather “Arabian ja Kaanaan maa” (the land of Arabia and Canaan) is already found in 18th-century documents whereas the Arabia factory was not founded until 1871.
Nowadays Arabianranta is undergoing a fascinating revival in which ultra-modern development contrasts to older industrial plant style. It is fundamentally a place of contrasts: ‘old and new’, ‘nature and urbanity’, ‘industry and residence’, ‘work and peace’, ‘art and technology’. Arabianranta is home to 10,000 people, a workplace for 5,000 and a campus for 6,000 students and professionals. As a residential district, Arabianranta is heterogeneous, a place of extraordinary experiment in domestic architecture. The district has been a ‘laboratory’ for housing, and since 2007 of a cooperative scheme called Helsinki Living Lab. Modern loft buildings, city villas, distinctive examples of Plus Koti (Plus Home) and homes for groups with special needs such as Loppukiri (community housing for active elderly people) and Käpytikka (residence for mentally disabled juveniles).
As a hub for creative industries, Arabianranta is home to 300 small and medium-sized enterprises. After its educational institutes, the biggest private sector employers are the Iittala Group and Digia Oyj.
The highlight of our exploration of this courageous experiment in democratically driven urban revival is a tour of the Arabia Factory. The tour includes watching the manufacturing process of porcelain and a visit to the Arabia Museum and Gallery, which is actually housed within Arabianranta’s Aalto University School of Art and Design.
We return to Helsinki for a visit of the offices of Atelje Sotamma Architects, where we shall meet with Kivi Sotamaa and Tuuli Sotamaa, the brother and sister pair who founded this firm. Atelje Sotamma employs a small international staff of architects, designers and artists. Gold medal winners at World Expo for their small pavilion, this firm lists ‘people’s experience’ as the driving force of its design.
The final visit for today is to Finlandia Hall, for a guided tour. A congress and events centre which was designed by Alvar Aalto and constructed in 1971, this modernist building features a tower with a high empty space for better acoustics (hidden from guests by a latticed ceiling) and the interior of the building is a tribute to Aalto’s attention to detail. (Overnight Helsinki) BL
Day 4: Friday 6 September, Helsinki
- Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects
- Galleria Bronda Oy
- Ivana Helsinki Flagship Store: meet designer Paola Ivana Suhonen (to be confirmed)
- Lunch at Dylan Marmoripiha Restaurant in the Rautalo building
- Artek 2nd Cycle
- Museum of Finnish Architecture: guided tour
- Löyly sauna: optional sauna visit and view from the terraces
We begin today with a visit of Hollmén Reuter Sandman Architects where we shall meet with Jenni Reuter to learn more about the firm’s work. “The architects Saija Hollmén, Jenni Reuter and Helena Sandman started their collaboration in 1995 with the Women’s Centre project in Senegal. Today, their activities span from interiors to urban planning. They work in Finland as well as in several African countries. The group believes in innovations by investigation, where the landscape, sensitivity towards materials and site-specific interventions are the means for a new architecture. Their work has been honoured with both national and international awards and has been published and exhibited widely. Apart from working as visiting critics and lecturers all over the world, the architects also teach at the Helsinki University of Technology and Aalto University.”
Galleria Bronda Oy has been exhibiting contemporary art since 1978. Currently exhibiting the work of Turkish artist Tiina Vainio, a visit to this gallery will allow participants to view a contemporary art exhibition (2019 exhibition to be announced).
Paola Ivana Suhonen is the Helsinki born designer, artist and filmaker behind the independent fashion and cinema brand Ivana Helsinki. “As the artist behind the fashion pieces, she starts from her dark, naïve mind-landscapes, northern legends and western romantics, creating the prints, graphics and films to supplement her collections. The mix of past and present has infused her style with flavourful sophistication of yesteryear along with a shot of contemporary charm.
A brand thirteen years in the making, the family-operated Ivana Helsinki atelier is based in downtown Helsinki where unique pieces and small-series production are done. All knits are manufactured in Finland and hand knits come from Lapland. The brand is the only Scandinavian womenswear brand to be accepted into the official Paris Fashion Week “IN” Show calendar and has been featured in several alternative projects where fashion, design and modern art have been combined.’
We enjoy lunch at Dylan Marmoripiha, located in the historic Rautatalo building, designed by Alvar Aalto.
Artek 2nd Cycle is a shop featuring iconic furniture design; it has a vintage collection of Alvar Aalto furniture as well as other esoteric Finnish and international brands. Juhani Lemmetti, the company’s current development director and founder of Artek 2nd Cycle, states that “One great thing about 2nd Cycle is that our young customers often want to buy pieces their grandparents once had.”
A short walk from Artek 2nd Cycle is the Museum of Finnish Architecture, whose huge collection consists of 85,000 black-and-white photographs, 30,000 slides, 500,000 original drawings, copies of drawings, documents and models. Our visit here provides an excellent overview of Finnish 20th-century architecture.
To conclude the day’s program, we visit Löyly Sauna. Löyly is the Finnish word for the steam that envelopes you when water is thrown on the hot sauna rocks. This steam is essential to the sauna experience, which tour participants can either partake in at leisure or alternatively may wish to climb atop the building, designed by Avanto Architects, to admire sea views. (Overnight Helsinki) BL
Day 5: Saturday 7 September, Helsinki
- The Aalto House: guided tour
- The Studio Aalto: guided tour
- Sarpaneva Design: view the private collection with Timo Sarpaneva’s wife
- The Finnish Design Market
We commence with a visit the Family Home and Office designed by Aino and Alvar Aalto in 1934-36. The building presents a severe façade to the street, hiding an interior that experiments with the ‘Romantic Functionalist Style’ that Aalto fully developed in the later Villa Mairea. Nearby we visit Aalto’s studio of 1955, which is often considered one of his finest building from the ’50s. Finnish experts lead our visits and will offer you special insights into the architect and his work.
On Kuusisaari island in Helsinki, the Didrichsen Art Museum is a unique combination of an art museum and a private villa by the seaside. Villa Didrichsen was designed by Viljo Revell, who worked as Alvar Aalto’s assistant in the world exhibition in Paris and whose influences included the well known modernist architect, Swiss-French Le Corbusier. The art collection is stored in the villa annex.
Timo Sarpaneva was an influential Finnish designer, sculptor, and educator best known in the art world for his innovative work in glass. He also made significant contributions using the medium of ceramics, metal and wood. His easily recognised designs became popular all around the world, and assisted Finland to become a trailblazer in the design field. Marjatta née Svennevig, wife of the late designer, will provide an excellent insight into the family’s private collection of more than 200 pieces of Sarpaneva’s work.
Located in the the Cable Factory, the Design Market is the biggest design stock sale event in the Nordic countries. Held at the beginning of Helsinki Design Week, it takes over the Cable Factory and provides visitors with an opportunity to find items made from Finnish raw materials or reflecting a Finnish theme. (Overnight Helsinki) BL
Day 6: Sunday 8 September, Helsinki
- Villa Ainola: guided tour
- Villa Kokkonen, Järvenpää: guided tour & buffet lunch
- Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Today we begin with guided tour of Villa Ainola. Jean Sibelius and his family moved into this villa in 1904 after it was designed by Lars Sonck according to just two simple requests from the composer: a view of Lake Tuusula and a green fireplace in the dining room. The current appearance of the house is an authentic representation of the house as it was in 1969, when Aino Sibelius passed away there, 12 years after the death of her composer husband. We explore Aino’s garden, sauna and the Sibelius’ tomb.
We next transfer to one of Aalto’s last works, Villa Kokkonen, Järvenpää, designed for the composer Joonas Kokkonen. Completed in 1969, it has been seen as a precursor to Finlandia Hall in Helsinki. The heart of the home is the large study, which was designed around a grand piano, a unique orchestration of architecture, design and music. At Villa Kokkonen we enjoy a buffet lunch.
After lunch we transfer by coach to American architect Steven Holl’s highly controversial 1998 Kiasma Modern Art Museum that exhibits the contemporary art collection of the Finnish National Gallery (founded 1990). Its major goal is to familiarize the population with contemporary art and strengthen its status in Finland. You will have time to assess the building itself as well as to explore its collections and temporary exhibitions and visit the interesting museum shop. (Overnight Helsinki)BL
Jyväskylä - 2 nights
Day 7: Monday 9 September, Helsinki – Lahti – Jyväskylä
- Sibelius Hall, Lahti: guided tour
- Piano Pavilion: guided tour & lunch
- Alvar Aalto’s Church of the Cross: guided tour
Today we depart Helsinki and drive north towards Lahti. We begin our exploration of this town with a visit of Sibelius Hall, a congress and concert centre which was completed in 2000 and is situated by Lake Vesijärvi, in the birthplace of Lahti’s industrial district. The very spacious Forest Hall and the stunning lake scenery create an incredible atmosphere, and as architects Hannu Tikka and Kimmo Lintula explain, the main source of inspiration in the design was Finnish forests. This is the biggest public wooden building to be constructed in Finland in the last 100 years.
Continuing with the wood theme, we visit the Piano Pavilion, built in 2008 from eco-friendly materials and part of the wooden architecture park being built in the area. According to Swedish-born Gert Wingårdh, the building resembles a ship that is about to launch. We have lunch here at the Casseli Restaurant.
We finish our time in Lahti with a visit to Aalto’s Church of the Cross, Lhati (1970-1978), which he described as Gethsemane, a garden of peace at Lhati’s city centre. The church’s brilliant, light-filled interior and excellent acoustics makes a stunning concert space.
The end of the day sees us continuing the drive through Finnish woodlands before we check in to Hotel Yöpuu, a stylish boutique hotel. (Overnight Jyväskylä) BLD
Day 8: Tuesday 10 September, Jyväskylä
- Muurame Church
- Muuratsalo Experimental House
- Saynatsalo Town Hall
- University of Jyväskylä incl. main building with library, Lozzi Restaurant & Training School
- Workers’ club
- Alvar Aalto Museum
Today is filled with visits to Alvar Aalto buildings. With an expert local guide, we venture onto the island of Muuratsalo, which features a typical Finnish mixed forest, with birch and pine predominating. Whilst on the island, we view Aalto’s Experimental House which along with Villa Mairea (visited on day 10) is one of the best examples of Alvar Aalto’s residential architecture.
Other Aalto buildings visited today are Muurame Church (1926-29) and Saynatsalo Town Hall and Workers’ Club (1949-1952). J.M Richards said of the Town Hall in 1978: ‘It is intimate and idiosyncratic, with an unusual layout directly responsive to the genus loci.’ The dark red brick, wood and copper of the buildings, and their abruptly varied roof shapes, seen through closely planted trees, visually link the whole group to the rugged landscape.
We conclude our day with visits to the Aalto Museum and a tour of Aalto’s University of Jyväskylä, including: the main building with library and the Lozzi Restaurant and the training school. In the museum, you will see displays of his architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware, documenting the rapid economic growth and industrialization that Finland experienced during the first half of the 20th century. (Overnight Jyväskylä) BLD
Seinäjoki - 1 night
Day 9: Wednesday 11 September, Jyväskylä – Petäjävesi – Seinäjoki
- Petäjävesi Old Church, Petäjävesi
- Lunch at Hotel Alma
After checking out of Hotel Yöpuu, we drive west towards Seinäjoki with a stop on the way in Petäjävesi, where the Petäjavesi Old Church is located. Built in the 1760s for a small Lutheran parish, it was the town’s main church until 1879 when the new church was built. From the time when the new church started to be used, the old church was completely abandoned and consequently its preservation was ensured due to minimal interference from heating systems and other modifications. In the 1920s, the church was noted by Austrian art historian for its architectural and historical value. Features of the church include the steep pitched roof recalling the Gothic tradition, the interior’s hand-carved log surfaces with their silky patina and the silvery sheen on the seasoned walls, the elaborately carved pulpit, pews, chandeliers, and galleries with balustrades, which are entirely the work of local craftsmen and artists.
Upon arrival in Seinäjoki, we enjoy a nice lunch at Hotel Alma. This refurbished building, just over a century old, was formerly a meeting point for railroad workers. Standing on the Hotel’s terrace, you can view the famous silhouette of Lakeuden Risti, a modern church designed by Alvar Aalto. (Overnight Seinäjoki) BL
Turku - 2 nights
Day 10: Thursday 12 September, Seinäjoki – Noormarkku – Turku
- The Alvar Aalto Centre: guided tour
- Villa Mairea: guided tour
The Aalto Centre in Seinäjoki is an internationally unique architectural complex. It is comprised of six buildings and Kansalaistori – “the Citizens’ Square” – built in 1988. We will see four of the six buildings: Lakeuksien Risti Church, City Hall, the Theatre and the Library. These buildings were all designed by Alvar Aalto; the church, designed by Aalto in response to a competition to find a church for a ‘small but rapidly evolving market town’. Then there is the city hall, whose unique facade of dark blue ceramic tiles, designed by Aalto to be ‘that of the Seinäjoki Hall and of nowhere else’ is characteristic of a more diverse modernistic expression that Aalto developed later in his career.
Next we view the Seinäjoki theatre that Aalto designed in 1968, but was only completed almost 20 years later in 1987 under the supervision of Elissa Aalto. The facade is constructed of ceramic blocks. The airy foyer is furnished with Artek pieces and houses Aalto’s unique collection of bent wood reliefs. We finish the tour of the centre with the library, whose fan-shaped main room is the most striking feature. Light falls through the window slats casting beautiful shapes on the ceiling, walls and shelves. The restored Aalto-designed library was opened in May 2015.
A scenic drive through the sparsely populated Noormarkku region brings us to Villa Mairea, an Alvar Aalto masterpiece of 20th-century architectural design. This villa is representative of the stage in Aalto’s career when he was moving from reduced functionalism to more organic but modern architectural expression in the late 1930s and was built for Maire and Harry Gullichsen, a wealthy and open-minded couple who were friends of Aalto and supporters of art and experimental design. The couple was so supportive of modern design, that whilst the early stages of the building were being completed, they were convinced by Aalto to accept a hurried new project that was based on the concept of a continuous 250 square metre living space. This would accommodate all the collective functions of the house as well as the owner’s art collections. The open living space design was intended to resemble the limitless space of nature. Our guided tour of Villa Mairea is a wonderful addition to the itinerary and participants will be able to see the interior of the house and surrounding grounds.(Overnight Turku) B
Day 11: Friday 13 September, Turku
- Haroma Partners’ Summer Villa, Kustavi
- Guided tour of Paimio Sanatoriuum
- Artek Furniture Factory, Littoinen: guided tour (tbc)
This morning we meet with Haroma Partners, a small architecture firm established in 2004 and winners of ‘house of the day’ in Modern House in 2015. We drive a short distance west of Turku to view the prize-winning Summer Villa by Haroma Partners, a minimalist single-storey house comprised of timber and glass. The house is located in the beautiful province of Kustavi.
On the opposite side of Turku lies Paimio, where Alvar Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium was built as an isolation hospital for tuberculosis patients in the 1920s. Winning an award for the design of this hospital at the age of 30, this design helped Aalto prove himself as an innovative and radical man with a social conscience. The design shows that Aalto had a profound concern for the diverse physical and psychological needs of patients with tuberculosis. Considerable emphasis was laid upon the peacefulness of the environment, hygiene and user comfort as well as humane, sustainable solutions.
HKT Korhonen is a factory founded by Otto Korhonen and was used by Artek Furniture ever since the furniture company was founded by Aalto, his wife Aino, art promoter Maire Gullichsen and art historian Nils-Gustav Hahl in 1935.
The Artek brand has now been purchased by a parent company, Vitra, but the new owners have preserved the link between Artek and the factory, and have maintained production, looking to bring Artek furniture into a more international market. Our visit to the factory in Littoinen will provide insight into the manufacturing process at the factory as well as its rich history. (Overnight Turku) B
Helsinki - 2 nights
Day 12: Saturday 14 September, Turku – Veikkola – Haltia – Hvitträsk – Helsinki
- Eero Aarnio’s House & Studio, Veikkola (TBC)
- Architecture tour of The Finnish Nature Centre, Haltia
- Villa Hvitträsk, Kirkkonummi
We depart Turku and visit Eero Aarnio’s private home and studio to meet this great product designer. Born in 1932, Eero Aarnio is one of the great innovators of modern furniture design. In the 1960s he began experimenting with plastics, vivid colors and organic forms, breaking away from traditional design conventions. His now iconic plastic creations include the Ball (1963), the Pastil (1968), and the Bubble (1968) chairs that echo the pop culture and spirit of their time. Many of Aarnio’s works are included in the world’s most prestigious museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, MoMA in New York and Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein.
Situated 25km outside Helsinki on the edge of Nuuksio National Park, Haltia is a striking model of sustainable architecture. Designed by Lahdelma and Mahlamäki Architects, and inspired by a mythical goldeneye bird from the Finnish epic poem Kalevala, the graceful building won the Finnish Wood Prize in 2013. It is the first public building in Finland built entirely of wood.
We next visit Villa Hvitträsk, built at the beginning of the 20th century, and designed in the National Romantic style. This villa was home to architects Eliel Saarinen and Armas Lindgren, and was visited by esteemed figures such as Jean Sibelius, Axel Gallen-Kallela and Maksim Gorki.
At the end of today we return to Helsinki and check in to Hotel Helka. (Overnight Helsinki) BL
Day 13: Sunday 15 September, Helsinki
- 2 hour Architectural Walking Tour of Helsinki – with Archtours Ltd
- Iittala Flagship Store
- Farewell meal in local restaurant
We begin the last day of the tour with another walking tour of Helsinki with Archtours Ltd. We will get to know the different architectural time layers from Neo-classical to Art Nouveau quarters and to present day glass cubes. Works by several prominent architects will be seen, with the exact route to be confirmed in 2019.
The Iittala Flagship store was designed by Kaj Franck and has served generations of Iittala customers since it first opened in the 1950s. The historic space presents the Iittala collection, along with a wide selection of Arabia products.
We enjoy a farewell meal in a local restaurant. (Overnight Helsinki) BD
Day 14: Monday 16 September, Helsinki
- Airport transfer for those taking the ASA ‘designated’ flight
The tour ends in Helsinki. Participants travelling on the ASA ‘designated’ flight will transfer to the airport to take their flight home to Australia. Alternatively, you may wish to extend your stay in Europe. Please contact ASA if you require further assistance. B