Enticing Helsinki design store Lokal

From ceramicists and jewellers to coffee roasters and artists, this Scandi shop champions homegrown talent

Katja Hagelstam
Katja Hagelstam | Image: © Anna Riikonen

The sign on the door reads “78% art, 22% coffee”. It’s a ratio that makes for an enticing space in the heart of Helsinki’s design district, where, a stone’s throw from the design museum, photographer Katja Hagelstam curates a shop-cum-gallery-cum-café that combines exquisite handmade-in-Finland goods and artworks with coffee from local roasters Helsingin Kahvipaahtimo – served up in mugs by ceramicist Nathalie Lahdenmäki.

Lokal was brought into being in 2012 to promote homegrown talent. “Many of the country’s design companies now produce their pieces elsewhere; this is really sad for our heritage,” explains Hagelstam. “We have lots of talented designers and I wanted to give them somewhere to showcase their work. I go to people’s studios to select stuff I really like: handmade, small-series pieces in which you can feel the quality and handwork.”

Image: © Anna Riikonen

The result is shelf upon shelf of covetable pieces to adorn the chicest dining tables, desks and décolletages. Ceramics are a strong point; those chic and delicate (yet pleasingly dishwasher-safe) mugs (from €28), bowls (from €30) and plates (from €22) by Lahdenmäki sit alongside Jatta Lavi’s white porcelain jugs (from €38), crafted in the shape of old-fashioned milk cartons. There are tactile oval boxes (from €50) by Bo-Åke Ljungars, made from braided birch, alder and goat willow – “a traditional Finnish craft” – and fragrant poplar Plo candle holders (from €35) by Jouko Kärkkäinen, while Iina Vuorivirta’s angled, copper-framed Vino mirror (€170) is as much art as furniture.

The Lokal jewellery selection displays a similar variety of materials, from silver to horsehair, which is made into tassel-like pendants and earrings (from €89) in Annea Lounatvuori’s Pony range. London-based Finnish designer Klaus Haapaniemi works mostly in textiles, creating folklore-inspired patterns on cushions and throws, but also brooches (from €165) embroidered with silk threads and sequins on fabric and leather. And Tuamarika’s rough-hewn rings (from €135) come in precious metals as well as patinated copper, brass and bronze.

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Complementing the intriguing wares is a series of art exhibitions, with an emphasis on photography. In addition to Hagelstam’s nature-focused works, such as the atmospheric RÖD (from €220), taken in Lapland, there are prints by Ananya Tanttu, Hagelstam’s 22-year-old daughter, and advertising-turned-documentary photographer Charlotta Boucht, whose Waiting (from €225) depicts a still and quiet morning at Phewa Lake in Pokhara, Nepal.

“Last month there was a show called Growth,” adds Hagelstam, “which featured a plaster sculpture [€2,400] of a small girl playing by Lotta Mattila, as well as folded and pleated textile art [€4,200] by Deepa Panchamia.” Given this eclectic mix, it’s little wonder that Hagelstam has recently been asked to curate the Helsinki Art Museum shop – or that Lokal attracts a loyal following of design enthusiasts, from architects and stylists to Nordic chef Sami Tallberg and Elton John. “He bought a multicoloured glass sculpture by Renata Jakowleff for his collection,” says Hagelstam.

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