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.”
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.
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.