In Lapland, a forest isn’t simply a forest. There are always hidden stories, hidden people, hidden places. And in this case – a hidden house. Inside the house is a changing collection which celebrates the designers that have helped Finland, and indeed Scandinavia stand out for its unique style and creativity. But rather than visiting a shop in Helsinki, London or New York, I visited a true corner of wilderness to learn about what really makes these designers think, and do.
Design House Idoli is hidden in the forests of the Lake Inari region of Northern Finland. Its founders and hosts are duo Hanneli and Pekka Sillfors. After a long period in the creative sector in Helsinki, they decided to pack up their things and move to the north of the country. Their vision was to create an atelier for Finnish design which paid homage to its natural surroundings whilst exhibiting the artistry and dedication of their selected design idols. The small timber framed log house is perfectly in step with its forested surrounds, whilst showcasing the pieces of design that Hanneli and Pekka have selected. I enjoyed exploring the works of Finnish textile designer Ritva Puotila – the co-founder of Woodnotes and one of the ‘Idols’. Using recycled textile materials, the Woodnotes pieces are a natural addition to any home (and I simply love my new table mats purchase).
A visit to the House is a learning experience combined with a private viewing opportunity. Their knowledge of design and passion for the works inspires listeners with awe. They are quick to point out that the design pieces value function as much as form. And so we’re presented with perfectly moulded dishes, well balanced furniture and warm, cosy rugs. All of which shout care and dedication, and all of which can become part of your collection after your visit. But before sales are even contemplated, Hanneli and Pekka will invite you outside again to experience the quietness of Ukonjärvi – the southernmost cove of the Lake Inari. At the edge of the lake, a glass igloo awaits its small audience – a perfect spot to talk about the pieces and to share a glass of something fizzy in an Iittala champagne flute. Perhaps the Northern Lights will appear above if you’re lucky.
The experience at Design House Idoli emphasises the closeness of nature and human beings. It wills us to think about not only ways of preserving our natural surrounds, but living positively within them. The designers are skillful at using the materials and form to guard the beauty of nature, rather than to seek to dominate it. A visit to the House is a must for fans of Scandinavian Design and viewings can be arranged as part of your holiday in Finland.