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To say Nordic style is having a moment would be an understatement. Crime novels by Jo Nesbø and Henning Mankell and noir television series like “The Bridge” and “The Killing” are gaining popularity, as are shops like Cos, Marimekko, and Acne. Copenhagen’s Noma was the capstone of the foraged food phenomenon, voted best restaurant in the world four times in five years, and that’s not to mention the hygge craze.
With the whole world going mad for Nordic style, how does a hotel in Helsinki embody something uniquely Finnish in Finland? “Everything is based on the unique Finnish culture and language,” says architect Sami Horto. “We wanted to honour our Finnish roots, legacy, and values and use them as a basis for our designs.”
Although Finland is considered a Nordic nation alongside the Scandinavian countries—Sweden, Norway, and Denmark—and Iceland, most Finns pride themselves on what makes different from their neighbours. The Hotel Indigo Helsinki – Boulevard, located on a historical boulevard in the city’s design district, has an impressive legacy to fulfil. By focusing on inspirations taken from the hotel’s immediate vicinity, and by curating furniture and ceramics by Finnish designers, the architects and interior designers have created something very much of its place.
Images by: @hotelindigohelsinki
The first challenge was to transform the space, a former office building, into a contemporary hotel befitting its historical environment. The architects first stripped the property back to its 1960s concrete frame. Then, they added a new zinc-plated façade, handmade by 73-year-old local craftsman Esko Kivi, who was awarded Helsinki’s Rose of Construction award for his work. It is the feature of which Horto says he is most proud. “We wanted to create a strong relief on the side of the building facing the Bulevardi Street,” he says. “The zinc façade is a real masterpiece of skill and craftsmanship. It is truly one of a kind.”
Inside, the hotel has 120 rooms arranged over eight floors above the boardroom, the sports gym, and Bröd, the in-hotel restaurant and bar. “We decided to make the hotel as cosy and warm as possible,” says Horto. “We wanted it to feel like a second home.” Interior designer Markus Eskola create this effect with an understated Nordic colour palette and informal furniture that includes bookshelves and barstools.
Image by: @hotelindigohelsinki
Eskola also incorporated oversized graphic artwork by local artists Linda Linko and Pietari Posti as well as carefully considered details such as Minna Parikka shoes and Iittala ceramics in glass box-frames in the bedrooms to ensure the uniquely Finnish thread runs right through the hotel. And, of course, there’s the traditional Finnish sauna, which is somewhat of a national pastime.
Horto and Eskola have pulled out all the stops to create a uniquely Finnish atmosphere. True to form, as well, there’s even “Mähöne underwear sold in the reception!” laughs Horto.