Exploring Helsinki with Finnish
designer Tero Kuitunen

Leaving room for surprises, Finnish designer Tero Kuitunen always succeeds in combining work and play. In terms of titles, Kuitunen doesn‘t like to draw any lines. As well as a product designer he is a spatial designer, sometimes a curator, and in many projects a producer. Changing hats in his work is familiar for Kuitunen. “I consider myself a risk-taker and somehow that feeling of uncer tainty is the place where I feel most comfor table in. I know something is good when I‘m not one hundred percent sure what exactly it will be.”

While Kuitunen allows his works to surprise him, he also leaves room for them to touch and move him, too. Touch is an essential theme in his work, both mentally and physically. Though living in the age of touch screens, it’s digital surfaces that have star ted to overrun our traditional haptic experiences. Kuitunen wants to allow people to feel connected with his works.

Kuitunen‘s own visual language is like a playground void of the restraints imposed by space and time. „I hardly analyse myself, since my work is always driven by intuition. Colours have always played a huge role in my life and adding colour comes quite naturally to me, it‘s almost instinctive.“ One of his signature products, the Fringe mirror, was designed af ter he visited an old fabric store in Spain, which felt like a visit to a candy store. He bought meters of colourful fringes and later on created a mirror that at tracts the viewer to touch its rim. “It‘s interesting how cer tain colours can evoke certain emotions and some colour combinations are like a symbol for a cer tain period in history,” he says.


One of the turning points in his career was the Keskeneräiset Utopiat exhibition he initiated in 2017, in collaboration with artists Raimo Saarinen and Karoliina Hellberg. The exhibition that he held at Kantola, a residence in the town of Kotka designed by Alvar Aalto for the head of the local cellulose factory. The exhibition Kuitunen curated showcased works from these three artists. „I learned a lot from Keskeneräiset Utopiat, my first big project,“ he says. “It was empowering to gather different talents and elements that together created something entirely new.”

Finland is going to be the host country of Vienna Design Week, 2019. Kuitunen has been invited to curate the exhibition, Wild at Heart, showcasing fresh Finnish design. He‘s also in charge of the concept for the exhibition design. „I truly believe that Finnish design always offers the opportunity to create something completely different. „With my work, I want to encourage others to see things from a fresh perspective.“ It‘s this openness and curiosity that inspire Kuitunen‘s City Guide for Helsinki, which is an insider‘s view of the old, new, cosy, colourful and vibrant sites of his hometown.


Fargo is perfect for a relaxed Sunday stroll and discovering unique pieces of furniture—Helsinki has a long tradition of second hand shoppes and flea markets. I like how Fargo has a very cool selection of classic furniture and unique pieces. The atmosphere is very laid-back; you can just go inside to enjoy great design. I mostly go there because of its vibe, although I have used their furniture in a couple of projects I have worked on.

Riviera Kallio

This movie theatre is not just great to see films. Sometimes I just pop by and have cocktails with friends. For the former, I order a nice glass of wine and good food and just relax in the comfy chairs to enjoy the movie. I like Riviera because it of fers visitors a salon-style experience.

Oodi Library

Oodi is like a second living room for the people of Helsinki. You can go to watch movies, loan books, read magazines, or just to have cof fee. We have a long tradition of libraries; people use them quite a lot. Oodi features studios where you can print, laser cut or just work with your laptop on the second floor. As a designer it’s great to know that this is available to you. The third floor, with its high windows and trees, makes it a very special place. Between the bookshelves, you can find pieces of the city’s art collection.

Temppeliaukio Church

When I have international guests, this is one of the first places I take them. It’s special: a subterranean building carved right out of the bedrock, this church proves how eclectic Helsinki’s architectural landscape is. Inside, it always feels peaceful.

Alvar Aalto und Studio Aalto

A few summers ago, I organised an art exhibition in an eighty-year-old factory owner’s house designed by Alvar Aalto. It was a great place to experience art and design. Alvar Aalto is not just a world-famous architect and designer, he is so connected to Finnish people.

Probably every Finnish person has some connection to Aalto’s furniture, architecture, or other objects. His designs always consider humanity and nature. There are many interesting places in Helsinki and throughout Finland that share a connection to Aalto, although the studio where he worked for decades is particularly special. The space feels very organic and tranquil.

Amos Rex

This museum only opened last year. Its architecture is very interesting; how they placed it in a neighbourhood – Lasipalatsi (Glass Palace) – that is quintessential Helsinki. The museum is built underground and is surrounded by huge towers with windows. From inside the museum, they beautifully frame the old Lasipalatsi and of fer a magnificent view. It‘s interesting how in recent years Helsinki has made such great ef for ts to create new cultural sites that are so readily accessible. There used to be a major bus station so all the people coming and leaving to Helsinki used to come through this area.


This space never ceases to inspire me. It’s a concept store and gallery where many of my friends have worked and exhibited. Apar t from their shows, which feature an interesting mix of ar t and design, the shoppe is a great place to find unique gif ts that have been produced locally.

Yes, Yes, Yes

Helsinki’s food scene has become so much more interesting in recent years. It’s experiencing a renaissance. People really care about eating well and enjoying their dining experience. Anybody can open a restaurant here, and hundreds of pop-up restaurants have emerged. At Yes, Yes, Yes, the first thing you notice is the interior: bright colours, a huge heart on the wall, and lots of ar t. The eco-friendly restaurant only serves vegetarian food and uses seasonal ingredients.

Döner Harju

This place exemplifies Helsinki’s new food culture that focuses on high-quality dishes. This is where to go on an empty stomach.

Way Bakery

Recently opened, this place serves great wine with freshly-baked bread. Everything is made by hand, from scratch, and gluten and dairy-free. The menu is simple, but never disappoints. It’s in Kallio, an up-and-coming neighbourhood with many new restaurants, bars, and shops.