Forest as far as the eye can see, dotted with lakes here and there. The flat lines of the landscape unfold
outside the car window—all skies and forests.
About 80% of the Finnish terrain is made up of forests and lakes, with the land people living on making
up the remaining 20%. The relationship with the surrounding natural environment is thus part and parcel
of daily life for the people of Finland. During the midnight suns of summer, the Finnish move to cottages
outside the city to delight in the forests with family and friends, forgetting about the constraints of time.
During the long, dark winters, homes are lit with candles, and leisurely hours are spent in conversation
The Finnish name for the country is “Suomi”. The Suomi people live close to nature and know ways
in order to enjoy living there. The sauna, for example, is an essential part of Finnish life. The hut for a
traditional smoke sauna takes hours to heat. While this is taking place, sauna-goers prepare bundles
of white birch leaves and branches called vihta. The sauna room is ready when smoke from the wood
stove begins to escape from the small vent. In the sauna room, the faint scent of burnt wood lingers,
and everyone sings together in close companionship. “Löylyä lissää! Löylyä lissää! Lissää löylyä
kiukaaseen!” (“More steam! More steam! Throw more steam on the stove!”) While gently hitting their
bodies with a vihta bundle, they work up a great sweat. When the heat becomes too much, everyone
would jump into a lake or river to cool off and hydrate by drinking berry juice or beer while sitting in front
of the sauna hut indulging in friendly conversation.
Sitting amid the coniferous trees of the forest, the Finnish people chat with family and friends regardless
of age and gender. This is what it means to live as a part of nature.
In Finland, anyone walking through the forests
can pick nature’s bounties such as fruits and
mushrooms which are readily available, as
people believe in the right to share nature’s
blessings. In summer, berries are picked and
eaten for breakfast and dessert. They are frozen
whole or made into homemade jams and juices,
which are kept in storage containers so these
can be enjoyed even during the long winters.
Originally from the Karelia region, Karjalanpiirakka pies are now eaten throughout the country. The
dough, made from rye, wheat flour, salt and water, is kneaded and rolled out into palm-sized oval
shapes using a rolling pin made of white birch. Milk porridge fillings are placed in the centre of the
dough; the sides are folded to the centre and crimped before being placed in the oven. Straight out
of the oven, the piirakka are brushed with a mixture of melted butter and hot water for a golden glaze.
The pies are eaten with munavoi, a mixture of butter and hardboiled eggs coarsely mashed while
|Designed for the User
Simple, easy-to-wash forms that are stackable to conserve space—traditional Finnish tableware
were designed to serve minimal specific functions, and families would purchase new items as their
In an era when an item, like a soup bowl, was typically designed to serve a single function, Finnish
designer Kaj Franck designed pieces that could be used for multiple purposes. It took time before the
Finnish people accepted the ideas of simplicity and versatility in tableware, but as the years passed
and lifestyles changed, today’s multipurpose pieces became the standard.
On the banks of the Lapua River stands a
weaver’s mill, which at more than 100 years
old, 17 looms are still in continuous operation.
Located near the local library and museum,
people from the community often stop by to sit
and chat at the mill. This is a family mill now run
by Esko and Jaana Hjelt, the fourth generation of
the same family. Their teenage sons are around
to help during their summer vacations—a sign
that the warmth of this small family-run business
will continue on.
At the red brick linen mill, weavers craft towels
and mats made mostly from linen for use in
Finnish saunas. The mill also fills numerous
customised orders from hospitals and other
public institutions. Even the towels used in the
sauna at the Parliament House are made by this
factory. This adds to the fact that there actually
is a sauna there is itself uniquely Finnish.
Metal is used to make everyday items from large measuring cups used in the markets to ladles and
buckets used in the sauna and containers to hold mosquito coils in the forest. At the metalsmithing
workshop inherited from his father, Esa Åkerman makes even all of the tools used to craft these items
himself. At the peak of the industry, the area was home to around 50 small metalsmiths, but today this
number has fallen to just two. Each metal item is crafted by hand and put to practical everyday use.
Pirtanauha pieces are worn with traditional Finnish clothing. “Pirta” refers to a comb-like tool used in
weaving, while “nauha” refers to a strap or cord. National costumes in Finland are adorned with an
array of richly diverse patterns that vary by region and are kept alive in the traditional local patterns
still seen today. In some regions, the traditional dress features a decorative key hanging from the
waist which symbolises the role of protecting the household.
|Woven Pine Basket
These pine baskets function as shopping baskets, magazine racks, closet storage, or for receiving
newspaper deliveries. Years of use would see the baskets gradually turn into a deeper caramel colour.
||Found MUJI PMQ
S107, Block A, PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central. Tel: 3971 3138
Sun-Thu 12:00 - 20:00
Fri-Sat & Eve of Public Holiday 12:00 - 21:00