Stories of art history in renovated luxury apartments in Helsinki

The Luotsilinna property in Helsinki’s Katajanokka district provided a magnificent historical setting for photos captured of Finnish Design Shop’s new fine art print collection. Explore this unique, carefully renovated Art Nouveau gem with Design Stories and find out how renowned Finnish artists Albert Edelfelt and Tove Jansson are involved in the story.

Joan Mirón’s Musee d’art Moderne de Paris (Cat-840
Art and design are at home in the cultural and historical environment of Luotsilinna. Joan Miró’s Musee d’art Moderne de Paris (Cat-840) has been accompanied by Jean Prouvé’s Standard chair, Bernard Schottlander’s Mantis floor lamp and a TS desk designed by GamFratesi.

SITUATED CLOSE TO HELSINKI MARKET SQUARE, in the Katajanokka district by the sea, Luotsilinna is an exceptionally perfect specimen of Art Nouveau style, popular in the late 1800s. The castle-like building also shows features of Finnish Jugendstil, but the towers, projections, decorations and window paintings are more romantic and graceful than in other, more grandiloquent Jugendstil houses in Helsinki.

Luotsilinna, completed in 1898, was originally built for residential use, but in recent decades, the property has housed offices. The building underwent extensive renovation to serve its original purpose, and the refurbished five-storied house now includes seven new apartments, with floor areas ranging from 70 to 258 square meters.

One of the apartments in renovated Luotsilinna provided the setting for the photoshoot of Finnish Design Shop's new fine art print collection, launched in March 2021. The collection includes original pieces by internationally acclaimed artists, ranging from Joan Miró to Louise Bourgeois and Antoni Tàpies.

Perry Oliver's Cintas y sombras cruzadas
On the wall of the spacious hall is Perry Oliver’s etching called Cintas y sombras cruzadas. The Eames LTR Occasional table is from Vitra.
Fabio Herrera’s Tres elementos
The colors and shapes of Fabio Herrera’s Tres elementos create a great pair with Hem’s award-winning Puffy lounge chair. The floor lamp is Vitra’s Akari 13A.
Josep Riera i Aragón's ASNC 3
Treasures from the south and north: Josep Riera i Aragón’s ASNC 3, Alvar Aalto’s A808 floor lamp and Børge Mogensen’s 3171 bench form an elegant trio.

Moomin House and the national poet

The design of Luotsilinna property provided the stimulus for collaboration between three renowned Finnish architects: Eliel Saarinen, Herman Gesellius and Armas Lindgren. They were all under 25 years of age at the time, and designed the house for an architectural competition organized by Julius Tallberg, the businessman who owned the plot. Later works by the architecture firm Gesellius-Lindgren-Saarinen include the Finnish pavilion at the 1900 Paris Exposition, the studio home Hvitträsk and the Finnish National Museum.

Over the years, many famous Finns have lived in Luotsilinna, including painter Albert Edelfelt, who is said to have had his studio in the building. Features of Albert Edelfelt’s friends can be seen in the human figures sketched on the side of the chimney in the attic – one bears an uncanny resemblance to Finland’s national poet Eino Leino.

Features of Albert Edelfelt’s friends can be seen in the human figures sketched on the side of the chimney in the attic.

It is also said that artist Tove Jansson, creator of the Moomins, used Luotsilinna’s narrow, round tower as the inspiration for Moomin House. Jansson’s childhood home was located directly opposite Luotsilinna, and at least one drawing by Jansson, depicting the view towards Luotsilinna, has been preserved to this day.

“Luotsilinna is an exceptionally valuable property in terms of cultural history. The renovation required an exceptional will to cherish the old house and preserve it as a unique residential building for future residents and Helsinki citizens alike,” says real estate agent Jenni Paajanen from Bo LKV.

Jim Bird's print A. L. Barcelona '91
Jim Bird’s print A. L. Barcelona '91 has been chosen for the living room wall. The furniture includes String’s Museum side table, Hay’s Bernard lounge chair and Santa & Cole’s Cesta lamp.
Joan Miró's Montroig 1 (Cat-953)
Joan Miró’s Montroig 1 (Cat-953) and Enric Cormenzana’s Jocs a pèl-1 create a dynamic atmosphere in a calmly colored room. The coffee table is Vitra’s Noguchi and the Mags sofa is from Hay.

Full of history and modern solutions

Renovation work began in Luotsilinna in 2017, and all seven apartments were ready for sale by the end of 2020. Originally, all apartments covered an entire floor, but after the renovation, each floor contains one large and one smaller apartment. In addition, there are four business premises at street level.

The renovation of the protected building was carried out in co-operation with Helsinki City Museum.

“The protected parts include, for example, the castle-like street-side façade, the windows and the main stair hall. Luotsilinna features magnificent original, now renovated tin ceilings, old partition doors, fireplaces and window paintings. The aim was to preserve all of these in the course of the renovation,” Paajanen says.

Luotsilinna in Helsinki
Luotsilinna prestige apartments are located in Katajanokka, Helsinki, close to the Market Square, the Gulf of Finland and the marina.
Attic apartment in Katajanokka
Luotsilinna’s attic apartment was built as a so-called space-in-space solution, where the original brick walls, vaulted windows and wooden structures are visible behind the apartment’s exterior walls of glass.
Luotsilinna in Helsinki
“Modern building maintenance technology had to be installed in Luotsilinna, but in strict compliance with the protection order. That required special skill and problem-solving ability,” real estate agent Jenni Paajanen says.
Luotsilinna Helsinki
Luotsilinna is a culturally and historically important conservation site. Helsinki City Museum has classified the stair hall in category 1: an architecturally and historically significant, well-preserved comprehensive work of art.

The decorative suspended ceilings, die-cut on a metal plate, were apparently transported to Luotsilinna all the way from the United States, where this type of ceiling was common at the time. The decorations vary from apartment to apartment.

Luotsilinna’s pearl is the attic apartment of almost 200 square meters, built as a so-called space-in-space solution: the apartment has exterior walls of glass that leave visible the original brick walls, vaulted windows and wooden structures in the attic. The attic surrounding the renovated apartment is a cold space.

“In Luotsilinna, the old meets the new in a grandiose way. The color of the fishbone oak parquet is lovely, and the pattern with edge frames is unique. The partition doors and high skirting boards are stylized, and deep shades of grey and cream have been used on the walls, paired with ceilings in white and wood color. The kitchens and bathrooms are modern. All apartments have high rooms and impressive windows, which create a unique and dignified atmosphere,” Paajanen summarizes.

See also:

In the spotlight: Finnish Design Shop's collection of art prints >
All fine art prints at Finnish Design Shop >
More information about Luotsilinna's apartments >

Text: Nora Uotila Images: Suvi Kesäläinen Styling: Studio Plenty
Bo LKV images: Mikael Pettersson Styling: Paula Jaako

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