The Finnish Museum of Photography’s exhibition space K1, accompanied by a museum shop and a restaurant, is located on the bottom floor of the Kämp Galleria shopping mall in central Helsinki. At street level is the Gasm Café & Bar, the heart of the mall.
IN 2018, Kämp Garden, designed by Futudesign, was opened on the top floor of the Kämp Galleria shopping mall. Emphasizing responsibility and communality, its success is proof positive that there is public demand for new kinds of experiences in shopping malls.
According to Futudesign’s interior architects Auvo Lindroos and Sara Syvähuoko, the new era in shopping malls is also clearly evident elsewhere, especially in Asia, where a wide variety of other functions and services have been introduced to malls in addition to stores. Shopping malls that offer a wider range of experiences are more likely to attract customers who now do more of their shopping online than in physical stores. Cultural and other experiences contribute to making shopping malls enjoyable places to spend longer periods of time.
Working with the property owner, the insurance company Ilmarinen, the Futudesign design agency began to consider how the underground floor of Kämp Galleria could be put to the best possible use. They outlined different kinds of event operations that could support the other functions of the mall. When the Finnish Museum of Photography was brought into the discussions, the plans really began to take shape.
“The property owner and the Finnish Museum of Photography both had the boldness to embark on a project in the city center and shopping mall environment, which is normally a foreign environment for museums,” Lindroos tells about the project.
As natural light is rarely a desirable element in exhibition spaces, the underground floor was perfect for the museum.
“A visit to the museum runs from the lobby to the exhibition spaces and from there directly through the museum shop to The Glass restaurant, run by Jarkko Myllymäki and Yrjänä Raitanen. We designed the space to have no unclear routes or dark corners,” Syvähuoko says.
As natural light is rarely a desirable element in exhibition spaces, the underground floor was perfect for the K1 museum.
The ticket desk resembles a camera lens in tone and shape, and the museum’s movable hanging walls bring to mind an unspooled reel of film.
The unusual location of the museum, called K1, has aroused interest. “All the operations in the mall are of an excellent standard, with simply first-class products and services. The new setting has received an enthusiastic reception,” says Lindroos.
Kämp Galleria's street-level Gasm Café & Bar opened at the same time as the premises on the K1 floor.
“Gasm acts as the heart of the mall, located at its center and serving the diverse customer base. A timeless but warm and invigorating setting was created using a well-chosen range of shades and materials. It features real wood and subdued and broken colors. The café creates an appealing contrast to the exhibition area, but does not clash in appearance with the other parts of the overall premises, such as Kämp Garden. Each operator in the shopping mall has their own individual character, and the different parts all complement each other,” Syvähuoko says.
The furniture for Gasm was supplied by Finnish Design Shop’s Contract Sales. According to Customer Relations Coordinator Harri Herrala, the project went smoothly from start to finish. Herrala was especially impressed with the customer’s open-mindedness in furniture choices for the interior design. The café was furnished with top-quality items, some of which were ordered with customized colors and upholstery.
“The street-level café raises the profile of the entire premises wonderfully,” Herrala says. “Kämp Galleria’s property owner clearly has a keen interest in investing in the preservation and development of the premises as an attractive destination. The operators of the mall, for their part, are highly entrepreneurial and have a true passion for their work.”
Text: Hanna-Katariina Mononen Images: Riikka Kantinkoski and Tuomas Uusheimo