The small cottage on the island of Högsåra is Rasmus and Alexandra’s home base for the summer

In the summer, designer Rasmus Palmgren and art historian Alexandra Enberg live and work on the idyllic island of Högsåra. To serve as their home base, they built an about 20-sqm cabin for which Rasmus designed the broad outlines and the interior.

Rasmus Palmgren and Alexandra Enberg
The seaside end of the building features patio-wide steps that provide easy access to the rock. The steps are also nice to sit and lounge on. Guests usually come to the steps to chat.

WHEN THE FRAME of Rasmus Palmgren and Alexandra Enberg’s summer cabin was being brought to the rocky shore, the prefabricated building unit was first loaded onto a barge on the other side of the Högsåra island, then transported by sea to the nearby cove and finally lifted ashore by a crane. Then, a tractor was needed to pull the solid-wood element built on steel runners over the rock to its place at the edge of the forest.

“The cabin is designed to minimize the impact on nature. For example, the building has no fixed foundations, so it can be moved. The frame of the cabin is a new kind of prefabricated solid-wood building unit developed by an acquaintance of ours. This cabin is one of the prototypes, and I got the chance to modify it to our needs at an early stage,” explains Rasmus.

Interior of Rasmus Palmgren's summer cabin
In the cabin, everything takes place in a single room. The small iron stove and storage furniture designed by Rasmus divide the around 20-sqm space into different functions.
Rasmuksen suunnittelema pöytä, penkki ja tuoleja
Most of the furniture in the cabin is designed by Rasmus. The table and bench are made for the space and accompanied by Inno’s Whippy folding chair. There is also a light Tool chair, made of wood and molded plywood, currently manufactured by Danish Takt.
Rasmus Palmgren looking to the sea
Nature is constantly present inside the cabin, since both ends are made up of sliding glass doors. This way, it is easy to step out onto the patio, and when the weather is good, the whole wall can be opened.

The couple chose the spot for the cabin very carefully. Alexandra, who grew up on Högsåra and knows the island like the back of her hand, knew the perfect spot right away. The cabin rests on a rock by the sea. It is accompanied by a high hilltop overlooking the vast archipelago, all the way to the islets and open sea. The nearby bay, on the other hand, has a sandy beach, so it is easy to go for a swim from the cabin. From time to time, the bay also gets waves suitable for surfing.

The nearby bay has a sandy beach, so it is easy to go for a swim from the cabin.

Högsåra is located in the south-west corner of Finland and accessed via Finland’s second largest island, Kimito. It takes a ten-minute ferry ride to reach the old, idyllic village. It looks like something from another era or straight from Astrid Lindgren’s Life on Seacrow Island.

“The village still has over 40 year-round inhabitants. In the summer, this place gets much busier because of the summer residents, guest marina and the summer restaurant run by my family, Farmors Café, which turns thirty this summer. At peak times, the restaurant gets about 500 customers a day,” says Alexandra.

Summer house kitchen
The cabin has a small kitchen equipped with a gas fridge and stove. The second-hand stainless-steel countertop and its metal legs nicely balance out all the wood.
HAY PC Portable lamp
HAY's rechargeable PC Portable lamp brings light both indoors and outdoors.
Lokal Helsinki, Tyyni tray
The Tyyni tray, designed by Rasmus, is part of Lokal Helsinki's collection.
Summer cabin on the seashore in Finland
There is a spot for a dining set on the rocky shore. The cabin is designed to leave the surrounding environment as untouched as possible.

Alexandra and Rasmus are an integral part of the family’s restaurant business, and they move to the island for the summer well in advance. When the season begins, they work both in the kitchen and front of house.

“Our summer cabin is not built for rest and relaxation, but to serve as a home base where we sleep and recover after working at the restaurant. In the summer, we rarely have time to just ‘veg out’. Nevertheless, we really enjoy our time at the cabin, since it’s quite something to start the day by having a laid-back breakfast while admiring the open sea through the window. Of course, on our days off and outside the restaurant season, we also get to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature and just relax.”

“Our summer cabin serves as a home base where we sleep and recover after working at the restaurant.”

For the other half of the year, the couple lives in Copenhagen. Rasmus, who has studied carpentry at Malmstens Linköping University near Stockholm and furniture design at The Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen, is focusing on his own design studio. Alexandra, who has studied art history, works as a project manager at the Finnish Cultural Institute in Denmark.

Blue Tool folding chair by Inno
The blue Tool folding chair designed by Rasmus is currently manufactured by Finnish Inno. At the cabin, it serves as a handy spare seat both indoors and on the patio.
HAY's green Bernard lounge chair
The twenty-square-meter cabin has everything you might need in the summer. Only carefully selected items and furniture are brought to the cabin to avoid making the space congested. The Bernard lounge chair is by HAY.
Form & Refine's Pillar storage box
The wooden Pillar storage box by Danish Form & Refine is handy for neatly storing clothing and objects.
Rasmus Palmgren
Most of the furniture in the cabin is designed by Rasmus and consists of both models already in production and prototypes under development.

The cabin has given the carpenter/designer the opportunity to try out new ideas. Rasmus has designed, for example, the cabin’s roof pitch and window solutions and chosen the surface materials. He has also designed most of the cabin’s fixtures. “I guess this is some kind of a designer’s laboratory,” says Rasmus.

The interior of the small cabin is simple and compact. Everything takes place in a single room with no partitions dividing the space. Instead, the space is divided into different functions with cabinets and a small iron stove.

The interior of the small cabin is simple and compact. Everything takes place in a single room.

“Since the cabin is quite small, we’ve had to think carefully about every solution and every item brought in here. Despite the amount of space it takes, we wanted a big bed, as a good night’s sleep is a priority for us. We also wanted a kitchen to have a quiet place to eat after all the hustle and bustle of the restaurant,” says Rasmus.

A summer cabin with a big window
The cabin is cleverly positioned in the landscape, so that it is on the rock by the sea yet sheltered by the forest.
A bed in a summer cabin
The frame of the bed and the storage shelf show the character and color variations of the wood. They are both designed and made by Rasmus, who is also a professional carpenter.
Wooden interior of a summer cabin
Rasmus got to design the surface materials, fixtures and window solutions. Since all the surfaces are wooden, the atmosphere in the cabin is cozy despite the minimalist interior.
A detail of the summer cabin
The details of the summer cabin are beautifully finished. The cabin does not have fixed foundations, making it movable if necessary.
Rasmus and Alexandra walking to the beach
In front of the cabin, there is a handsome rock and a sandy beach for swimming.

Even though there are not that many square meters, the cabin still feels spacious, as both ends are made up of windows. They give a view of the stunted pine forest typical of the archipelago and the sea that seems to be constantly moving. At the ends, behind large sliding doors, there are patios on the same level as the floor, so weather permitting, it easy to go enjoy cabin life outdoors.

“For this cabin, I made furniture that also contains storage space. For example, the drawer under the double bed and the bench in the dining area can be used to store a surprisingly large amount of stuff.”

Rasmus and Alexandra have been using the cabin as their home base for three summers, during which time the interior has been honed to perfection. “Now that everything’s completed, I’ve started to think about what’s next, perhaps a sauna building or something else,” says Rasmus and smiles.

Get inspired

PC Portable
Form & Refine
Pillar box
Bernard lounge chair
Flower vase
Lokal Helsinki
Tyyni tray
Palissade sofa
9090 coffee maker
Merrow pillowcase

See also:

More designs by Rasmus Palmgren >

Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Images: Niclas Mäkelä

This story was originally published in the Asun magazine’s issue 48.

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