Designer Marianne Huotari's Christmas is based on beloved traditions, a self-felled Christmas tree and the tinkling of angel chimes. Huotari picked five timeless gift ideas from Finnish Design Shop for lovers of Finnish and Scandinavian design.
MARIANNE HUOTARI, what is your funniest Christmas memory?
“We have very steady Christmas traditions with family and relatives in the wilderness of Kainuu in north-eastern Finland. We all meet at my grandparents’ home, where we can enjoy a bath in a wood-fired sauna, followed by delicious food and relaxing by spending time together.
I have departed from this pattern only twice. I spent one Christmas on a sandy beach with my spouse, and it certainly was a very different Christmas – we had a small paper tree and enjoyed a fish dinner in the middle of the jungle. The second time was with the family in Kainuu, but in a ski resort cabin. That Christmas was so freezing cold that any outdoor activities were out of the question. Somehow, heating of the sauna failed and I ended up sitting in the cold sauna, and of course, Santa arrived right then, earlier than expected. Nobody laughed at the time, but now we know why we stick so firmly to our traditions.”
How do you decorate your home for Christmas?
“We only have a few Christmas decorations at home, which we've been given as presents, because we are usually away from home for the holidays. In fact, I don’t much care for holiday decorations in my own home, but I really enjoy them when someone else has put up seasonal decorations in their home. Instead of decorating, I focus on the Christmas feeling, burning candles and enjoying some mulled wine.
In my grandparents' house, there are a couple of essential Christmas decorations without which Christmas does not feel like Christmas: the red paper star in the kitchen window, the Christmas tree felled from their own forest and little elves, crafted by my parents when they were children, hung on the Christmas tree. And then the tinkling angel chimes, which create a peaceful atmosphere for Christmas Eve evening.”
Where will you celebrate this Christmas?
“I will be faithful to traditions again this Christmas – I will pack my warmest clothes and head up to Kainuu with my family. Since there has been snow and frost every Christmas, the scenery is like a postcard. This time, it will be just the family, and I hope my granddad will also be able to come and spend Christmas with us.”
Marianne Huotari's Christmas gift picks:
To an everyday aesthete
“Artek's Riihitie plant pot is a definite gift idea for anyone who appreciates the aesthetics of everyday items. The pot, designed by Aino Aalto, is fascinating in its individual form, and particularly the special color from Finnish Design Shop's 15th anniversary collection, matt linen, would end up in my gift wrappers.”
To a friend of patterns
“Any friend of patterns would be delighted by the Atrium rug I designed for Finarte, which invites you to touch it and lie down. The rug, made from soft tufted wool and luxuriously reflective viscose, brings a touch of southern European arches and marble courtyards to the home. This rug catches the eye and is like a piece of art in your home.”
To my friend
“To a friend, I would give the Maja vase, designed by Saija Halko for the LOKAL x FDS collection. The vase is ingenious and melts hearts with its earthy colors.”
To my Japanese friends
“The book The Red Thread: Nordic Design, published by Phaidon, is a deep insight into the secrets of Nordic design. A perfect gift for my Japanese friends, who are interested in the Nordic lifestyle and design.”
“I prefer practical gifts. For my own home, I would buy Marimekko's Unikko duvet cover, as my linen sheets, used for many years, are worn out. In the past, I used to say no thanks, no more Unikko for me, but the new, successful colors make the pattern, a staple in Finnish interiors, topical and interesting again.”