Furniture by Eero Saarinen and Charles & Ray Eames brings a refreshing dose of 1950s modernism to the newly renovated cafeteria of the Finnish media house A-lehdet. Created with an eye for quality, the interior is clearly intended to stand the test of time.
FEW COMPANIES CAN offer employees the chance to enjoy their daily lunch around marble tables designed by Eero Saarinen. The newly renovated cafeteria and lobby of the A-lehtitalo building in Kulosaari, Helsinki, are dominated by Vitra and Knoll's iconic furniture, subdued Nordic tones, and the waves of the sea visible through the building’s large windows.
As the cafeteria sees heavy traffic on a daily basis, the space needed to become more functional in order to accommodate the large quantity of customers. The new decor has also importance in that the media house's lobby and cafeteria serve as the public face of both A-lehdet and Finnish Design Shop, which has its office on the same premises.
“An inspiring milieu is essential to a media house! It matters what kind of furniture and objects surround us on a daily basis.”
“An inspiring milieu is essential to a media house! It matters what kind of furniture and objects surround us on a daily basis. We wanted our customers and staff to experience Finnish Design Shop's Pieces of Nordic Happiness slogan in practice,” says Anne Lyytikäinen-Palmroth, Publisher at A-lehdet.
The seating in the cafeteria consists of modernist treasures from the 1950s: Tulip chairs designed by Eero Saarinen in 1956 and Wire DKX chairs designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1951. A sense of cozy softness is provided by built-in sofas commissioned for the space. During the summer, employees can also have their lunch on the shoreline terrace built in the previous summer, sitting on Hay’s Palissade outdoor furniture.
“Separate seating groups make the space more versatile and interesting.”
“Separate seating groups make the space more versatile and interesting. The goal was a fresh facility fitter for its purpose, with material selections matching those already in place,” says interior architect Kristiina Kaitala of the Kakadu agency, which participated in the design.
The materials are a refined combination of natural-looking, light-colored wooden floors, and the industrial touch brought by the glass fiber and metal chairs. The black seats of the chairs and the round, white marble tops of the Tulip tables add a dash of luxury to the decor, and the final touch to the cafeteria’s interior is given by artworks by the Finnish artist artist Marika Mäkelä.
The lobby of the A-lehtitalo building was furnished with some of Vitra's highlights from the new millennium: Antonio Citterio's Suita leather sofas designed in 2010 and Jasper Morrison's Cork stools from 2004. The large, bright lamps are by the Dutch brand Moooi. Most of the new furniture was acquired through Finnish Design Shop's Contract Sales.
“The cafeteria had begun to show its age, the decor being reminiscent of a canteen from the 1990s. The cafeteria’s ambience is now in keeping with that of the Kulosaari district,” says Juha-Matti Haavisto, Contract Sales Manager from Finnish Design Shop, referring to the dignified character of the area known for its old villas and embassies.
Haavisto points out that the staff of Finnish Design Shop have been particularly delighted with the renovation. Meetings can now be held in a more elegant setting, and the new furniture lifts the everyday experience of the company's staff – a workday lunch surrounded by iconic furniture of this level is a rare treat, even for employees of a webstore specialized in design.
Text: Nora Uotila Images: Timo Villanen