Discovering the Finnish treasures Part II: Stockmann and Marimeko!

I still enjoy the sublime vision: cookies stuffed with chocolate and cream, different types of cakes with swirls in front of those fridges and I look like the wolf Ezekiel looking hungrily at the three little pigs! Just watching millions chocolates lined up I gained 10 pounds! As I leave with that place with a heavy heart, waving the napkin that contained the chocolates like I was saying goodbye to my lover. Fredrick takes me to Stockmann, a big shopping center similar to the Galleries La Fayette. Fredrick realized that if he wanted me to leave a place like the chocolate shop, the only thing that can do so (and lift my spirits) is taking me shopping!

The Gallery was founded in 1862 by the German Gustav Stockmann, and besides Helsinki, it can also be found in major cities in Finland, like Oulu to Turku, in shopping centers such as Jumbo in Vantaa and other Baltic countries such as in Latvia, Estonia and Russia. Stockmann is not only a place for shopping, but it established as the Finnish brand par excellence. Its products are all more expensive than the average but, actually, the best class and fine workmanship are found here.

Located at the intersection Mannerheimintie and Aleksanterinkatu , It’s located in the heart of Helsinki. It was completed in 1930 and is currently the largest department store in the Nordic countries. Since the escalators in Stockmann were the first in Finland, the Stockmann logo, shaped like the letter “S”, covers the escalators. It is a huge building, with seven floors of shopping, containing all kinds of the articles of high class and bars, including the ubiquitous national brands of Marimekko, Iittala and Arabia.
It also has an underground tunnel that connects the building Kirjatalo (designed by Alvar Aalto), where Akateeminen Kirjakauppa, which is the largest library in Finland is. On the other side of the tunnel connects the Stockmann shopping center Forum. Stockmann is definitely one of the favorite destinations of tourists. In fact, the fifth floor is devoted to souvenirs, including Finnish hats, flags, reindeer, and books about Finland. As we climb to the third floor, the plan is for things for the house, and where Marimekko, a famous brand from Finland can be found. Markus, the Fredrick friend who I met at dinner, has his house signed “Marimekko” and even says that it is affordable!
Marimekko, a Finnish company, was founded in 1951 by Armi Ratia and Viljo and had its heyday in the ’60s and ’70s, thanks to the bright colors and simple styles. After the former’s oilcloth factory project failed and was converted to a garment plant, Armi asked some artist friends to apply their graphic designs to textiles. In order to show how the fabric can be used, the company has also designed and sold a line of simple dresses. After rapid detection of fashion as art and industrial, Marimekko, thanks to the designer Timo Sarpaneva, was set to be introduced in a fashion show at the Triennale in 1957 Milan. Although the show was cancelled on short notice the garments were eventually showcased in the nearby Rinascente, a upscale department store, and under its then store display manager Giorgio Armani . It was because of this that Marimekko became the leading brand in Finland. After Italy, Marimekko was introduced in the United States by the architect Benjamin C. Thompson. Jacqueline Kennedy bought eight Marimekko dresses that she would wear during the 1960 presidential campaign in the United States. Currently you can find shops located in the United States in New York; Cambridge, Massachusetts; Oxford, Mississippi; Miami, Florida and in Vancouver, British Columbia. By September 2011 there were 84 stores around the world. Despite it’s expensive price tag it is a must for the Finns and everyone has it’s name somewhere in their home along with items from the littala brand and Murano glass, neither of these are by no means cheap!
Iittala was founded in 1881 by a Swede named Petrus Magnus Abrahamsson. Due to the lack of skilled glassmakers of Finland, the labor force was originally from Sweden. One of the products of interest include a Alvar Aalto vase, which is said to imitate the Finnish coast. Aino Aalto has set the bar for modern glass with its exclusive line of glasses, which are still in production today. Other artists have been part of Iittala, introducing their unique visions for the aesthetics of Scandinavian glass. Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva, and Oiva Toikka were all a part of iittala, being one of the forerunners in the world of modern design. Today iittala continues to create glassware that is as attractive as it is functional. The brand includes a wide range of glassware, pottery and works of art that continue to push the boundaries in the name of talent. In my opinion the Finns are either so filthy rich that the price means nothing or you are with a spendthrift!