The Esplanades and their cross streets

Esplanadi

Picture: Visit Finland

The two Esplanades, running west from the Market Square and the South Harbour, act as a magnet for fashion and design outlets:

Marimekko (Mikonkatu 1) is a world-class Finnish brand, founded in 1951 by Armi Ratia. The brand is particularly known for the bold and distinctive textile designs drawn by Maija Isola, such as Unikko, Kaivo, and Lokki.

In the early 1960s, Marimekko was in the international trend vanguard, when style icon Jackie Kennedy took a liking to the Mari prints. 

Artek (Keskuskatu 1 B) is another internationally recognized quality design brand, founded in 1935. One of the founders was architect Alvar Aalto, one of the pre-eminent names in modern architecture.

Aalto’s timeless designs and a rigorous attention to quality have kept Artek furniture and fittings in demand around the world for more than 70 years.

A few years ago Artek started to collect old Aalto chairs from flea markets and wanted to give these classics a new lease on life.

Artek 2nd Cycle (Pieni Roobertinkatu 4–6) sells these iconic second-hand chairs and vintage classics by designers like Charles and Ray Eames, Ilmari Tapiovaara and Arne Jacobsen.

The Iittala Group is a leading homeware design firm and a pioneering name in modern Scandinavian design.

The company’s roots lie in the Iittala Glassworks, where the world-famous Aalto vases are blown (design by Alvar Aalto).

The Iittala store is at Pohjoisesplanadi 25 also the place for top-quality Hackman cookware and cutlery, and the design gift items and tableware from Arabia (for instance Kaj Frank’s Teema collection). 

Nanso is a popular Finnish clothing line. These days it is particularly known for its young designers. Nanso is also a trailblazer in ethical, sustainable fashion, through its Fair Trade cotton collection. The Nanso store is at Mikonkatu 2. 

Vuokko (Korkeavuorenkatu 4) is a clothing brand founded by the celebrated Finnish textile and garment designer Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi.

Vuokko’s clothes represent the classic Finnish design idiom. Before setting up her own company, Eskolin-Nurmesniemi was one of the front-line designers with Marimekko. 

Kalevala Koru / Lapponia Jewelry (Pohjoisesplanadi 25–27) design and manufacture bold and yet timeless jewellery items leaning heavily on Finnish culture and the national epic, Kalevala. The shop is located at a renovated historical block between the Market square and the Senate square. 

Aarikka’s (Pohjoisesplanadi 27) design is famous for its clear Scandinavian lines, round forms and use of wood as primary material.

Aarikka presents two seasonal collections of both home design and beautiful handmade jewellery. 

Boutique Kaarina K. is an outlet specialising in the top names in international fashion for women (such as Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Cartier, and Versace), and is located at Kasarmikatu 25.

Louis Vuitton opened up a magnificent emporium in Helsinki a few years ago, on the corner of Pohjoisesplanadi and Mikonkatu.

The LV-monogrammed bags and trunks of this French luxury fashion and leather goods name are known all over the world.

For luxury eyewear, try Alain Mikli Boutique (Mikonkatu 2). The shop offers “frames to see as wells as to be seen”, as their slogan goes. 

VR 360: Inside a Marimekko store Picture: Thinglink

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