Twenty metres of light plywood: as simple as possible, as Finnish as possible. When Susanna Pettersson, the director of the Finnish Institute in London, heard the wishes of Linda Bergroth, the designer of the Institute’s new premises, she did not hesitate. She knew she would ask UPM to provide the plywood.
“I immediately contacted UPM and the answer came back just as quickly as I had contacted them. This is a great example of Finnish cooperation.”
The plywood was shipped from Helsinki to London and now a huge wall of plywood cabinets characterises the newly opened Institute in the trendy King’s Cross area of London. The building’s large windows ensure that the plywood wall can be seen from the street so the material brings a bit of Finland to the neighbourhood that that is also home to companies such as Google and The Guardian. Wood has also been used in the kitchen cabinets and fixtures of the spacious and stylishly minimalistic premises amounting to 250 square metres.
“As an element, wood is a strong statement from Finland. The plywood wall tells passers-by something about Finnishness and the history of Finnish design and architecture.”
Susanna Pettersson can be proud of the country she represents. The themes promoted by the Institute –Finnish architecture, modern art and design, social sciences and learning and education – all evoke interest in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland as well as in the rest of the world.
“Finland has a good reputation and it is easy for us to present topical and functional Finnish systems,” Susanna Pettersson says.
The Institute was founded in 1989 and the main reason for its existence is very down-to-earth: increasing the wellbeing of people. Everyone is better off when society functions properly and people can draw from a rich cultural heritage.
“We feel that the Institute is a so-called ‘think and do tank’ and our activities promote interaction between Finland, the UK and the Republic of Ireland.”
There are a total of 17 Finnish Institutes around the world, similar to the one in King’s Cross, and the Finnish Institute in London cooperates closely with them in connection with various research projects and events. Susanna Pettersson and the directors of the other Institutes have summarised their work in four words: a more interesting Finland.
“We are all experts on Finnish science and culture. We want to work together to improve the visibility of Finnish know-how and find a foothold for Finnish art and science.”
The new premises of the Finnish Institute in London can be admired at Unit 1, 3 York Way, King’s Cross, London.
Text by Henna Helne
Photos by Kim Varstala / The Finnish Institute in London