Apr 8, 2016

MCM auction at Helander

Heads up if you happen to be in Helsinki this weekend! Helander Auction House will host an MCM auction on Sunday, April 10th.

Of course we went through the list right away when it was published. There are quite a few interesting items to be auctioned, and here are some of our picks. Rather focused on glass- and tableware his time - no wonder, many of them are made by the Finnish masters, Tapio Wirkkala, Kaj Franck and Alvar Aalto.

So, here is what we chose:

948. Juice set by Saara Hopea
The beautiful set consists of 8 drinking glasses and a pitcher placed in a willow basket with a rattan-woven handle. It was designed by a Finnish designer Saara Hopea and manufactured by Nuutajärvi glass factory in 1952, and was in production in 1952 - 1968. The drinking glasses won a silver medal in Milano Triennale 1954.

996. Signed vase by Alvar Aalto
A legendary Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino Aalto designed the Savoy vase (also known as Aalto vase) as a part of a competition for Iittala in 1936. It has been in production since 1937 (this ruby red vase to be auctioned was made in 1991), and the same year it was also displayed in the Paris World Fair. Originally, Savoy vase was part of the interior design of Savoy Restaurant in Helsinki, which was also designed by Aalto.

1065. Wall mirror by Alvar Aalto
Alvar Aalto designed the 192A mirror (120 cm x 50 cm) in 1939, and it is currently manufactured by Artek. The mirror frame of this particular piece is made of birch. We lack a full size mirror in upstairs, which is far from ideal and the 192A mirror would be the perfect size for the hallway in upstairs. But is birch too light, should we search for one made of teak instead?

1075. Kartio drinking glasses by Kaj Franck
Kaj Franck designed the stackable Kartio glass for Iittala in 1958. Franck, who was Iittala's head designer for several years was interested in creating objects for daily use shedding all decorations and aiming for durability and functionality. This set of six coloured drinking glasses is auctioned with their original container.

1242. Glassware byt Tapio Wirkkala
The design of Ultima Thule glassware was inspired by the Northern winter and ice. Tapio Wirkkala, another one world recognized Finnish designer is one of our favourites as is comes to glassware. So as year 2015 marked 100 years since Tapio Wirkkala's birth, it was only appropriate to use an Ultima Thule serving platter as a font in Eino's (who was born in 2015) christening. The set to be auctioned includes 16 different pieces.

1508. Tea and coffee set (Arabia)
Arabia's Kosmos series was named after the decoration designed by Gunvor Olin-Grönqvist and applied on Ulla Procopé's model S tableware. Kosmos was in production between 1962 - 1976. We really like the colour palette of Kosmos - very strong and modest at the same time. The set to be auctioned includes 23 pieces.  

 So, let's see what happens on Sunday...perhaps we'll see you there!

(All photos from the auction catalog

Mar 6, 2016

A few shots of coffee

Last December, a Finnish coffee company Paulig did a photoshoot for one of their key brands, Presidentti, in our home. It was a busy but surprisingly smooth day, and we thought it would be nice to share a few photos taken during the day with you. Some of them professional ones by photographer Rami Hanafi for Paulig and others perhaps a bit less professional, behind the scenes shots - often featured by a dachshund.

Morning coffee (photo provided by Paulig)

Urho overseeing artistic details

As Minna and Eino stayed home for the day they of course tried to stay out of everyone's way as much as possible. Urho, of course, had a very different approach. The more "on the way" the better. The photo above is just one example of many situations.

December in Finland is dark and depressing. But if your theme is "morning coffee", sunlight is a must. Before we knew it, the atrium terrace hosted quite an extensive lighting set up, which created a perfect illusion of a morning sun. And the best thing was it lasted the entire day.

Beautiful morning sun lighting a coffee moment (photo provided by Paulig)

Sun-supporting set up at the atrium terrace

The coffee smelled great, team seemed to work very seamlessly and efficiently together. During the day Urho managed to melt many hearts, and even made his way in some of the photos.

Wonder who is found in the far end of the sofa? (photo provided by Paulig)

Yes, who else?

So, last but not least: Silja & Anneli Maatraiva from Summerhill, photographer Rami Hanafi and Mikko Poutanen from Paulig and the rest of the team - thank you for the sun, lunch and great company!! It is always a pleasure to see professionals at work. And we like the pictures a lot - you can almost smell and taste good coffee in them!

A sausage under the coffee table

Feb 19, 2016

Arena creamer and sugar bowl

Oops, she did it again.

Two years in a row Minna's cousin Anu has nailed it with our Christmas surprise. Our Arena tableware was complemented by a creamer and a sugar bowl, two beautiful essentials. Thank you Anu, you are so very thoughtful!

Arena reflections

Despite of the silence in the blog, we haven't thrown in the towel, quite the contrary. The darkness of the Finnish winter is just not a great time to take neat pictures. The guest room is 99% finished and received preliminary approvals. The test users have risen some minor missing points, such as a door, functional lighting and door handles in cupboards. But overall, the experiences have been positive. More about that soon.

Sofi's room has also been updated a bit. More wall art, say the least. We may just be raising a picasso.

Jan 7, 2016

Urho's Holidays

So how were my Holidays? Of course you all are eager to hear about it!

First, it has to be stated. I had only minor successes with the divine Ibérico Bellota. Not even nearly enough to be happy. So let's not rub it in any more than necessary.

Thus, to other topics. Snow finally covered the ground and messed up my exercise routine. Or have you ever tried walking in snow so deep that it reaches the family jewels? Exactly, I didn't think so. In addition, what is it with these clothes? Can't blame me for being a bit annoyed!

Urho's winter attire

Fortunately it is warm and relaxing inside. The only added distraction was the fact that the smaller one of the little humans have started moving. He tries climbing on things, the Paolo Piva table being a favourite target at the moment. And the interest on Yours Truly is growing. They are training him, but those humans are such slow learners. Very different from us dachshunds.

"Just watch him fall soon!"

I also went ice fishing. It was quite cool, to have an eye to eye with a zander. They took the fish fillets home - taped on the roof-rack of the car! Simply, once again the human mind works the strangest ways!

Sniffing the fish

Couple of fillets attached to the roof-rack

Just that I don't give a wrong impression - most of the time I spent relaxing in bed, under as many blankets as possible. One could tell everyone were on a Holiday mood: it was much easier than usually for me to sneak in their bed and to stay there.

Aaah, the bliss of long, undistracted naps. The second best thing in the world, after that Ibérico Bellota of course.

Airing the brain

Dec 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Hello everyone,
It is Christmas. They thought it was a great idea to take this picture, but I'm not fully convinced. I do love the warm scarf but those red hearts...perhaps a bit too feminine for my taste.

But oh well, whatever buys me a treat. I can be flexible.

Urho's Christmas pose (photo by Alice Pittacolo & Nani Annette)

Don't know what is it with these people. They just keep coming up with new projects, and fail to capture the essence of easy life. They should learn from us dachshunds. Sleep in, stay warm and position yourself as close to food. Procrastination is an art.

But other than that they are pretty harmless. And they have their moments - for example now when the Ibérico Bellota arrived. I think I've almost broke them. They will soon get careless. Pieces of meet will eventually start falling. At that very moment, I will be there.

So I mind as well stick around for another year. This team needs someone with a sparkling intelligence and solid leadership skills. They need someone to revolve around, me.

But hey, now it is time to take it even easier and enjoy even better treats than usually. Therefore, may your Christmas be very relaxing and filled with delicious surprises. Let's enjoy the art of doing nothing.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Dec 23, 2015

Concrete steps, part 2

So the mold was ready and it was time to mix the mud. Pekka borrowed a concrete mixer from his friend Stenkka, whose tools and knowledge have been invaluable during these 3.5 years of renovation. Once again, thank you!

Concrete mixer

Mixing and pouring concrete to the mold is an iterative process. You start from the bottom of the stairs and work your way up. Every now and then you need to get a rid of bubbles inside the mix. In case of a small mold like this one, this was simply done by hammering the mold from various directions.

One down, seven to go

We knew it would be a bit of a gamble with the weather. Thus, Pekka worked the entire day to get the job done at once before the temperature would drop. Luckily, the weather stayed warm enough through the process.

Concrete man

These were quite intense moments. Step by step Pekka worked his way up the mold, but even if he had 3D-modelled the structure in order to estimate the amount of concrete needed, he wasn't quite sure how close he was, would there be enough concrete.

Fresh-out-of-oven concrete stairs

Finally, just before the darkness fell the all the steps were ready. It also seemed the mold was holding well and out of the 37 sacks of concrete, he had used 34. Perfect!

Daughter & Father team

Sofi of course helped. For a three year old, what could be more exiting that making mud and playing with it with her father. She is such a great apprentice, and truly interested in everything renovation related. One of her most frequently asked questions at the moment is: "How has this been made?"

Wrapped in a zillion layers

Apparently it requires approximately 400 C / hours for concrete to harden. At the moment the temperature in Southern Finland varies between 0 - 10C, Pekka wanted to minimise the risks. Therefore, he first wrapped his precious mold with a felt, then covered it with a tarpaulin to prevent contact with water. He also set a 110W light bulb to create heat underneath the cover and monitored the temperature carefully by adding a thermometer. Nearly as in a scientific experiment, the end result was stable 8C.

Sound a bit extensive? Yes, we would need to agree.

And what is revealed underneath?

One week is a long time when all you can do is wait. Would it settle? Would the rhythm of the stairs be convenient to walk?

Brand new stairs

In the end, everything went as planned. Yes, the concrete has some visible bubbles, but is not a problem. Next spring Pekka will cover the steps with the same slates we used downstairs and at the terrace. So exciting! It will be the first summer with a yard, instead of a muddy mess!

Dec 22, 2015

Concrete steps, part 1

For a moment the backyard looked okay. Slate terrace nicely laid, ready for winter to be completed next spring. But then the construction bug bit again, Pekka started playing with his 3D-modeling software and suddenly he was out there again, building stairs.

Earth moving manually 

After digging a big enough hole, Pekka started with some 50 mm Finnfoam thermal insulation to minimise the impact of ground frost. Next, in the spirit of recycling and minimising the amount of concrete needed, he piled the rest of the concrete blocks which used to be our old terrace on top of insulation.

First two stairs

The first two stairs were fine. Approaching the third, Pekka found something we had completely forgotten: a big stump, a remain of a big pine tree which was cut down right after we moved in. Right on the way of the third step. Of the two options, either moving the stairs or getting rid of the stump he chose the latter.

Half cut tree stump

The way was clear again. One step at the time Pekka continued all the way up.

Reinforcing steel wire

Next, he build a steel wire to support the concrete structure.

Building a mold

And finally, a mold for the concrete.


And a few weeks after the bug bite, the stairs were ready for concrete. Even if wishing for a white Christmas, we now crossed fingers for the weather to stay warm as the concrete requires +10C to settle and harden...

Will it hold?