Room for Personality

Words by Veronica Mike Solheim
Photography by Mikko Ryhänen

Studio Joanna Laajisto is famous for its warm and welcoming interior design, with projects ranging from individual spaces to scalable interior concepts that include service design, retail design and visual merchandising. Joanna’s work is simultaneously driven by functionality and aesthetics. Her philosophy is to not clutter this world with unnecessary things, but rather find the hidden beauty of a space and enhance it with creative solutions.

Joanna Laajisto is among one of seven Finnish creatives featured in A New Type of Imprint Volume Nine (launching in a week). We saved a few questions for web only and wanted to show you the project that first caught our eyes.

Hi Joanna. Please introduce yourself.
I’m Joanna Laajisto, a wife and a mother of two girls living in Helsinki. I run a small boutique design firm Studio Joanna Laajisto, which specializes in commercial interiors in the fields of hospitality, retail and workplace, as well as product design. 

We get the feeling that each space is given a personality and a constructed universe. Every color, material, piece of furniture, even the composition, are perfectly put together. How do you come up with ideas and visions for the projects?
It makes me so happy that you can see a personality in each space, that is exactly what I try to achieve. First I get to know the client, the end consumer, and their needs very well. I often use service design methods for that. Then I get to know the space. I think it’s very important to spend time there, to feel the space, sense the spirit of it. When you get to know it, you know how to cherish it. I believe that every space has a soul and the worst spaces are the ones where that has been suffocated. You see and feel that a lot, specially in public interiors. They are just branded spaces without any soul. After getting to know the space, I create its personality.

The project Finlandia Caviar really caught our eye. Could you tell us about it? 
Finlandia Caviar is a shop and a restaurant, a place where you can buy caviar to go, but also enjoy it right then and there. In short, the brief was to create a Caviar house with Finnish quality for international and especially Russian clientele. I think you’ll immediately picture a certain look for that.

But after getting to know the wonderful owner, Valeria, I realized that caviar was personal to her. She introduced me to the world of caviar and made me realize that you don’t need to be a millionaire to be able to eat it, and you don’t need to know anything about it from before. At Finlandia Caviar they are very happy to guide and help first timers. There is nothing exclusive about it at all. So I wanted to create a space that is easily approachable, low key. Where the warm service and quality products are the stars.

The space has always been a store of some kind. It’s located on the shore of Helsinki, looking at the Market Place. So we created a bar where you can enjoy this unusual view. The space had original tile flooring left in some parts, which we kept and replicated for the rest. This preserves the original old store look and feel. The soul was rescued in a way. The design is still very Finnish, but in a soft way. The colour palette is inspired by ice and frost, and the furnishings and pictures are mostly Finnish designers and manufacturers.

Read an extended version in A New Type of Imprint Volume Nine. 

RetailVeronica Solheim