This September sees Finnish food and design come to London, in the form of the ingenious temporary restaurant and exhibition, HEL YES!
Over two weeks, visitors to a warehouse in east London will be transported into an intimate space for 60 to 80 diners, where Finnish delicacies from the wild, prepared by celebrated chef Antto Melasniemi, will be served under open-canopied tents, constructed from linens and cashmeres from Finnish cult fashion illustrator Klaus Haapaniemi’s new textile range. Inside guests will be seated at tables shaded by aspen trees from a thinned-out forest in Finland, all surrounded by Finnish design classics, from the Iittala tableware to the Alvar Aalto Artek “403” chairs.
Part of a series of events taking place in preparation for 2012, when Helsinki becomes the World Design Capital, HEL YES! came out of a discussion between Melasniemi and Hanna Harris, programme director for the Finnish Institute in London. Featuring a team consisting of a collection of Finnish-born, London-based creatives (including art director Mia Wallenius, creative director Klaus Haapaniemi and Fashion East designer Heikki Salonen, who is creating the HEL YES! staff uniforms), the event’s unique perspective undoubtedly comes from this immersion in both cultures.
“The dining space is inspired by kiosks, which used to travel along the frozen sea on the ice, between Finland and Estonia,” explains Harris, referring to the ancient travelling yurts that housed “nomadic bistros” along the main trade routes, and would serve warm food and drinks. “The mood we wanted to portray is quite dark and mysterious, but enjoyable at the same time and very colourful.”
Text by Karen Orton
HEL YES! is taking place from September 15 to October 3 as part of the London Design Festival at Londonewcastle Depot, 1-3 Wenlock Road, N1 7SL. OK Talk is a series of designer breakfast talks taking place at HEL YES!