London Design Festival: Design and Dine with Wrong For Hay

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Finnish archipelago bread and chef's butters
Finnish archipelago bread and chef's buttersPhotography by Neil Wiss

Exploring the delights of Wrong for Hay's intimate dinners during the London Design Festival

It’s in one of the tall, perfectly preserved Georgian houses which graces Queen Anne’s Gate that design companies Hay and Wrong For Hay have established their new London showroom. Once a private members’ club, the building has been suitably modernised inside, and contains fine examples of the simple, mid-century inspired pieces that have made the Danish brand Hay a global success, and Wrong For Hay – their collaboration with longstanding British designer Sebastian Wrong – an exciting newcomer to the home-interiors landscape.

As part of their London Design Festival activities, Wrong for Hay is holding a series of intimate dinners with Finnish-born chef Antto Melasniemi, in an impromptu dining room dressed by guest interior stylists Keays & Kempton. As the man behind three popular restaurants in Helsinki, the roving solar-powered kitchen, and the former keyboardist for popular hardcore band Him, Melasniemi has a restless creativity that has finally brought him to London.

“I think this connection between food and design is a perfect match” — Sebastian Wrong

Harking from the most eastern part of Finland, Melasniemi describes his food as “influenced by Russia and Slavic countries,” and it is certainly heartier than the sparse, Noma-inspired dishes that have given Nordic cuisine its name over the past few years. Melasniemi also attributes his cosy style to what he calls “lucky accidents in the kitchen.”

The meal started with a robust rye Finnish archipelago bread, served with three types of chef’s butters – one each with chicken liver, smoked fish and crabapple – and all of which had the consistency of exceptionally creamy pâté. What followed was a truly satisfying course of thick fish soup with cod cheeks accompanied by a Karelian pastry (a sort of open pasty filled with barley). Lamb shoulder, loin and sweetbread were served with a selection of salty seashore greens, while buttery sea bass was offset by slivers of fennel and rye potatoes. A pudding of liquorice crème brûlée, what Melasniemi called his “signature dish”, combined salty Finnish liquorice with the traditional French dessert to bring a delicious coffee and cocoa-like result.

At the beginning of the evening we sampled some of Melasniemi’s newly concocted “forage gin” – a foresty, piney liquor that he’s currently developing and plans to launch with Jugendstil-inspired labels designed by his friend and the east London-based designer, Klaus Happaniemi. “I think this connection between food and design is a perfect match,” said Sebastian Wrong about the Design and Dine evenings and similar cross-pollenated collaborations. “Whether it's design or music or food, the finer things in life should all be integrated.” To this end, Wrong and Melasniemi hinted at future plans – hopefully this time something for permanent.

Design and Dine is at the Hay and Wrong for Hay showrooms at 34 Queen Anne’s Gate, SW1, until Friday 19 September. Tickets are £32. London Design Festival runs across London until September 21.

Text by Ananda Pellarin