Moko Sörnäinen – deco & cafe review

For over 20 years Moko has brought exotic and exciting lifestyle and decoration items to us in the cold country. I grew up with it. I remember being enchanted with the beautiful smells and colours of candles, snacks and decor items from distant places. Excitement would surround me in this gateway to colours, smells, experiences and exotic lifestyle. Quite something I had never experienced. Even as a youngster, I wanted to buy at least something small to take away with me from this different world.

Moko was spreading across Finland around a decade ago. They even had a small franchise in my itsy bitsy home town. Not quite sure what happened, but coming back to Finland a couple of years back, Moko had scaled down and moved its (only) flagship store in the outskirts of the centre. I was super excited that they opened another Moko in Sörnäinen, just a few blocks from my home. So in this post, I’m sharing with you my experience visiting the Sörnäinen branch last week.

First of all, I was excited to see my favourite letterpress items from ‘Rifle Paper’ and the go-to lifestyle magazine Kinfolk appear on the Moko counters. Also, the space, an old hat factory, was superb with its vast and airy space. The cafe side had room to accommodate at least 50 people I’d say. Apparently it was the intention to make this branch more cafe and less shop, with the other one in Southwest centre the other way around. I’m not sure if this was done in order to capitalise on the surrounding lunch-hungry white collar worker masses stuffed in the blocks around the shop, or an actual move to make a culinary exploration. Tea selection was good but the salad, baguette, danish/cookie selection was disappointingly basic Finnish no-effort. Maybe I was there the wrong time. The photos from their weekend brunches look yummy. I guess, I was expecting something exotic, daring and new from Moko’s cafe side.

The Moko space looked perfect for lounging, meeting up with a creative group of friends for a brainstorming break, knitting class or some sort of potluck, book club or poetry society stroll. The space made me want to stay there for hours and soak in the creative, calm and cozy atmosphere. Which leads to my second problem with the whole thing. It closes at 5pm. That is insane! My favourite cafe, Le Pain de Quotiden, in London was open 7am-10pm. OK, that’s maybe not doable for Helsinki, but at 5pm people get off work and go get a coffee with friends. Even want to have a bite and might buy some things. This place should be open until 8pm. There should be events/get-togethers happening there. With the cultural peeps relocating to Suvilahti factory halls, this new Moko location can prove to be a hit. But it makes me wonder, why they go for outskirt central areas. Even a smaller joint in Kamppi or Kluuvi would be lovely and attract people’s attention. Perhaps they want to be less commercial or avoid competing with Indiska. At least Moko has a web store, so the rest of Finland can still buy their Moko favourites online. Another big plus for Moko branding is their presence in social media. They are pretty active in Facebook, write (somewhat occasional) blog posts and have an inspiring collection of Pinterest boards.

So my to summarise my experience at Moko and add my wish list:

I love:
+ great space
+ the new stationery from Rifle Paper
+ thanks for bringing us lifestyle, cooking and crafts books otherwise difficult to find in Finland
+ yummy foodster packages
+ exotic furniture and fabric products we have loved for over 20 years
+ great shop styling
+ bookable ‘conference hut’
+ great social media and extensive fan base

I’m not sure about:
– the quality and selection of foods in the cafe
– opening times
– overall location strategy is a mystery (while I enjoy this particular location)
– a little bit too much of pastel princess items which are not in line with Moko’s best style
– lots of people working there, I saw 6 staff members 3-5pm

Wishlist:
> some exciting new Moko recipes for the cafe.
> extended opening hours
> would be wonderful if Moko would (co)organise artsy events in their spacious cafe.
> would be great to hear the Moko story, read about the travels behind the shop items, recipes of Moko-specialites. Who are the two sisters behind Moko and what is their vision.
> more authentic and unique Moko finds.

All in all, I DID enjoy the new Sörnäinen Moko. And lucky me, I get off at 2pm everyday, so there’s a chance I’ll be hanging out there.

Moko on ollut suosikkikauppani jo pidemmälle toista vuosikymmentä. Ihania eksoottisia, tuoksuja ja värejä täynnä olevia löytöjä voi nyt tehdä myös ihan kotikulmillani Sörnäisissä. Paikalla on myös iso kahvila, jossa voisi viettää enemmänkin aikaa. Harmi vaan, että ovet sulkeutuvat jo klo17 arkisin. Mokon vankka sisustusosaaminen on nyt saanut joukkoonsa myös paperitavaraa ja ihania kirjoja. 

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Vintage finds

I have recently made some amazing finds in flea markets, the streets (!) and antique stores. There is a second hand heaven in my home town Lahti, it’s called Lanttila, where you can find fabrics, tea sets, cutlery, mason jars etc with just a few euros. My new favourite for a selection of well curated vintage finds is Olohuone in Kallio. They have a cute cafe and occasionally organise creative workshops. Below some items I got for myself.

  • Lanttila flea market / second hand self service market in Lahti: website and directions.
  • Olohuone second hand & lifestyle shop and cafe in Kallio, Helsinki: website and blog.

Walking home from my design course, I ran into a pile of old furniture on the street. The construction men were bringing them out of an apartment building. So I decided to ask if I could take this cute old red chair. And there I was: carrying a chair around Kallio today. Such a shame that they were not taking the furniture to a flea market – there could have found a new home. The red chair feels like it has been mine for ever now. It just found its place with me.

The stuff on the chair: USSR rose and gold lined tea set 2,50 euros (Lanttila), wooden and steel spoons 2 euros (Lanttila)m silver(ish) candle holders 2 euros (Lanttila) and the tin box plus glass jar both from Olohuone at 14 euros. The old metal box with a cross on top are from Ankara, Turkey. The cross was a gift from the antique shop owner when I bought the old metal box. The shells are from Prince’s Island in Istanbul, Turkey.

Finds flea market finds flea market finds flea market finds

And here are some iPhone pics (sorry!) from Olohuone cafe and shop. They share my passion for jars and tin boxes. Must sign up for their creative evening workshops. The shop opened just a few months ago, and is run by two ladies: an aunt and her niece. They are from Kuopio and bring most of their second hand items from Kuopio’s best hidden gems.

Olohuone Olohuone Olohuone Olohuone

These wall baskets (?) were just begging for me to take them home from Lanttila. A few euros each, I have them hanging on my empty kitchen wall. Not sure what to put in. Maybe flowers?

wall baskets

These vintage 3D Viewer Reels were showcased in Private Case stationery shop in central Helsinki. I’d love to find some for sale and perhaps make my own 3D images. I used to love these when I was a kid.

Check out Private case shop in Pieni Roobertinkatu, Helsinki.

3D specs 3D specs

This is a red poncho I found for 5 euros in Lanttila. I think it has just the retro feeling for this winter. I wear it with jeans. The porcelain beads are vintage from Beijing.

Indian winter

Below my new favourite winter coat. It is made by a Finnish company called Master Coat that no longer exists. But they were known for their quality coats. This wool coat has such beautiful natural texture. And it only cost 15 euros in Lanttila. It’s second hand but never used.

Master coat

Autumn colours in Helsinki

I took a stroll around Vallilla’s wooden houses district today. The Autumn colours are so striking at the moment! So in addition to my recent colour crush (see previous posts), I’m thinking of drawing some inspiration from the amazing reds, oranges, yellows, browns and greens of the Autumn. The colours are probably more striking in the country side, or if you visit more Northern places, but the Helsinki colours are pretty awesome as well! With the lovely wooden houses of Vallilla, just near my house, the colours create a magical world. So I am sharing some photos I took today with my old Nikon D60. I’ll definitely use these colours schemes for my illustrations. Happy Autumn everyone!

Made in Kallio

Continuing on the theme of creative working spaces in Helsinki, here is a short intro to Made in Kallio. It is a cafe, shop and creative workspace in the district of Kallio. Made in Kallio is a network and initiative of local artists and creative people. They co-organise events, offer studio and workshop space in addition to selling works of local designers and talents, over a cup of coffee of course.

Like Made in Kallio on Facebook.
Find out more about Made in Kallio on their website.

Kallio is a bohemian district in central Helsinki. It’s known for both its artsy people and ‘spuges’. The latter is a Helsinki slang word for drunken semi-homeless people. Expect low(er) rents, art studios, smell of pee, thai ‘massage’ shops, cute cafes and lots of people pretty much 24-7. Well, I live there. And Kallio is probably one of the most creative and bohemian districts in Helsinki. So not all bad. And you get the real city life comforts here: supermarket open 24h, late night meals, walking distance  / night bus / metro from everywhere etc.

Here is how Kallio is described by Kallioliike, an initiative to increase sense of community in Kallio:

Kallio is the throbbing urban heart of Helsinki, a romanticized old working-class district not only known for its population of students, bohemians and beer-fond denizens, but also increasingly identified as an abode of families with young children at home and of middle-class IT workers. There’s room for everyone in Kallio!

Find out more and join Kallioliike on their website.

And finally some pics from Made in Kallio, with my old Nikon D60.