Five guiding principles

Aalto Design Masters Intro Course 2014
Assignment 3

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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

> 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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The country, autumn and hairy family members

I am originally from a city called Lahti, around 100 kilometres North from Helsinki. There are about 100 000 people in Lahti but it’s a midsize town in Finland. There are some pretty lakes and plenty of natural places to visit. My parents’ home is in the countryside, outside town, where they enjoy the peace and quiet. Moments of silence are only broken by our crazy friendly bearded collie and two cats. Here are some photos from my visit to the country. But first, you must get more insight to the hairy family members: our dog and two cats.

Urho – the dog

nicknames: Uukki, Urkki, Jätkä
breed: bearded collie (in Finnish: partacollie)
age: 1,5 years
weight: around 20 kg


  • thinks he is human. Sits on a chair in the dining table.
  • uses people as chairs. Likes to sit on people’s laps and totally ignore them.
  • has a natural sense for chasing lambs, but mainly chases cars.
  • likes to be in the car. goes to work with my dad and sits on the front seat, head outside the window.
  • jumps up and down to meet you. licks your face and wants all your hugs and love.
  • likes to be with his human family all the time. Even gets to sleep in the bed!

best friend: Jekku, a mini collie who barks all the time.
favourite pastime: shredding the ‘insides’ of his teddy lion. getting tasty snacks and burying them to interesting places.

Moro – the cat

nicknames: Morgane, Tyttö
breed: shorthaired
age: 10 years
colour: black with brown strokes


  • thinks she owns the house (and the humans).
  • ignores you until she feels like looking at you. Totally disappears during the summer to spend wild life in the forest. But returns to stay inside the whole winter.
  • likes to occasionally spend two seconds on your lap.
  • comes to say hello when you come home.
  • loudly insists that the door is opened for her. Even though she is well aware of the cat door.
  • used to know how to fetch ball when she was a kitty.
  • fights with the male cat. Never cuddles with him. But sometimes cuddles with the dog.

favourite pastime: sleeping on top of the fridge (and other high places). hugs from mom and dad.

Ripa – the cat

nicknames: Ipa, Ipsu
breed: shorthaired
age: 7 years
colour: black and white


  • Graciously allows the humans to reside with him. Totally ignores people during the summer. On cold nights, comes to sleep in the bed, cuddling to your warm body.
  • Brings live mice in and yells until humans come to see it. Then eats to mouse.
  • Sleeps in the middle of the sofa, or in his basket near a window where he can see the birds.
  • Dislikes the dog but mainly ignores him.
  • Hates being in the car (and in a cage) and will shout the whole trip with a horrible baby voice. But really loves to spend time at the summer cottage (1h drive away).
  • If you stroke him, he starts to play with you, with his extremely sharp nails.

favourite pastime: bird-watching from his nest. Hunting to ‘feed’ his humans and show off his skills.

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!


It’s not Spring or even summer, but I felt inspired by these blossoms and the colours of the image. Pretty much following on similar colour scheme as yesterday.The original photo is actually  from an IKEA advert. I found it on Lili Halo Decoration blog. I drew a few versions with different background colours and also tuned down the clutter. I feel like diving into those pastel shades of pink and brown.

While you breathe these blossomy colours in, listen to Yann Tiersen ‘Toujours Là’.


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IKEA inspiration

Decor inspiration

I was really inspired by this cosy coloured living room in Deco magazine’s Habitare edition (9/2013). The furniture are all sold by Vepsäläinen. The colour scheme really caught my eye and most of my work today used its colours. Here are my illustrated and scanned versions of the set-up, and also a deer illustration. Hope they inspire you to create a new Autumn decoration for your home. I’m definitely dreaming about powder pink, copper, greys and round clean shapes.


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