Being in the forest acts as a counterbalance to the buzz of the city

Jenny Carlsson is a photographer and stylist whose five-member family lives close to nature in northern Helsinki. The surrounding forests are a source of peace and inspiration. The family spends a lot of time at home and therefore the home is the centre of all action.

Table 83, white laminate, Alvar Aalto 1935, 1555 €, 611 chair, Alvar Aalto 1929, 585 €, Akari 75A -pendant light, Isamu Noguchi, 1951, 1022 €, Aslak chair, Ilmari Tapiovaara 1958, 735 €, Tatti Matryoshka, Com-pa-ny, 95 €, Helios cushion cover, 40 x 40 cm, 70 €

The forest is my lifeline. Every week, I make sure I go into the woods. It gives me great enjoyment to witness the changing seasons. Big changes can happen in a week. It is like being in a work of art that is constantly changing. There is joy in seeing the first green leaves appear in the spring and to feel deep in my lungs the freshness of the air after rain. These small immaterial experiences are a comfort in a world where so much else is focused on efficiency. It feels good to get away from the hectic rhythm of my everyday life, to spend some time alone, just thinking my own thoughts. But spending time with my family in the wilderness is also wonderful. I witness the fun and inventiveness of the children as they notice so much that we grown-ups easily miss. There is the pleasure of picking berries and seeing their smiling mouths stained purple from all the bilberries they have eaten instead of putting them into their little buckets.

Living in the city increases the importance of the forest. We don’t have a summer cottage of our own, so getting away for day trips has become all the more important. Being in the forest acts as a counterbalance to the buzz of the city and gives us a chance to spend time in a more serene environment. One of the criteria for our home was that we wanted to live close to nature. That comes from my childhood home, where we lived in a city but also at the edge of a forest. That is what I want for my children too.

I value the authenticity of the forest and in my home that comes through as an appreciation of natural materials. Linen, wool and wood are my favourites, the materials that I have used a lot at home. They feel good, while also providing softness and warmth. Wood ages beautifully and is timeless. A long lifespan is what a lot of people think about today when they make their purchases. Even if my needs change over time, the sustainability of furniture or objects means they can live on in some other home rather than end up in a landfill.

In addition to the natural materials, pieces of actual nature also come into our home as the children bring in their treasures in the form of sticks and stones. But I do it too. Dried grass and plants decorate the place in various ways. Their earthy colours are soothing and blend in with the natural materials in our home. We don’t usually have a Christmas tree per se, as they don’t last very long. Instead, we bring in some evergreen conifer branches. The colour palette of our home is also very close to that of nature. It gives the same soothing effect as the forest.

Aslak chair, Ilmari Tapiovaara, 1958, 735 €, Tatti Matryoshka, Com-pa-ny, 95 €
Pöytä 83, valkoinen laminaatti, Alvar Aalto 1935, 1555 €, 611 tuoli, Alvar Aalto 1929, 585 €, Akari 75A -riippuvalaisin, Isamu Noguchi, 1951, 1022 €, Tatti Matryoshka, Com-pa-ny, 95 €, Helios-tyynynpäällinen, 40 x 40 cm, 70 €

The dining table is where socialising takes place. Most of our family life seems to be centred around the table. Over the course of a day, a number of meals are eaten at the table, but it is also used for crafts and work. I don’t really need a separate desk because I usually choose to work at the table. Our dining table is also used for home improvements, as it provides us with a solid base to stand on when painting or attaching things to the ceiling. I like it that the table is used a lot. I have never had to worry about its surface, and can always wipe off the stains of marker pens etc.

I love best the everyday meals we have at the table, when the whole family is there and our voices fill the room. It is good to talk about what has happened during the day. This is a routine we try to hold on to, even though we can’t all be there for every meal. The table has also been the centre of many a party – children’s birthdays, Christmases and other holidays. The weeks before Christmas are a wonderfully atmospheric time. We light candles and the children make gingersnaps and Karelian pies. This has become one of our Christmas traditions and the best reward is enjoying the baked goods together. Outside, the pine trees remind us of the forest and spread joy.

Text and photos: Jenny Carlsson


Previously at Artek Helsinki

Artek Helsinki
Keskuskatu 1 B
00100 Helsinki, Finland
tel. +358 10 617 3480
Mon-Sat 10:00 – 18:00