A Suitable Mix of Bohemia and Sophistication

To speak for the VitraHaus Eccentric interior we have chosen Laura Saarinen, who describes her home as a jigsaw puzzle of significant furniture and interior design objects that create a cosy atmosphere. VitraHaus x Artek Helsinki, June 8 – September 4, 2021.

The Eccentric arrangement at VitraHaus. Photograph: Vitra

One of the four VitraHaus x Artek Helsinki exhibition arrangements is the Eccentric, where each object is an expression of feeling that adds to the atmosphere. Avant-garde and eccentric furniture and objects are brought together to create an iconic and sophisticated whole. The Vitra interior design philosophy is based on collage – a home is created layer by layer with objects that are significant to the inhabitants. Such thinking comes to the fore in an Eccentric arrangement.

Laura Saarinen, our chosen spokesperson for the Eccentric arrangement, is a communications and marketing executive in health technologies. Her family of four live in a home among a jigsaw of significant furniture and objects. This is how Laura answered our questions.

Vitra Haus_Laura_web

How did you get to know Vitra and how has it inspired you?

In the early 2000s we bought our first house and fixed it up from floor to ceiling. That’s when I became more interested in design. I was inspired to take a course in interior design and I’d go from shop to shop with colour charts and mood boards. I saw Vitra’s DSR chairs in some design magazine and immediately fell in love. Those chairs served us well for nearly twenty years, until they were given a new home last autumn.

I love Vitra’s ability to combine the creations of current designers with designs from earlier decades. Actually, Vitra is quite rock’n’roll – there’s a bit of an edge to it and, also, the designs are both current and sustainable. Just about everything in the Vitra Collection would fit into our home perfectly. I dream of dining at a Jean Prouvé EM Table and of having an Isamu Noguchi Coffee Table with an Akari Light Sculpture standing beside it – and so many other things. When you know the stories behind the designers and their creations, many things that seemed simple turn out to be multidimensional and far more fascinating than you had thought. There’s a purpose to the details.

Vitra speaks of authenticity. Genuine design furniture keeps its value and ages beautifully, with shapes that transcend seasons and trends. A genuine product also has a moral value – I’d never buy a reproduction. You never need to lug a piece of quality furniture to the dump. They’re all about sustainable development and can be used for decades, either in your own or someone else’s home.

I have been lucky enough to visit the inspiring Vitra Campus. I heartily recommend it for any fan of design who is in the area! Definitely take one of the guided tours because they really open your eyes to the architecture, the people and the stories behind the objects. And the Vitra Schaudepot is a heaven of chairs, it’s all love!

What is your interior design philosophy?

For me, a home is like a jigsaw puzzle of a thousand pieces that is never finished, but each piece fits in seamlessly when things work out well. At present, my home is also my sanctuary. That doesn’t mean it has to be simple and colourless, but rather that we should be comfortable and feel good there, it should be an empowering place.

I admire interiors that are minimalist and crisply clear, but for some reason my own home always tends to the opposite. Minimalism just isn’t our thing. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue – well, perhaps instead of blue it’s something colourful. But mostly it is old or recycled. It’s the small details that bring joy. And colours. However, for now, the colour palette of our new home is more restrained than it was in our old home, but perhaps that is needed to bring balance to our hectic lives.

We don’t have furniture as exhibition pieces, everything needs to sustain our day-to-day life with children. It’s great when you can move furniture from one room to another and reinvent how they are used. For instance, Artek’s bench with slats has been used as a flower stand, as a seat in the front hall, a friend borrowed it to use as a TV stand, and since then our son has put it beside his desk to use as a chair and to support his games. We’ve had to make some small compromises because of the children, such as the colour of the sofa. And there used to be an oilcloth on the kitchen table. But everything has its time. Now we’re back to having a rug under the dining table and a proper tablecloth. And we’re thinking of getting a new sofa. A home is alive, just like the people living in it.

I do follow trends and am inspired by them in my choice of design objects, but I rarely let what is trendy influence any bigger decisions about what I buy. My parents passed on the principle that it’s better to buy good-quality stuff that lasts rather than something for a single use. I’m bad at living with temporary solutions, so I just have to wait until I find the right thing, that unique something that really wows me. My grandmother used to change her curtains and carpets to match the season. Actually, I like that idea because it works if the rest of what you have is good. A home isn’t something you build for others. Our home is a nest we’ve built with love for our family, it changes subtly, and sometimes more drastically, with time and our changing needs.

What connections do you see between your home and the VitraHaus Eccentric arrangement?

The Eccentric arrangement opens up over time, but the first thing it does is to put you in a good mood. I like the combination of metal and genuine materials, the meeting of cold and warm. I like the clear lines and soft shapes. The multiplicity of materials. The objects that can be playful. And the colours! What a wonderful palette of reds and pinks, balanced with other hues. It’s suitably cosy, a mix of bohemia and sophistication. I’d like to think that our home reflects the Eccentric arrangement in that it has multiple dimensions and a personality.

The sofa by Hella Jongerius and its woven fabric is absolutely adorable. I wish I had her eye for colour and the ability to combine different patterns and textures. I’m trying to mix styles like that. There’s room for more fun details in our home as well as some je ne sais quoi.

I could easily take everything from the Eccentric arrangement into our home. That’s how well all the pieces resonate with us. It’s difficult to say which of the pieces of furniture or objects have been designed decades ago and which are recent, and that may be the secret to eternal youth.

// Laura

VitraHaus x Artek Helsinki
Keskuskatu 1B
00100 Helsinki
Mon–Sat 10–18

Previously at Artek Helsinki

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