The name Iittala is renowned the world over. With its Global Flagship store on Helsinki’s prestigious Esplanadi, the famous Finnish table design brand hit home.
Glass birds perched in front of mirrored glass, a wooden wall based on classic casting moulds, or a modular shelving system made of anodized aluminum. Hong Kong-based designer Michael Young created the brand’s flagship store in Taipei, where he used these striking design elements to draw in the Asian luxury consumer. The Helsinki store is loosely based on Young’s concept, conceptualised by the Fiskars Group (Iittala’s mother company), and built by Tchai. The whole project took nine months to realise, from start to finish.
“We adapted this design to the home market,” says Vesa Liuhanen, Retail Concept Manager at Fiskars Group. “This means that in Finland, or in Europe in general, there’s a bigger need for storage and shelving space within the store.”
The luxury elements make their way back into the Helsinki store, but the solution for storage space comes in the form of discrete modular cabinets with handle-less doors, which, topped with glass, also function as object displays.
Since the whole Iittala product line needed to be showcased in the store, the brand had to streamline its assortment, Vesa explains. “We made the choice to sacrifice retail space for inspirational spots within the store. A 4-metre dining table becomes a focal point of design inspiration, which also can be used for inspirational events.”
As a brand with Nordic heritage, it’s extra special that the new Iittala store is partly housed in one of Alvar Aalto’s buildings, says Vesa. “He’s our design hero. Some original fixtures, such as the door handles, are still visible to the visitor.”