Mar 29, 2017

Behind the scenes

Related to the previous post referring to last summer's as labor camp we thought it might be fun to post a few quick and dirty behind the scenes photos (non-styled, non-edited) including some of the key characters (non-styled, non-edited) during the last few, perhaps the most intense weeks.

Pekka, Sofi and Urho witnessing arrival of Tosca slates for the front entrance

The best thing in a big project is that everyone, irrespective of what their skills are (or are not), can make themselves useful. It does not matter if you are a generalist or a more detail oriented person, a perfect task to flatter your strengths can easily be identified.

Pekka's father Kari was responsible for priming and painting the door frames

Pekka's mother Merja finished a huge number of different assignments ranging from child care to painting

If you really are a pro, your skills will not remain unutilized to their fullest potential. In these cases, the bar is set really high and tolerances at minimum. And you need to deliver. It is a family business, and no such thing as truly constructive criticism exists. Needless to say, not very many team members meet the criteria to be included in this high-class worker group.  

Pekka's sister Irmeli preparing a complicated diffuser

And then there are those tasks which are too dirty to assign to a non-resident. Tasks which still need to be done, and they will, because it is yours, and no one else (but an overly committed resident) would take responsibility. Fortunately in a high-performing team the value of this kind of work is also acknowledged and thus completed with class (at least without audible complaints).

Minna washing a big and dusty rock in the bunker

And what do the minors do in the meantime? Let's be honest - at the age of 4 and 1 they were still a bit young to be included in the actual work force. Thus, their key task was to adjust in the constantly changing conditions, by finding a quiet corner or a place to play and avoiding the most intense eye of the renovation storm. And since they are both born in the middle of it, they simply don't know any other way and fit in just perfectly.

Sofi watching her favourite kids' show comfortably in our bed

Eino relaxing at the backyard terrace after being kept out from harm's way in an inflatable pool

So, by trial and error, everyone making the best use of their skills, whatever they may be. Accepting detours as a part of creative and operative process.

Just pick up a hammer and do it!

Mar 27, 2017

Journey's end

A journey which begun in April 2015 has now ended. The Most Beautiful Home of Finland in 2017 has been chosen. In the end, the choice was quite obvious for us Finns, the winner being a beautiful home from Luvia, located right at the shore of Gulf of Bothnia.



We proudly finished at fourth place. Being two competitive spirits it would have been great to win, not only the competition but also the hearts of the Finnish people. But looking back, the past year has really shown us something much more valuable by proving true an old piece of wisdom: it is the journey, not the arrival, that really matters.




And what a journey it has been. Last summer was not a vacation, it was a labor camp, which feels like hell but truly makes a great story afterwards. Restricted with budget and time, friends and relatives were called in to help to finish what needed to be done. We were often simply exhausted and occasionally demotivated by all those bumps in the road, which in the end make the story worth telling. But it is amazing what humour, cold beer and a few hours of sleep can do. Next morning, we were again ready to tackle the challenges with a fresh spirit.


 
As a result, we have all grown wiser and learned to laugh at failure. We have realised the true importance of having a shared vision and clear objectives, and thus achieved so much as a family. We are proud to have started to show Sofi and Eino that anything is achievable. If there is a will, hard work will lead the way.



This home has been our project since 2012. And it will continue to be just that, quite a few more years. Next summer, however, will be a bit different. We don't usually travel very much for obvious reasons - a simple choice between investing savings for example in slate terrace materials vs. flights overseas. But summer 2017 will take us to San Francisco, to see some dear friends, the Eames House (and a bunch of other case study houses), Highway One, MCM antique fairs. Another dream coming true.



Last but not least, thank you. All of you. Thank you so much, for all your support, votes, and positive comments. We tend to walk our path, located a bit aside from mainstream, and it's been just overwhelming have such a crowd following our walk. If you continue to be curious, please stay with us. As the road will go on and on...




(all photos in this post by our fantastic and inspirational friend and photographer, Nani Annette


Mar 15, 2017

Time to vote and win PH80!

Now, it is time. We need your support to win the title of the Most Beautiful Home in Finland! Our home was the only one to receive the perfect score from the judges, so we just might have a chance!



Every vote counts, and we are extremely grateful of every single one we receive. So, if you think we would deserve the title of the Most Beautiful Home in Finland, please cast your vote for finalist #3 (Omalla tyylillä) by midnight at March 19, 2017 here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the view below and fill the points marked on red. 



If we win, we will celebrate by running a great giveaway in Instagram (@olivegreenblog) where you can win PH80 designed by Poul Henningsen for Louis Poulsen, and two of your friends will receive small surprises. So make sure to check out instructions in our Instagram feed how to participate!

Thank you so much already in advance!! 

Feb 27, 2017

Bedroom colors

Let's be optimistic - it will be spring soon! Greyness will be replaced by colors. More light to take decent photos again. Nature will wake up. On that note, our bedroom has been in need of - well, something bright. We'd also need a new bed cover, the current one is simply boring (black), not very good quality and Urho's hair just gets stuck in it. While trying to decide on the cover (AVA room covers seem interesting and practical, experiences anyone?), wonderfully bright bed linen by Lemon Deco work beautifully to add some zest!

Summer

Summer

The world is full of bed linen, but each one of the Four Seasons pillow / duvet cover combinations is so surprisingly unique it is difficult to decide which ones not to want. For spring time and energy-craving state of mind, however, it is Summer and Autumn which are are screaming colour and thus hitting us home the hardest.

Autumn

Autumn

The design and photos of Finnish nature used in the bed linen are the work of Minna's friend Make, the man behind Lemon Deco (and Lemon Gay). Designing bed linen and other textiles is just one of his many talents, and in addition, Make is a great character to hang out with. He actually dropped by for a visit the other day and took all of the photos in this blog post. It was a fun few hours, spiked up with some great gossip, a lot of swearing on some unresolved mysteries of a new camera and deep discussions of dachshund's amazing life. Thank you Make, for the photos and especially for get company!

His Sausageness on Autumn

Being a fan of Urho Make could not miss the opportunity to have His Sausageness posing for a few shots. And as always, Urho collaborated eagerly knowing we would not hold on the treats afterwards.

Make from Lemon Deco

If you are in need of your favourite Lemon Deco season, you can contact Make directly via make.janhunen@kolumbus.fi. He will be delighted to help! 

And by the way, inspired by the colors and energy of Spring and Autumn, we are currently thinking mustard yellow or olive green (!) for the bed cover. Urho can have the old black one to replace one of his worn out sleeping blankets. 

Feb 13, 2017

DIY: Wooden curtain

After Suomen Kaunein Koti (the Most beautiful home in Finland), we got quite a few questions about the wooden curtain in the living room, concerning the measurements and how it was done. Therefore, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit an old blog post from 2013. So, the "curtain" was originally made when we were still living in our old apartment, but surprisingly few modifications were required to fit it to the living room windows in our current home.

Wonderful play of light and shadow

So, if you would like to make one it is pretty simple. First, you need some round wooden sticks (ours happen to be pine and have a diameter of about 10 mm) and screw-in hooks.

The simple essentials

Then, the hook is screwed in. The "mouth" of the hook was spread open a bit, so that it would be easier to attach the hook to through a ring.

A hook with a wide mouth

Finally, the sticks were hung to a regular curtain rail, hosting a required number of sliding rings. To make the sliding rings, we removed the curtain clip part from a regular curtain clip - sliding ring complex, just to be able to reuse something what was already available instead of shopping for anything new. Most probably you are able to buy just the sliding rings without curtain clips, which of course would be quite practical saving the step of disassembly.

Hanging in there

Finally, the only thing left to do is to hung up the sticks cut to the desired length and to organise the sticks to a preferred rhythm! Easy, quick and an excellent option if you want to try something else than curtains made of fabric!

Feb 4, 2017

Fennia Prize 2017 Grand Prix

So the other big news - Fennia Prize 2017 - Grand Prix!

Fennia Prize - the biggest design competition in Finland - is organized every second year and hosted by Design Forum Finland, the Fennia Group, Elo, and the Finnish Patent and Registration Office. This year the Fennia Prize Grand Prix was given to Merivaara Corporation for the Q-Flow™ Surgical Light, which is the latest addition to the company's portfolio of operating room systems and hospital furniture.


Pekka Kumpula, The Q-Flow & Jyrki Nieminen

Pekka's company Seos Design has collaborated with Merivaara since 2012. Together with the development team, Pekka has been advancing several projects including the definition of Merivaara's design DNA and the industrial & user interface design of several products.

Grand Prix winner

The Q-Flow™ Surgical Light - the winner of Fennia Prize 2017 Grand Prix is the tip of the iceberg, being the first of Merivaara products to be renewed during the next few years. The Q-Flow™ includes innovations to improve the level of hygiene in the operating rooms and increase personnel effectiveness.

The members of the award winning team were:
  • Design: R&D Director Jyrki Nieminen / Merivaara, 
  • Project Manager Paul Bärlund, Merivaara
  • Creative Director Pekka Kumpula / Seos Design 
  • Optical design: VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
  • Aerodynamic design: Halton Group

Fennia Prize 2017 Exhibition in Helsinki

Design Forum Finland approached Pekka some time before the award ceremony and launch of the exhibition of products recognised asking if he could design the exhibition. They aimed for festive, elegant, memorable, dark - something highlighting the products. Based on the feedback, it seems that Pekka succeeded quite well.

From Left Naava, Planmed and Merivaara

So, award winning Finnish industrial design from 17 companies, both products and services. If you have an opportunity make sure to go and visit the exhibition in Helsinki City Center (Kluuvikatu 6), it will be open until February 12 before starting a tour around Finland.

Definitely worth it!

Secto lights


Jan 27, 2017

One of the finalists!

It has been quite a journey.

In 2012 when it started we did not think about TV shows. Instead, we thought about making a home. We had too small of a budget, limited resources and time, growing family and demanding jobs. But also, a shared vision, can-do attitude and patience to take small steps.

Four years later, commitment to Suomen Kaunein Koti forced us to finish up a million incomplete projects. Given the deadline we had to stretch and simply make everything happen. So with some help from our family and friends, at 2 am the previous night, only a few hours before the production crew arrived, we finally dropped the hammer and decided to call it a day.

Not knowing what to expect it was great to notice that the production team was very easygoing but professional, efficient but creating a relaxed atmosphere. Thanks guys, it really was a fun morning!

The first appearance on the backyard (source: MTV3 Katsomo / Suomen Kaunein Koti)

After the photo shoot, we waited for nearly six months. Then, on a random day in January we saw the first ads in TV. The night when our episode was played was unbelievably exciting, as we had no idea what was coming. But it was fantastic. We simply couldn't have wished for more.

Overview (source: MTV3 Katsomo / Suomen Kaunein Koti)

We were completely blown away by the judges' comments and compliments, but also their expertise in architecture and design. They paid attention to several relevant details, and it was great to listen to their discussions. By the way, the red carpet to mark our favourite spot just needed to be in the living room next to the Eames Lounge Chair!

The Red Carpet and the Three Judges (source: MTV3 Katsomo / Suomen Kaunein Koti)

"Good planning allows less depth in a countertop" (source: MTV3 Katsomo / Suomen Kaunein Koti)

"Is there an acoustic panel on the back...?" (source: MTV3 Katsomo / Suomen Kaunein Koti)

And the final outcome got us screaming! Of course we thought it would be nice to make it to the finals, but to do that with a top score did not cross our minds. We are happy, excited and really eager to see how this journey continues.

So when the time comes, please - don't forget to vote!

The Perfect Thirty! (source: MTV3 Katsomo / Suomen Kaunein Koti)


(all photos are screenshots from Suomen Kaunein Koti 2017 episode 3: Omalla tyylillä by MTV3)

Jan 23, 2017

Simply a great week

It's been a great week. 

First, the results of Fennia Prize 2017, Finland's biggest design competition for companies and organizations, were announced on Thursday. The Fennia Prize Grand Prix was given to Merivaara Corporation for Q-flow surgical light. Guess who was responsible for the industrial design? 

Then today, our home won the first step of Suomen Kaunein Koti (the Most Beautiful Home in Finland) competition. We will be up against the nine other finalists for the first prize. The judges really, really seemed to like our home and after all the work we have put into the project, it felt fantastic. It was great that so many of you supported us during the show

More about both really soon. First, it is time to celebrate!


Jan 20, 2017

Pieces of history - meeting with architect Lappo

While anxiously waiting for Monday, we thought it might be interesting to focus a bit to the early days of our home. Therefore, if you are curious about the very beginning, please revisit a very special blog post from the past. 

About two years ago we were honored to invite professor emeritus Osmo Lappo, the architect of our home, for a visit. Lappo, born in 1927, is one of the central figures of modern concrete architecture in Finland. Among his most recognised work is the Vekarajärvi barracks in Kouvola, Finland, which was built between 1966-1975 and is a great representative of the concrete brutalism era emphasising construction materials and techniques. The Vekarajärvi barracks have received a recognition of an important architectural and environmental site both by Docomomo and the Finland National Board of Antiquities. More generally, Lappo's work includes a wide variety of residential, commercial and public buildings. 

Architect Lappo

For our pleasant delight, professor Lappo arrived with several original photos by photographer Simo Rista form 1960's brilliantly illustrating the early days of our home. Browsing through the photos with Lappo's guidance took us right back to the very early days of the project, when Loviisa Agnisbäck, the owner of Ängskulla estate sold the land to Väinö E. Koskinen. Koskinen was the owner of a construction company responsible for building Niittykumpu region for the City of Espoo.

Koskinen had originally met Lappo in 1950's when they were working together in another project in Helsinki. As their earlier collaboration had been very successful, Koskinen invited Lappo to be the lead architect also in the Niittykumpu project.


View from backyard (photo by Simo Rista)

At that time, Danish architecture had a significant influence also in Finland - for example, many buildings were made of brick and had an atrium terrace. Lappo, as well, was following the prevailing trends of the 1960's, and was to include these elements in his design.


Back to the sixties (photo by Simo Rista)

It was not only our residence Lappo and Koskinen were working on in Niittykumpu, but actually the entire region including several different apartment buildings. To add variability and prevent buildings looking too similar, after the initial drafts Lappo assigned different project architects from his studio to work with each building. This was an approach he adopted while working in Viljo Revell's office during the early years of his career.


Plan for Niittykumpu region (original photos by Simo Rista)

A crucial consideration was the quality of the site where the foundations of buildings were to be laid. Basically, the buildings were located to areas where conditions were favourable. Also, for some apartments the chosen design reflects the site conditions - in one of the buildings, namely the "Pillar Building", has no basement and the ground floor is replaced by a string of massive pillars, as the site was too soft to support these structures.

There were already some houses on one side of Niittykumpu which needed to be taken into account when considering the areal set up. Therefore, the goal was to complement the existing infrastructure and surrounding nature as well as possible, which had a big influence on certain decisions. 


South view to Niittykumpu (photo by Simo Rista)

The construction process of our apartment building was quite fast. The design was completed during summer 1963, construction work started immediately and the apartments were ready in 1964. According to Lappo, very few changes were made during the process, as the plans were comprehensive and thus followed quite faithfully. At that time, Koskinen's company did not have the supporting infrastructure or cranes to build by using prefabricated elements, so all the work was conducted on site manually.

First, as soon as the design fundamentals were locked, the team started by building models to be able to work with the details, including e.g. the atrium terrace. The models were also useful when Koskinen was discussing with potential buyers. 


Original model, back view (photo by Simo Rista)
Original model, side view (photo by Simo Rista)

On top of the hill, the street and rock limited the shape of the building resulting in a serrated form in front. As a result, the back of the building followed the same serrated pattern, also complementing the surrounding nature as well as the existing small buildings further down the hill very well.


Protected front entrance (photo by Simo Rista)



Serrated form from the back (photo by Simo Rista)

The original windows were made of regular window glass units. Each window was also divided in three parts to enable efficient cleaning from both sides. The outside window glass could be opened to clean the inner surfaces, but the glass inside was fixed to the frame to prevent the escape of warm air. A few of the ten apartments still have the original window set up, but in our apartment the glass has been replaced by contiguous double-glazed insulated glass units, which no longer need to open for cleaning.


Discussing windows (original photos by Simo Rista)


None of the atrium terraces were covered, as the decision was left for the future owners to do what they wanted - first to decide whether they wanted a roof or not, and then the design of the roof. Also, originally all units were drawn with a second door in the living room leading to the atrium terrace. However, as the buyers were able to make changes during construction, it may have not been built to all apartments.


 Original windows (photo by Simo Rista)


In general, the upper level in all units was quite similar. More buyer specific adaptations were made downstairs, resulting in more variability between the units. Back in 1960's, Finnish tax regulations made it beneficial to limit the actual living area of an apartment to 119.5 m2. This meant the downstairs ceiling height and window size were limited, and in official plans the space was named an area for e.g. arts and crafts or storage. Some buyers added a cold room, and consequently the waste heat from cooling the cold room was captured to contribute to downstairs heating. Half of downstairs are was left unbuild, as at that time it would have been very expensive to do the mining and blasting work required.


Downstairs model (photo by Simo Rista)

Lappo's team was also responsible for the kitchen design, and the cabinets and other structures were manufactured by Turenki Sugar Factory carpenters (a contact of Koskinen). At that time, there were only a few kitchen manufacturers and thus existing contacts who were not necessarily specialised in kitchen manufacturing were used.


Kitchen area back then (photo by Simo Rista)

After a few hours of great discussion and revision of piles of pictures and plans it was time to say goodbye. For us, it was really a true honor and beyond pleasure to meet professor Lappo in person and discuss his work, our home, which clearly plays a very significant role in our lives right now. We really appreciate he so kindly took the time to meet us. It is not very often you get an opportunity to dig a bit deeper to historical details, and especially with the guidance of the architect himself. 

Architect Osmo Lappo

References:
  1. Interview with Osmo Lappo (November 23, 2014)
  2. Osmo Lappo introduction by the Museum of Finnish Architecture (January 25, 2015) 
  3. Niittykumpu by Osmo Lappo, Sanna Lahti 2003, Master's Thesis, Helsinki University of Technology
  4. All original pictures by Simo Rista 1963-1964 published with a permission of Osmo Lappo, who owns the rights to the photos. Please do not copy or use without permission.