Story cafe-restaurant by Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio, Helsinki – Finland

June 16th, 2014 by retail design blog

Right in the heart of seaside Helsinki, the Old Market Hall reopens to a new chapter. The gem of the market hall is Story, the cafe-restaurant opened June 9th right in the high-ceilinged middle section. Behind Story are Finland’s finest restaurateurs Anders Westerholm, Matti Sarkkinen, Teemu Aura and Markus Hurskainen. Everything with Story adds up: an exquisite milieu, top chefs and patissiers, experts of fine wines and service, and a love for the handmade and the best ingredients. Story also boasts Helsinki’s finest seating by the waterfront. The tables offer views of the brand new Helsinki Sky Wheel, as well as the sea.

Story shapes the whole outlook of the new Old Market Hall
Restaurant Story’s interiors will freshen up the whole Old Market Hall. The central part of the hall is grandiose, livening up the market hall like never before. The restaurant space has been designed by interior architect Joanna Laajisto and her team. – Story’s interior gives homage to the original feel and history of the market hall, but placing it in a new time with a modern yet relaxed twist. The challenge was to get the high-ceilinged hall space to feel intimate, instead of a space to pass through. I believe we managed to grant Helsinki a space that has been missing from here, Joanna Laajisto reflects.

The Old Market Hall was first opened in 1889 and is a cultural heritage site protected by the National Board of Antiquities, with whom the refurbishment was planned. The interior decoration fits the original architecture, but brings a new, fresh flavour with a modern touch. The materials used are classic, natural ones, such as oak, leather and stone. Story is situated in the middle of the market hall, a space originally used for loading horse carriages. Because the space in question is a transit area for market hall visitors, the cafe-restaurant is split into three parts, separated by wide walkways.

In the middle of Story, the oak-paneled kitchen is joined by a storage space above. The front of the structure has a large wooden shelf with chalkboards painted in custom-tinted blue color. A sizeable counter with stone composite tiles in herringbone pattern is placed in the heart of the space. The side facing the city – with its relaxed seating arrangements – is separated by a wooden half wall with herb pots. Joanna Laajisto’s custom-made Edit2 lamps, a new version of her Edit lamp, light up the tables next to it. On the side facing the sea, a platform invites to enjoy the unique views of the harbor. Seating booths made of oak and lined with leather are complemented by a black metal shelf. Edit2 lamps create an intimate atmosphere on this side as well. The large pendants are by Zero.

Laajisto has found many custom-made solutions to the heritage questions at hand. The lighting installation called for creativity as the lamps were not allowed to be hung from the 10-metre high ceiling. Laajisto also came up with a fun detail fitting with the feel of the market hall: wire fish traps from the summer house of one the owners found a new life as lamps over the long tables in the middle of the space.

Story’s tables are designed and handmade by Helsinki’s own wood artisan Tebian. The idea of this kind of a table had already been shaping up for a while in his mind. – At last I found the perfect, classy enough space for this example of detailed constructivism. It is classically me, says Tebian. The colourful chairs and decorations are in line with design agency Fabel’s playful and colourful graphic design, contributing to a youthful and fresh space.

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