Finnish designer Joanna Laajisto has completed an office in Helsinki for service design company Fjord, featuring spaces for casual meetings and soft furnishings that offer a homely feel. Having outgrown its current Helsinki studio, Fjord asked Laajisto’s studio to help create a new workplace that reflects its brand and provides a space where employees from around the world can feel comfortable. Despite a lot of the company’s work focusing on digital services and technology, Laajisto was determined to provide an environment with a welcoming and friendly feel, where all necessary technology is concealed.
“Elegant, unconventional and human – those were the starting points of our design process,” said Laajisto, whose other projects in the Finnish capital include a restaurant featuring corrugated metal walls and marble furniture. “This is an office primarily made for employees to feel at home, and the wow factor for outsiders comes from what the space feels like, not merely from its looks,” she said. To achieve the warm and tactile effect demanded in the brief, Laajisto used natural materials throughout the 1,000-square-metre space, including oak flooring, sisal carpets and linen curtains. These are accompanied by plenty of plants.
Several kitchens and lounge areas contribute to the domestic feel of the studio. These spaces allow staff to hold informal meetings or relax, eat and chat in a comfortable and casually furnished setting. The rooms are separated by full-height glazed partitions, featuring delicate black metal frames that allow natural light from the large windows to flood into the interior. The glass walls incorporate sliding panels that can be opened to connect the spaces if required. The same system is used to provide privacy to booths where phone calls can be made without any distractions.
The client was keen for the majority of furnishings and products to be of Finnish origin, which led Laajisto to specify pieces including Artek’s Rival chairs for the meeting rooms and Knoll’s Womb chairs by Finnish designer Eero Saarinen for the lounge areas. The living rooms also feature large rugs from Woodnotes and mobile-like pendant lamps designed by Laajisto and designer Pasi Kärkkäinen. In the kitchens, cabinets are painted green to complement the natural material palette. Furniture includes Ilmari Tapiovaara’s Domus chairs alongside oak tables and benches from Finnish brand Nikari.
“Our people are very proud of our new office space and they are constantly inviting people to come and see it,” added Fjord Helsinki’s service design lead, Stéphanie Del Rey. “When planning the space and its furniture, we wanted it to be very adaptable. Now we can use the studio in various versatile ways; people even use it in their spare time for movie nights and casual hang-outs.” Laajisto founded her Helsinki studio in 2010. Other past projects include a restaurant with green panelling, white tiles and marble slabs lining its walls and a collection of modular storage units with boxes based on standard paper sizes.
Design: Studio Joanna Laajisto