Visit to Helsinki and Why I like Scandinavia

Three weeks ago I’ve visited Helsinki. This small trip inspired me to write a post with my impression about this nordic city and my thoughts on how it can impact on the way we designing.

I didn't expect anything unusual visiting Helsinki. But it was such an awesome experience. It feels almost instantly that it's a part of Scandinavia. Not only in general but in details. You just feel it when you walk on the streets. There is a lot of space for pedestrians and separated lines for bicycles. So simply when you have a walk in a place like this you have a good feeling that it made for people. I mean that Finnish people don't sacrifice this space to make wider roads for cars, for example. And you can notice that people respect each other's comfort zone. Usually, they don't cross the road in centimeters right next to you, they wait if you take a photo. If you're standing on the tram station then Finns save some space between you and them.

I still remember this taste of coffee with a cinnamon bun. I heard that Finns love coffee more than anyone else in the world. And they pay attention making it very good. It's better to try it in some authentic place there. But if describe it quickly then it just feels so consistent. Not like a water with coffee aroma but like a solid drink which you don't want to mix with a sugar or something else. It's just perfect. And a cinnamon bun a great addition to it. When you taste something like this then again you just feel this Scandinavian attitude.

Of course, you understand a lot more things when you leave there as a local, but I read emotions of people for many years. And I can intuitively tell who see their life as a bunch of problems and if they undervalued. Or if people accept their life and understand if they want to change something then they'll do it. So they have will power to change their lives how they want it. The great example of it is how they spend their weekend time. A lot of people jogging, having Nordic walking (originally Finnish sauvakävely). Gyms on weekend are not empty at all. I know that if people do have some training in any kind if sport then they have a better will power. And it changes a lot especially if a good percentage of folks who live in one place think in this way.

A lot of places reminded me Stockholm. They have similar parts of the city on archipelagos. The architecture looks the same in some districts. And language sounds similar to Swedish. Even names of streets end on “gatan” (street on Swedish). Just like in Stockholm. Colored houses painted in similar colors as in Gamla Stan. Don't want to say that it's a copy in some places and don't want to confuse you with it if you've never been to Helsinki or Stockholm. I just found the same Scandinavian style in some parts of the city. The style that I like for many reasons. Maybe it just no so bright and catchy. And a space being used wisely in it. I noticed the same tendency to not cover windows with curtains. Not in so many places as in Stockholm but still enough to remember this charming openness of people. That good feeling when people don't hide from you anything. I think that this kind of things makes people more direct. Personally me, I don't like insincerity and when I was in Sweden and Helsinki I felt that people in common don't have this attitude. I wouldn't say that all the people are totally direct and sincere there. Don't have much experience interacting with Scandinavians. And even more, I had good and bad experience talking with them. However, it feels like a lot of people support this sincere and open attitude.

By observing a number of situations, I've just got a desire to learn the same kind of attitude. To be direct and sincere. Sometimes it's hard to approach this with people who are opposite to it and you can have a pressure because of different points of view. So the best what you can do is just to avoid this kind of talks to save your own point of view and to not create any conflicts. Actually, mentality of place where I was born is opposite to Scandinavian which is not good in my opinion. So applying this sincere and open attitude is a harsh way for me. But I have a right feeling when people interact in that way and it makes things simple and better.

I noticed a number of things about Scandinavia in terms of design and I think it reflects their attitude in things like architecture, inventions, service etc. Fins are known for their design legacy. Which is rooted in simplicity and puts function over form.

The pace of living seems calmer. I didn't feel that I need to run somewhere. In some places, there are no people at all. Shopping centers, cafes, restaurants and service places opens slowly around noon at weekends. Some places simply just closed. People are not in a rush. They respect their time.

Written here maybe sounds too good to be true. I don't say that there are any negative sides. But I just want to concentrate on a positive side. And I want to share only best what I saw and felt. Hopefully, it will inspire you on something good.

Have a great week,

Max

P.S. I'm writing a book on remote work and business for creatives, which you can pre-order now. I have no comments area here, Tweet me your questions if you have.

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