on the occasion of finland’s 100 years of independence, the building of the finnish institute of culture in paris has been transformed into a hotel. designed by linda bergroth, KOTI — meaning ‘home’ in finnish — celebrates the shared experience of a summer-cottage sleepover in finland. the living pop-up installation is comprised of six cottages available to book on airbnb for 100 days from january till may 2017. with luxury of simplicity in mind, the project takes into consideration the meaning of home and the value of sharing new experiences.
designboom was invited to spend the night at KOTI and experience a summer-cottage sleepover brought over from finland into the heart of paris. read below our interview with linda bergroth, KOTI’s designer and creative director.
fully equipped with a hand-picked selection of emerging finnish designers, KOTI has been specially created to immerse its up to 12 guests in nordic culture. as finnish people do in their own homes, guests are expected to remove their shoes upon entering. the experience tends to be quite intimate with the other guests because the cottages are not soundproof. this means all noise can be heard around the space and inside the cabins. in the morning, a finnish breakfast is served along a wooden communal table, complete with coffee and traditional specialties such as rye bread, salted butter and dry berries.
DESIGNBOOM: can you tell us a little more about the traditional finnish cottages called aitta? and can you guide us through this contemporary interpretation you did.
LINDA BERGROTH: the culture of going to the summer cottage is very strong in finland because of the climate. winter is winter and the summer is the festival that continues all year. the places are super humble, kind of like a holiday home. what is common is that they run in the family and very often many generations co-own them at the same time and when families get bigger, they start adding their own cottage. little by little, they become this tiny villages of cottages.
they are super organic with the gabled form, not planned but rather depending on how the family grows. what’s nice is the social part of it because many families and many generations get together, and it’s not like someone is a host and someone a guest; everyone is host and guest at the same time. this feels very contemporary, especially now that there’s a sharing economy such as uber, airbnb and this traditional roles of host and guest are blurred. this makes the project feel fresh again and that was the starting point.
there’s a building type ‘aitta’ which is always a wood thing without windows because they are expensive. it’s a humble building so it’s used for storage or a guest room, with a minimum of things. it has a bed, maybe a stool, a candle and a mirror. and that’s what we wanted to reinterpret here. I remember that as a child it was kind of creepy or scary experience, I’m not sure if this is good but I thought it would be a great starting point to transform that into something that can be aesthetically and architecturally nice.
we have six cabins and four cabin types sleeping up to twelve people and they’re all built inside this building but there’s no sound insulation. it’s not a hotel or your own cottage, it’s a sleepover and everyone is a host and a guest at the same time. it’s a social experience where we want to give a nice frame and see how guests interact; if it’s good or bad, we still don’t know.
DB: you also did the art direction, can you tell us a little about what you chose, what things are new and what was made especially for this?
LB: so I did the concept then the architecture. I thought about minimum living, what do you need? a bed and the furniture. I invited finnish designers, brands and manufacturers that I felt fitted the role. everyone is specialized in a certain material. lapuan kankurit – a family company celebrating 100 years and is based in the west of finland where linen is traditionally evolving the cities. they normally do kitchen textiles and it’s the first time they’ve done bed linens, specially for this project. then there is nikari, a wooden carpenter company, and mattila & merz were the architect cabin-makers who did the furniture series just for this project and it’s going to be manufactured by nikari, they also did the benches, tables and beds. innolux, a finnish company specialized in the medical lighting sector where you can create an artificial sunrise, influencing your brain making you feel like it’s the sun. then we have a breakfast included, all finnish food, and all the ceramics are done by natalie lahdenmäki and finally there’s studio kaksikko doing the homeware so the coffee pot and hand mirrors in the cabins.
DB: what is your idea of the perfect home?
LB: I have two homes; one in paris, one in finland, plus two summer cabins. home for me is not just one of them but all. I recently moved to a new place because I thought the old one was so bad and now I’m missing it so much. now I understand that home is a love affair, it’s a place where you feel something and I don’t believe it needs to be about your career and money. very often it’s like meeting someone and they tick only one box, but for you that’s enough and you’re in love; with home it’s the same, just one simple thing can mean the world to me. I believe in many houses, each ticking different boxes and for me that’s home.
DB: what do you want us to take from the experience?
LB: it’s interesting because it’s not a hotel. so you come and make it your own, it’s a social experience! this is new for all of us and nothing has been planned so I just hope you get a taste of finland in the heart of paris. and enjoy breakfast, that’s for sure.
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