The Power of Scandi

I have been following the Nordic destination marketing for about 20 years as I started studying tourism and marketing communications in the mid 90′s. A lot has changed in marketing and communication since, but the basic essentials in destination and nation branding are still the same. However, the ‘scandi’ everything from food and fashion to lifestyle and liveability is probably hotter than ever right now.

The scandi aesthetics and lifestyle are on lips of aplenty. LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability) is our middle name. We’ve always lived by, in, from and with nature as most of us still lived in the countryside until 70’s. Urbanism reached us later than in the rest of Europe. We are just learning how to live in cities. We are also a region where grey is considered as a colour, referring to our long and lightless winters with plenty of water in all of its forms from ice and snow to slush and crust and everything in between.

Modern and Modest, MoMo, is a ‘new’ term in literature and architecture describing the suburban homes of over a million Finns and even more Swedes or Danes. MoMo is our case study house, from the fifties to seventies, as urbanism became a dream for many of us in search of a better life in the cities along with rising urban status. Surprisingly, MoMo is also hotter than ever.

Minimalism, natural experiences and the sound of silence have popped up again in the tourist brochures. The Norwegians are Powered by Nature. You can get Inspired in Iceland. The Danes ride open with their bikes and the power of the wind (and their famous Hygge), while Sweden manifests to be The New Culinary Nation. We Finns are balancing somewhere there in the middle with our Wild & Free, Culture Beat and Silence Please. The Sámi people have also awaken to promote their rich culture and the darkness of the north by newly established Visit Sápmi.

Wellness is in the core from yoga to Yasuragi (a Japanese spa in Lidingö, Stockholm). In Finland you can even go ant watching in the forests, grab cold treatment in minus 110°celcius or get light therapy in your ears. You are supposed to have or do close to nothing. Or devote your holiday for the body and brain. Ski touring is soon more popular than ice hockey. Suddenly the scandi-powered tourism is about the back of our forests, lakes and mountains being the front of the
brochures, stories and communications.

One thing in common to all – and not only of the Nordic countries – is storytelling. We want the world to know about us and about our lifestyle. Even we Finns, finally, are brave enough to tell the world who we are, where we are going to, and where do we come from (although according to a recent study still nobody knows, really). Visit Finland launched a series of films about Paula, The Lighthouse Keeper or Sulo, The Bear-Hugger. Sweden has their crowd source Twitter account while Icelanders, the president included, invite visitors openly to their homes to learn about the lives on the extreme island.

There are quite many LOHAS type of tourism products and services emerging. Lodging, in this case, offers simplicity, modern luxury, aesthetics and cosiness – the Scandinavian way – modern and modest. Here a few places you probably know which are some of the top-sellers in this category:

/ Stokkoya, Norway
www.stokkoya.no

/ Juvet, Norway
www.juvet.com

/ Tree House, Sweden
www.treehotel.se

/ Furillen, Sweden
www.furillen.com

/ Island Lodge, Sweden
www.islandlodge.se

/ Snow Castle, Finland
www.snowcastle.net

/ Igloo Hotel, Finland
www.kakslauttanen.fi

/ Havsvidden, Åland (autonomous part of Finland)
www.havsvidden.com

and a newly opened bonus from Canada:

/ Fogo Island Inn, Newfoundland
www.fogoislandinn.ca

The accessible remoteness has become priceless. Think – here you are 50 kilometres (45 minutes) away from a metropolitan of 1,5 million people. The quietness is sometimes quite absurd, as we are witnessing it here on our island all year round. Sometimes you see a fox in a week – and that’s it. The only sound being cracking of the ice or a snowstorm roaring in the corners. It feels even the animals keep quiet as the snow softens their sounds.

We only wonder were are the tourists – as there would be an enormous potential for guided tours and accommodation in the area. What an experience for someone new as we are still amazed every time we get out here. Rain or shine, winter or summer or anything in between.

Scandinavian modern luxury is about a hot tub, not a jacuzzi. It’s about a relaxed sauna, not a water park. It’s about bird watching, not a seal-safari. It’s about a summer kitchen in the open, not the Michelin Stars. Or that is at least how I see it. It is about the simple things around us in life that make you happy. The thrill is in exploring something you did not know is there. And very often those little things are the ones that in the end count the most. I’m talking about a soul-warming fish-soup, open fire, woollen socks, wild meat sausages or sea-buckthorns, fresh mushrooms, rhubarb, raspberries and grass-onion growing naturally in the hood, home-baked bread, berries from the back of our islands or handicraft from the region. Things that also tell a great story – even a simple one.

The power of Scandi is a power for life.

Hei from Helsinki!

It’s been a while since my last post.
More than a while, actually.

a) I have moved one, two, three, four times. Nevertheless my official address still remains in Stockholm.

b) I have a new family member, a Gordon Setter called Aapo (who minds me writing right now by shretching his paw at me, as he does every time he is seeking for attention).

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 19.29.45

c) I worked for about two years at World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 office bringing design and tourism into one. The official farewell party was held only a week ago.

Now I am relaxing by the fire at our island house about 45 minutes from a metropolis of 1,5 million people. There is nobody here – except the birds, foxes, rabbits, deers and occasionally sound of cracking ice. Yesterday evening a blizzard hit the southern coast, roaring in the corners and throwing snowflakes size of a thumb at us.

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We have been coming out here a lot never minding about winter. Christmas & New Year feels like ages ago. Eventually the ice is strong enough to carry a scooter – it only takes about 10 minutes to travel here from the mainland. The weather has been perfect: beautiful sunny crispy wintery days filled with light, joy and calmness – and hot chocolate. We only wonder were are the tourists? There would be an enormous potential for guided tours and accommodation in the area. What an experience for someone new as we are still amazed every time we get out here.

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Shades of gray

Autumn is kind of sneaking in, though we’ve had some amazing warm and sunny days.

Been trying to settle in living in the city, carrying things back up in packages from the cellar and ordering some new kitchen furniture. It’ll be mysigt. The house in Finland is getting ready, bit by bit, (still) waiting for the kitchen delivery. We’ll be heading out to the island for the w-e. Besides trying to figure out what to do this winter, I’ve been busy with jobhunt.

In the meantime I’ve been trying to work out by jogging in Djurgården with the cows (feeling very homey indeed)… and trying to get used to big malls, suits and latest fashion running in the city. I’m just so not used to queus or crowds – other than early mornings by the lift stations! Also been out on a few road(day)trips to breath some fresh air by the islands and sea. Went for a little hike in Torö, and just as I got there, it started pouring rain… On my way I stopped by at the local super market (size of a football field) in Nynäshamn and there was – 3 – THREE – customers! I was feeling oh so Swedish as I found this Kalas blåbärssoppa and had to bought it for lunch avec croissants (call it cross kitchen). Then I was all zen alone on the beach watching clowds passing by and picking some beautiful round stones to bring back home :-)

Will put together a little video of the past amazing 22 months as my free days are running short. It has been so much joy. But mostly it’s been learning, about life, cultures, places and myself, plus meeting new wonderful people, who all have made this time absolutely priceless. And most thanks to Jari, who has been with me for all those foggy, wet, rainy days in our little island cabin or on top of a clowdy mountain, when we both have seen and shared more than just the shades of gray…

Bob The Builder

Some pictures from the house in July – floor installation and some heavy maintenance, since we had to move the concrete-made kitchen oas, which only weights about 1500kg…. Needed 4 adults and 2 cranes to make the move.

Now we are eagerly waiting for our kitchen delivery, which is due week 36. Our Finnish producers are hunting wood all the way in Germany. Not so local or sustainable after all… We on the other side of sea seek a concrete bath tub form and try to be creative. And old boat, perhaps? Kind of tricky. Anyway, we found a bedroom shelfing system so happy about one thing done on my list. Now off to the world of lighting, I need to drive by car to get ten heavy catalogues from a friend.

Until next update!

au revoir Chamonix – hejsan Stockholm

Jasså. Just det. Vadå?

Ohlalaa. 4,5 months of powder, sun, friends, good times, snowflakes, pastis, soul food, whiteouts, croissants, mountains, apres-ski and endless happiness has come to an end. Last sunday I packed once again, this time to return home to Stockholm.

Feels overwhelming to try to find words to describe the last months, which have been just so totally beyound perfect. I had good intentions to post stories more often that I eventually did. Guess time is considered luxury even when enjoying the power of time off…

This season we did a lot more skiing in the Italian side of Courmayeur, a lot less randos than planned (since the snow conditions) and simply just a lot of powderdays in general. Last year we were in CHX until 9th May, this year ended about 2 weeks earlier (but we got started about 2 months earlier :-D) All in all, I ended up spending around 80 days on skis. Kikus, I mean. They’re not skis, they’re like drivin’ Fiat500 from the back seat…

Oh, well, all good things come to an end. Though have dreamed of skiing for a week now. Guess it got under my skin. The feeling of a great day out. The smooth powder. The endless views. The sun. The snow. The mountains. The valleys. The wind blowing on your face at 20 m/s. The frosty toes. The whiteout. The crusty pack. The everything. All of it. You know what I mean. And it just feels soooo goooood! And I miss it sooooo much!

A time jump from mountains, snow and slowlife, I went for a sunday walk in a buzzing, big city today. Felt 101% tourist in my hometown. Captured some spring moments in pics – enjoy.

Some spottings

As I have been off the radar for a while due to illnesses, my brain’s still been working over drive. I have been reading and surfing, exploiring and digging, meeting and spotting. Wanted to share some of my visions, spottings and experiences from the last few weeks about trends, travel and social media.

I. Travel by iPhone

I’ve been playing around with the different iPhone apps related to travel (Wallpaper FREE Berlin guide, North Face snowreport, NY Art Beat, Gowalla & Foursquare, found even a Design District Helsinki application! YEY!). Foursquare is making deals in the US; posted a few articles on this from Mashable at my FB profile and tweets. Also watched a few videos about online publishing for tomorrow (for the iPad): Bonniers and Wired – the Barcelona selected guide is working already forward to this way… not to mention virtual travel..check out the Trans Siberian railway article at PSFK or latest TED talk by Blaise Aguera y Arcas on Bing augmented reality maps. Cool stuff!!

II. It’s cooking

Have found some good blogs & websites covering trends and travel among other stuff (spotcoolstuff.com, outside.in, treehugger.com, communitiesofthefuture.com, trendsmap.com, littlediggs.com…) I have also activated myself on twitter and started to follow lots of people and organizations. There is plenty relevant (and irrelevant) out there! But i feel i’ve found a few sweet spots. I also read about the Finnish project called nopsa travel agency – nopsatravels, which is a totally new concept of sustainable travel. Have a read: nopsatravels.com (think it’s only in Finnish….) it totally compresses the whole thing about sustainability into a practical level and it is very much worth the PELOTON prize! And remember fluxury?

III. Trends in cities

There was a relatively good read at Travel and Leisure about 2010 travel trends: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/top-travel-trends-of-2010, also the magazine Viewpoint (made by The Future Laboratory) had a perfect roundup about future communities and citizens.

“There will be self-sufficient small villages and self-built homes, car free zones. Hyperlocalism is a growing trend that is already seeing everything from fashion to bicycles to media and food being sourced, produced and sold wholly within local communities. These rurbans are predominantly to buy and consume goods that have been produced in the local vincinity. This encompasses food, via vertical farms, rooftop beekeeping, and urban allotments; transport solutions such as Bowery Line Bicycles, produced start to finish in Brooklyn, clothing, including Melbourne fashion store Lupa, which sells only Melbourne-made fashion and art; and media – user-generated newspapers that cross with blogs are springing from the UK to Canada. Rurbans live in or use vertical farms and create viable urban gardens that fulfil all their food needs. In NY, hte Gotham Greens hydroponic rooftop farm is endorced by Mayor Bloomberg; London recently appointed its first “food czar”; and the recent competition bids to rebuild Paris envisioned select parks being tilled for vegetable and fruit production…”

IV. Cabin fever

The latest trend form this altitude (1085m above sea level) is old tiny warehouses renovated into fluxury habitats. There are not many, yet a few, 1800′s really small, typical alp storages in Chamonix, that have been renovated into skilodges. These shelters were originally used as a storage area for nearby located farm and other housing. They did not have any windows, just a door. Normally, these buildings have three floors (to store wheat in a dry place), each floor area about 9 squaremeters. So they might be tiny, but nevertheless cosy. People are now hunting these few buildings left to be used as getaways instead of the traditional luxury villas in the valley, redoing them to modern and mobile homes.

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Let it snow

Since we arrived in December it has been snowing almost EVERY day. We have been skiing fresh powder on a daily basis, which is nice. In addition to perfect snow conditions it has been perfectly COLD.
Yesterday morning temperature dropped to -15 in Les Tines. I’m glad I have my bootwarmers. Can’t live without them.

The snow cover has thickened as well on the glaciers, which allows some fantastic skiing, but unfortunately does not stop the accidents. Last week a snowboarder fell down fatal 20 meters to a crevasse on a popular tourist route at Vallee Blanche. Downtown just by our place before the ascent to Le Lavancher authorities are stopping traffic and checking on proper winter equipment. This is a typical scene in front of our house on snowy days – socks on, socks off…

Christmas went by as did New Year’s. We enjoyed some powder days in Courmayeur, where it dumped for three days while it rained in CHX. Back home the house was full of sweet kids and merry adults, flying helicopters, spidermans, dinosauruses and even Santa came by. Hedda spent nearly two weeks skiing with us liking it a lot. She is coming again for a week soon. It will be fun!

After Hedda left, we went on a first tour to Trient with Björn and Heidi. The latter part was like walk in a park…


I have been testing a new pair of fat skis. They are like a smooth operator in deep snow (and, oh, did I mention there has been a lot of it)!

winter wonderland

Bonjour a tous,

New home, new mailbox, new helmet, new poles and a new season ahead!
After sitting tight and eating fastfood in a car for the past 3 days we are finally at our new home in France.
Temperature -13 celcius and heavy snowfall :-)

I lost my phone on the way and we forgot to pack the poles, but otherwise life is good. We did some additional shoppin yesterday and picked the season passes at Montevers station. The house feels like a castle: after living 7 months in 25 squaremeters (and driving home by boat), suddenly we have wifi, 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, and a garage! I am especially happy about the wifi because now I can post more stuff more often. Here are some hazy moods from this morning. You just got to love it, don’t you?

Back to the barn

We have finally found our wall to be! This piece of barn is from Southern Finland. Still standing before it will be ripped down for us to set it back again – for wallpaper. It will be a giant puzzle, let me tell you… But isn’t she a real beauty?

Ps. I also like our new countryside-car! ;-) 

anotherbarn

barn

wall

surfcar