Finnish Design in DC

It’s so cool to come back to a space I’ve previously written about, and see it used in the ways
it’s intended. That’s what happened last night when Jim and I were invited to a private piano
concert at Finnish Ambassador Kirsti Kauppi’s residence in Massachusetts Avenue Heights, less
than a mile from her embassy.

When I first wrote about her predecessor Ritva Koukku-Ronde’s extensive redecoration to reflect modern Finnish design (“Finnish Line,” in DC Magazine, 2014), I walked through the
elegant home’s grand public spaces with only the embassy’s press officer—and the ambassador
herself. I felt privileged to have a private audience with the ambassador, of course, but as we
talked about how the expansive reception rooms and dining room functioned for big parties, I
could only imagine the well-dressed crowds coming through.

Last night, I was actually among them! In this kind of reception, however, it would have been rude to whip out my phone and start taking pictures. But the Finnish Embassy did send over a shot of Ambassador Kauppi and pianist Laura Mikkola, following a stunning hour-long concert:

flowers

Trust me, the room was packed. Despite my sad lack of images (a party photographer I am NOT), here’s a look at the gorgeous design that inhabits the rooms when they’re not filled with people.

When the piano's not in use, it's in the corner of this gorgeous ballroom. All photography by Greg Powers.

When the piano’s not in use, it’s in the corner of this living room. Eero Saarinen’s womb chairs sit handsomely over a rug stitched from old Turkish rugs. Painting by Milla Kuisma. All photography by Greg Powers.

 

Alvar Aalto pendant lights and arm chairs pop in the lounge.

Alvar Aalto pendant lights and arm chairs pop in the lounge.

 

Trunk-like ceramic sculptures by Kristinia Risky stand sentry in the loung next to the dining room entry.

Tall trunk-like ceramic sculptures by Kristina Riska stand sentry in the lounge next to the dining room entry.

 

Oiva Toikka's famous glass bird sculptures for the Finnish design company Iittala line the mantel across from the sectional in the lounge.

Oiva Toikka’s famous glass bird sculptures for the Finnish design company Iittala line the mantel across from the sectional in the lounge.

 

A table and chairs designed by Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen's father, anchor the sunny morning room.

A table and chairs designed by Eliel Saarinen, Eero Saarinen’s father, anchor the sunny morning room.

 

The reception parlor off the foyer is grounded with armchairs and a pendant by Alvar Aalto.

The reception parlor off the foyer is grounded with armchairs and a pendant by Alvar Aalto.

The Helsinki-based firm Protest Design handled the interior design, and it’s still just as fresh as it was when I first saw it in 2014. I feel privileged to be able to sample so much international design without ever leaving my home town!

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Comments

  1. Wow, those arm chairs are stunning, especially the black ones in the lobby. Great post Jennifer. 🙂

  2. You get to do some of the most interesting things! How rewarding it really must be to come “back” to a space within a different circumstance. Happy holiday weekend!