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Joanna Laajisto is a professional snowboarder turned interior architect and designer. She is hugely talented and admired – We are definite fans! Her work was featured numerous times on Nordic Design, as well as her gorgeous home (here and here). She is the creative mind behind fantastic interiors of popular nightclubs and restaurants, such as LeRoy, Ox, Michel, Intro and Bier Bier, to name a few. Her philosophy is “not to clutter this world with unnecessary things but to find the hidden beauty of a space and to enhance it by creative solutions.”
We wanted to know more about this Helsinki-based interior designer we love, and she kindly agreed to answer our questions.
1. Tell us more about yourself. How did it all started?
“I was spending a lot of time in California as a professional snowboarder in my early twenties and eventually decided I would like to start studying there also. So I did my BA degree in Interior Architecture there and got an internship which turned into a 5 year job at Gensler architects in LA. When I started expecting our first child, after total of 8 years in US, I decided to move back to Finland and to start my own firm.
2. Best thing about being an interior designer:
Being able to change your surroundings, make the cities more vibrant and interesting. That is why I love doing public spaces like retail and restaurants.
3. What inspires you?
I love travelling to big cities. I always get very inspired by the people and different lifestyles. Some how I am more alert to my surroundings when I am not in my home turf.
4. Complete the sentence: “When I feel uninspired, I…”
…I try to take some time off. Quality of life and not working too much is very important to me. I have made a point not to take work home and no-one has to do all nighters or work on weekends in our office.
5. Best styling tip:
I like beautiful, well made objects that are practical and most importantly usefull. I am not a big fan of decorating just for the sake of display.
6. Any special projects at the moment?
We are working on some large international retail projects at the moment. It is very interesting to be involved in the retail industry, which is in such a big turmoil at the moment. Our approach is through the eyes of the customer, we use a lot of service design for that.
7. You, in three words:
Passionate, determined & sensitive
8. What is the best advice you ever received and from whom was it?
The best design related advice has been from one of my principles at Gensler: “You can´t put lipstick on a pig.” I use that a lot as a reference for my clients these days :)
9. What advice would you tell your younger self if you could?
Don´t worry, it will all work out.
10. Dream subject/assignment/collaboration?
I would love to design a small boutique hotel for a client with a sense of quality and attitude for service.
11. What can’t you live without?
Nature. I need my regular walks in the forest to keep my head straight.
12. If you could invite somebody for dinner, famous, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I would love to invite the late Tove Jansson, the creator of Moomin. I bet it would be a night to remember.
13. Best Scandinavian city and why:
I like Helsinki, but Stockholm and Copenhagen are super nice as well. I visit both regularly.
14. Something on your bucket list:
Don´t really have anything at the moment. I believe in acting on your dreams and not saving them for later.
15. What is your all-time favourite design piece(s)?
The Kukkapuro Karuselli chair.
All photos are taken from Joanna’s gorgeous portfolio.