Stylist: Maija Sallinen
R/H designers Hanna Riiheläinen and Emilia Hernesniemi met while studying at the University of Art & Design Helsinki. After working in different fields of fashion and design (Riiheläinen at Zac Posen in New York and Hernesniemi in Berlin at Agency V) they decided to create their own design world. Think playful details combined with Nordic minimalism, insightful feminine cuts, colorful prints and a certain spirit of “black magic.” Here, Hernesniemi answers our questions.
How did growing up in Finland influence your aesthetic?
Hanna and I both grew up in the early ‘80s in Finnish suburbs, Hanna in Helsinki, Emilia in the north of Finland, an engineer town called Oulu, close to Lapland. There were few medias that provided us with modern knowledge of music, fashion and the world. We were lucky to grow up in the middle of the woods with water, snow and trees, watching MTV, Baywatch and Beverly Hills. Boredom leads to creativity, lack of objects leads to creating things. Since there was not a culture of fashion, you could kind of start from the bottom: What is it that I want to do or wear? What is cool? What feels good and why? Also, where will I go when I get older, since it is obvious I won`t be staying North of Finland for the rest of my life.
Do you think there is there a distinct Finnish aesthetic?
Finnish people are naturally good at individualism because of our lone wolf mentality. For some reason, Finns are drawn to making things our very own way, not bothered by the quiet or the solitude. That way I feel that us designers need our quasi-solo objects of inspiration instead of trying to adapt to a culture of aesthetics and hierarchy that is already there.
What's your favorite thing about being based in Finland?
Finland is a really good place for true, honest conversations and sincere minds. The everyday culture emphasizes hard work and being concerned, deep and heavy thinking, yet Finnish humor and people enjoy when you turn everything upside down in the name of art, design or just humor. There is a lot of thoughtful humor behind all the serious faces and that`s something you enjoy when you work from here.
Do you have a favorite Finnish designer?
Right now we are in love with a Finnish cashmere and cotton line called Arela and so many Finnish illustrators and graphic designers, such as Jesse Auersalo and Janine Rewell. So dope!
Who is your favorite international designer?
There`s an Icelandic brand called Kalda that we have been following for 4 or 5 years now. It´s authentic, raw and yet so sophisticated. Beautiful work by beautiful women.
Photos by Chris Vidal Tenomaa, styled by Maija Sallinen. Hair and make-up by Emilie Tuuminen. Model: Stephanie Cook at Brand Model Management.