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.
Meet Finland’s Rising Fashion Stars
“Finland is not a land of high glamour. My clothes are usually based on functional garments like workwear and military uniforms.”
“We live between Russia and Sweden. I can see influences coming from both Slavic and western cultures, which makes it quite different from what you see elsewhere.”
“I grew up surrounded by Marimekko curtains and table wear, using Fiskars scissors and drinking from Iittala glasses. In away you could not help it how you got influenced by the iconic Finnish design from the golden ages.”
“Of course we are influenced by things beyond our borders too, but there is without a doubt a certain Finnish aesthetic which mixes with Karelian roughness and both cultures are strongly influenced by nature. “
“Finland is evident in everything I do, but not necessarily very noticeably. It’s sort of a national feeling of a pacifist.”
“Samuji aims to create functional, sustainable design—items that serve a purpose and yet carry a story.”
“Finland is so far away from fashion capitals that you are able to perceive fashion from an outsider’s perspective.”
R/H “Finnish people are naturally good at individualism because of our lone wolf kind of mentality.”
Hair and make-up by Emilie Tuuminen. Model: Stephanie Cook at Brand Model Management.
Photos by Chris Vidal Tenomaa, styled by Maija Sallinen. Hair and make-up by Emilie Tuuminen. Model: Stephanie Cook at Brand Model Management.