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Global Estonians

Estonia’s Friends Meet Again

Become An Reet Aus e-Estonian Turns Trash Now! To Trend Made In #SmartEstonia Time To Sing Together! Colours Of The Golden Age

land & people I state & society I economy & business I technology & innovation I culture & entertainment I tourism

Worldwide Network Of Estonians

 “There is an Estonian in every port” is Ernest Hemingway`s famous quote. There are a mere 1.3 million of us, but throughout our history we have been keen travellers around the world. All the experience Estonians have gathered from these ports that Hemingway refers to is put to good use when our businesses look to go global. And Estonian businesses really are going global. For example, our pianos—bearing the name of our country, Estonia -- are regarded as amongst the very best in the world. Those who know about music want the best, and that means Estonia. 

 COVER Reet Aus Photo by Madis Palm

Executive publisher Positive Projects Pärnu mnt 69, 10134 Tallinn, Estonia Editor Reet Grosberg Translation Ingrid Hübscher Ambassador Translation Agency Language editor Richard Adang Design & Layout Positive Design Partner

Another example is the global rising star TransferWise. Born in Estonia, TransferWise helps people make currency transactions from one country to another with greater efficiency and at substantially reduced cost. The fast-growing company has just recently added Sir Richard Branson to its list of savvy and respected investors. And, of course, although Estonians may be apart from each other from time to time, we are always connected through Skype, an application created in Estonia and now shared across the globe.
 Going global not only means that Estonian companies are expanding out to the world.  In this edition of Life in Estonia, you can also read about the innovative idea of e-residency: a concept that allows entrepreneurs around the world to use the many possibilities of our attractive business environment and advanced e-governing, independent of their physical location. Time will tell, but in ten years’ time there may well be a tenfold increase in “Estonians” in every port. 

 Anne Sulling
 Minister of Foreign Trade and Entrepreneurship of Estonia   SUMMER 2014




SUMMER_2014 6 Where To Go This Season? Life In Estonia Recommends 8 News

19 The Woman Who Sets Snowballs Rolling Reet Aus is a fashion designer, theatre and film artist, entrepreneur and advocate of recycling who moves beyond the level of pretty slogans. Reet is unique in the Estonian culture industry, as she has found a way to incorporate powerful mass production, change routines and make use of production waste and over-production.

24 Estonian Representation To The European Parliament As one of the smallest countries in Europe, Estonia elects only six MEPs to the European Parliament. Get acquainted with the Estonian representation elected on 25 May.

11 A Summer Gathering Of Friends

28 E-Citizenships Available: Become An e-Estonian Now!

Estonia’s Friends International Meeting recognises investors, politicians and artists whose activities and advice have helped Estonia to develop into a European country with a dynamic economy and vibrant culture. This year, Enterprise Estonia will hold a seminar, “Estonia—contributing towards a country without borders”, which will focus on Estonian innovation and start-ups.

What does Estonia have that people around the world associate the country with? Taavi Kotka, the Estonian government CIO, is convinced that Estonia’s unique characteristic is its extremely comfortable business infrastructure, with the e-Estonian services that the country runs on. With the help of ICT, there may well be ten million Estonians by 2025 instead of the current one million.

13 GrabCAD Leading The Way In Modern Product Development

30 Estonian Business Ambassador Network: The Global Business Family Of Estonia

One of the speakers at the business seminar held during the Estonia’s Friends International Meeting is Hardi Meybaum, the co-founder of GrabCad, a start-up that has created a CPD tool which helps engineering teams manage, view and share CAD files in the cloud. Hardi recently published The Art of Product Design: Changing How Things Get Made.

15 If Estonia Had A Fan Club, Sonny Aswani Would Be Its Cheerleader The Singaporean businessman Sonny Aswani, Director of the Tolaram Group, with businesses on different continents, discovered Estonia in the early 1990s. Ever since, he has remained a devoted fan of the tiny, yet ambitious country.

Indrek Pällo, Head of Export Advisers of Enterprise Estonia, introduces the Estonian Business Ambassador Network – a kind of global business family which helps rookie exporters to make market entry smoother.

31 Welcome To The Estonian Time Machine The technology evangelist Indrek Vimberg calls the new showroom a time machine. Find out why and what the new showroom has to offer compared with the previous ICT Demo Centre.

34 Estonian Shoe Design Picking Up The Pace Original Estonian shoe design has not died out. On the contrary, the number of craftsmen is growing. Will shoe design remain a pleasure of the select few or grow into a significant branch of the economy?



37 Reval Denim Guild - The First 60 Enn Kunila: Denim Guild In The World Estonian Art Is Estonia’s Business Card MINU is a denim brand with a difference. It focuses mainly on jeans, while Reval Denim Guild produces statement collections each fall. Rich in details, the range of heavyweight fabrics speaks clearly of the northern spirit: hand-crafted coats, capes, suits, dresses and even hats, all with a hint of nobility and a bit of magic.

39 True Grit: The Story Of Renard Speed Shop In 2008, a group of Estonians joined forces to revive the Renard brand. In April 2010, the first “modern” prototype, the Renard Grand Tourer, was unveiled at the Hanover Technology Fair. The Renard Speed Shop was founded with the aim to offer café racers and customs at more affordable prices. Get acquainted with the newest models created at the Renard Speed Shop.

42 Viks: Steel Urban Bicycle Made In Estonia

The entrepreneur and art collector Enn Kunila is a true gentleman with faultless manners. He owns a large painting collection, mainly Estonian traditional paintings from the early 20th century on. Life in Estonia asked one of the most well-known art collectors in Estonia where and how it is possible to buy Estonian art.

63 EXPO Milan 2015: Gallery Of Estonia – Nests And Swings Andres Kask, the EXPO 2015 Vice Commissioner of the Estonian Pavilion, introduces the concept of the Estonian pavilion at EXPO Milan 2015.

66 Kristjan Randalu A Talent Who Returned There are several famous musical families in Estonia, the Järvi family being the most famous among them. In this issue Life in Estonia presents Kristjan Randalu who comes from a family of pianists and has become an acclaimed pianist himself. Find out what made the young and successful musician, who had all doors open to him, return to Estonia to his roots.

The Estonian bicycle brand Velonia has introduced the Viks, an urban commuter bike with a striking design and uniquely shaped frame. Recently, as a result of collaboration between VIKS from Estonia and the Dutch WOODaLIKE, a sensational urban commuter has been created: The VIKS WOODaLIKE I.

69 Indrek Laul – The Estonian Piano Man

44 A Revolution in Estonian Brewing Recently Estonia has been witnessing something of a beer revolution, as many small producers have entered the market with exciting beers. Find out who is who.

51 Portfolio – Colours Of The Golden Age The exhibition in Tallinn’s Mikkeli Museum is entitled “Colours of the Golden Age” and it consists of paintings from Enn Kunila’s collection. The majority of the paintings are by Estonian artists from the first half of the 20th century.

Indrek Laul is another acclaimed Estonian pianist who comes from a musical family. In 2001, Indrek, a recording artist with a doctorate in piano performance from the Juilliard School of Music, became sole owner of the Estonia Piano Factory. He introduced Estonia pianos to the US market with the ambition of making the pianos internationally recognised. 20 years later, his efforts have paid off.

73 Estonian Song Celebration Time-line The Estonian Song Celebration is a unique event that has become the main anchor of Estonian identity. Twice the song celebrations have led to Estonia’s independence. The Estonian Song Celebration 2014 is the twenty-sixth of its kind. Have a look at the time-line, which highlights the most important instances of this unique Estonian tradition.

77 Estonia In Brief 78 Practical Information For Visitors SUMMER 2014




PIRITA CONVENT TALLINN, ESTONIA 8TH – 17TH August 2014 08. August 19:00

Leonard Bernstein’s Theatre Piece for Singers, Players, and Dancers “MASS“ 10. August 19:00

Aram Khachaturian’s ballet “SPARTACUS“ 14. August 19:00

Wolgang Amadeus Mozart’s comical opera “THE ABDUCTION FROM THE SERAGLIO” 15. August 19:00

Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “A MASKED BALL“ 16., 17. August 19:00

A produced gala concert in honour of the 75th jubilee of maestro Eri Klas, the Artistic Director of Birgitta festival “ERI KLAS OPERA GALA“ Artistic Director Eri Klas




Tallinn Philharmonic Society, phone +372 669 9940 Tickets:

JULY 20–27 2014 Presenting the Ukrainian National Opera!

Verdi “DON CARLOS“ Lysenko “NATALKA POLTAVKA“ Bellini “NORMA“ OPRERA GALA CHILDREN GALA Artistic director of the festival: Arne Mikk

In the Tallinn Town Hall On July 15 at 19.00

Luc Robert (tenor, Canada), Kadri Kipper (soprano, Estonian National Opera), Tarmo Eespere (piano, Estonian National Opera). Donizetti, Verdi, Puccini, Cilea, Tost.

On July 18 at 19.00

Kataržyna Mackiewicž (soprano, Poland), Rauno Elp (baritone, Estonian National Opera), Jaanika Rand-Sirp (piano, Estonian National Opera). Bizet, Puccini, Verdi, Lehár, Kálmán, Johann Strauss.

On July 22 at 19.00

Angela Papale (soprano, Italy), Fabio Marra (piano, Italy). Verdi, Puccini, Mascagni, Martucci, Tost.

On July 25 at 19.00

Joanna Freszel (soprano, Poland), Oliver Kuusik (tenor, Estonian National Opera), Tarmo Eespere (piano, Estonian National Opera). Mozart, Gounod, Verdi, Britten, René Eespere.

On July 29 at 19.00

Iveta Jiřiková (soprano, Czech), Filip Bandžak (baritone, Czech). Maria Bachmann (piano, Estonia). Mozart, Rossini, Gounod, Massenet, Tchaikovsky.

Organised by MTÜ Musicante, Estonian National Opera. Ticket: 15/12 EUR Tickets available in Piletilevi and Piletimaailm ticket centres,Tallinn Tourist Information Centre and 1 hour before the concert in the venue. Info and booking:, +372 5114442 Supported by





It takes languages apart and arranges them into micro-lessons which each learner completes in the order which is the most efficient for them. The company claims its adaptive learning approach, in which the software tracks what the learner knows in order to determine what one should learn next to fill the gaps most efficiently, sets Lingvist apart from its competitors.

New Estonian language-teaching startup raises EUR1 million Lingvist, a new Estonian startup which aims to teach a new language in 200 hours, has raised EUR1 million in a round of funding. Lingvist has developed a software programme to help people learn any language in just 200 hours by applying mathematical concepts to the learning process. In a personalised approach, using mathematical optimisation, the tool tailors tasks according to one’s knowledge and skills.

Richard Branson invests in Estonian startup TransferWise British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, has invested in a London-based startup that offers to send money overseas for less than the cost charged by traditional banks. TransferWise, started in 2011 by two Estonians, Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, said it raised $25 million from Branson and others, adding to $6 million previously invested by firms Index Ventures and Valar Ventures. “I’m delighted to be investing in such an innovative company as TransferWise,” Branson said. “Financial services, such as foreign exchange, have been ripe for disruption for decades and it’s great to see TransferWise bring transparency to the market. It’s encouraging to see entrepreneurs using technology to reinvent the old-fashioned FX industry and make a real difference in the market. I see tremendous opportunity for startups like TransferWise to offer breakthrough financial services and products.” Instead of actually sending money across borders, TransferWise matches up customers’ transfer requests and uses its own bank accounts in various countries to make the trades. The company has been looking to expand in the U.S., including options such as becoming regulated on a state-by-state basis or partnering with a federally chartered institution, Hinrikus said. The London-based company has pledged to use its new funds to raise awareness of the hidden fees applied to overseas money transfers.



The company was co-founded by Mait Müntel, previously a nuclear physicist at CERN, who developed the prototype software to learn French in 200 hours. Encouraged by his progress, he launched it as a startup. “Our programme changes the way in which people all around the world learn languages. We are in the business of connecting people,” added Ott Jalakas, a co-founder of Lingvist. Although just a year in the making, Lingvist has already raised EUR1 million in a round of funding – from SmartCap (the investment arm of the taxpayer-funded Estonian Development Fund), Nordic VC Inventure and several angel investors, including the co-founder of Skype, Jaan Tallinn. Currently, it’s in a beta testing phase for French and Spanish learning modules.

According to the company, banks and brokers “disguise the full cost of their fees by hiding it within the exchange rate they offer. World Bank research shows that this significantly misleads consumers – almost twothirds of those polled by them were unaware that there was any other component to the cost beyond the transaction fee.” TransferWise added in a statement that it “believes that all costs should be presented upfront and only the mid-market exchange rate should be used to process transactions”.

Port of Tallinn opened a new cruise ship quay On 17 May, the Port of Tallinn opened the new 9.34 million euro cruise ship quay which will allow larger cruise ships than before to be docked and thus increase Tallinn’s attractiveness for cruise operators. The opening of the quay was marked with the mooring of the Royal Princess, the largest cruise vessel to have ever visited Estonia so far. With the new quay, the Port of Tallinn will be able to moor cruise ships up to 340 metres in length, up to 42 metres in width, and with the draft of up to nine metres. The first vessel to moor at the new cruise quay was the 330-metre long Royal Princess, bringing over 3,000 tourists to Tallinn. “For the Port of Tallinn, the construction of the new quay was the largest single investment last year,” said Alan Kiil, the Board Member of AS Tallinna Sadam. “This investment will, on the one hand, satisfy the growing demand for Tallinn as a tourist destination and, on the other hand, help us meet the needs of cruise operators that want to use larger and larger vessels.”   According to Urve Palo, the Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications, there is still potential for the increase in the numbers of cruise tourists on the Baltic Sea resulting from the joint marketing of Tallinn and other cruise destinations of the Baltic Sea, which will obviously affect the economy of the tourist destinations.  

Taxify named Estonia’s best mobile application Taxi ordering application Taxify was named Estonia’s best mobile application 2014 by the Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure, Urve Palo. The contest was organised by the Estonia’s State Information System Authority. Taxify’s founder Markus Villig said that the company was hoping to win the competition. “We’re proud and happy to be the best smartphone app of the year. Now we have to work even harder to grow and become widely used in other regions as well,” he added.

“It is estimated that a cruise tourist leaves an average of 56.7 euros in Tallinn, buying goods and services,” minister Palo noted. “Even at the present half a million of cruise tourists per year that amounts to over 30 million euros injected into local economy, in addition to such indirect effects as the jobs created in tourism agencies and catering facilities and the taxes received from these.”    Tallinn is to welcome around 300 vessels bringing approximately 470,000 cruise tourists during this cruise season. The summer cruise season lasts until 26 September, but cruise tourists are expected to visit Tallinn in October and December as well.

Palo said mobile applications that were submitted to the contest showed that Estonia has world-class application developers. “The mobile app segment is very competitive, but it is also rapidly growing. This contest showed that we have the potential to be internationally successful in this field. Moreover, our event has also succeeded in raising the interest of young people towards the IT industry which is one of the largest investments in this sector,” Palo said. A total of 71 apps were submitted to the contest in five categories. The best applications will represent Estonia at the World Summit Award Mobile, an international contest of mobile apps.

Team management tool Weekdone won the top award in the category of business and commerce, together with the taxi ordering application Taxify. Weekdone was also awarded a special prize for the security solution Nutikaitse 2017. In the category of education and culture, the winner was the mobile application of the bookstore Rahva Raamat. A travel app, Like A Local Guide, for tourists to help finding cool and cozy spots where locals like to hang out at and miss the tourist traps, won in the category of entertainment and the RMK app was named the best in the central and local government category. The top prize in the category of health and sports went to the Sportlyzer workout app, which also won the Facebook vote.





The Baltic Sea Region: Growing Together On 3-4 June, the joint 16th Baltic Development Forum Summit and 5th Annual Forum of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region - “Growing together” - held in Turku, Finland, brought a record-breaking 1,400 decision-makers from the entire region to engage in dialogue and knowledge exchange through plenary sessions, seminars and a lively networking village. Key areas addressed were outlooks on governance, the digital economy, regional cooperation, smart urban solutions, blue growth, innovation and competitiveness. This year’s State of the Region Report highlighted the transition to a “new normal”, characterised by lower growth rates in the future. Although the region continues to display strong macroeconomic fundamentals, decreasing trends in export market shares and internal investment signal opportunities for action. There is a need for continued investments in knowledge-based assets and competitive infrastructure, as well as developing more distinct areas of competitive advantage.

BDF and Microsoft have launched a new think tank initiative on ICT “Top of Digital Europe” is a new think tank initiative which will address key topics related to ICT as a driver for growth and competitiveness in the Baltic Sea Region. Among the speakers were the Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen of Finland and Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas of Estonia, who encouraged other BSR countries to follow their lead and “go digital”, stating their desire to develop more cross-border services in the region.

”Estonia and Finland are established partners and strong allies in shaping the Baltic Sea Region,” said President Toomas Hendrik Ilves during his state visit to Finland on 12-14 May. Estonia and Finland, together with Latvia, Lithuania, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Poland and Russia, also take part in the work of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS), created in 1992 with the objective of strengthening and intensifying co-operation among the states. Currently the work of the council is led by Finland. Estonia’s presidency begins on 1 July 2014 and lasts for a year. During the state visit, President Ilves opened the Estonian-Finnish business seminar and visited several companies in Helsinki, including Rovio. The ports of Helsinki and Tallinn signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in order to develop a cargo route between the Vuosaari and Muuga harbours in the near future. According to the MoU, the ports wish to offer an interesting alternative for traffic between the Muuga and Vuosaari harbours to complement the Ro-Ro capacity of on-board passenger ferries. “We are connected by hundreds of thousands of human relations, close co-operation in the spheres of economics, trade and culture, e-governance, Estlink power cables, soon the Balticconnector gas pipeline and in the future, hopefully, also the Rail Baltic railway, together with shared responsibility for the Baltic Sea and the security of the region,” said the Estonian Head of State, in expressing his desire for a quick solution and decision regarding the location of the planned LNG terminal. “The depth and closeness of relations between Estonia and Finland should set an example of internal integration within the European Union,” stated President Ilves.

Photo by BDF

Photo by Raigo Pajula

The Baltic Sea Region has all the prerequisites to become a global forerunner in promoting ICT-driven start-ups and SMEs. “The Nordic/Baltic region is one of the world’s leading ICT powerhouses”, said Craig Shank, VP and Assistant General Counsel, Microsoft International. ”In the last decade, Microsoft has invested more deeply in this region than in any other part of the world. I am convinced that Top of Digital Europe will be a source of inspiration to overcome challenges together.”

Estonia and Finland – two ends of one bridge

President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, together with President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, during the state visit to Finland in May 2014.



In his address, the Estonian PM Taavi Rõivas encouraged other BSR countries to go digital.

President Toomas Hednrik Ilves gives a keynote address at the symposium “Quo vadis, Estonia?” in the Estonian Academy of Sciences.

A Summer Gathering of Friends Photos by Raigo Pajula

This summer the Estonia’s Friends International Meeting is celebrating its fifth anniversary. The idea was born in 2010 in a meeting between President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the entrepreneur Margus Reinsalu and the management of Enterprise Estonia. The aim of the event is to recognise investors, politicians and artists whose activities and advice have helped Estonia to develop into a European country with a dynamic economy and vibrant culture.




I EVENTS Another goal is to spread the message that Estonia is successful, interesting and open to investments. In introducing Estonia, Margus Reinsalu has found that when someone simply talks about Estonia to foreigners they will politely listen but will soon forget. “However if these same people can visit Estonia and see for themselves how successful Estonia is, what good opportunities there are for investments and how beautiful the environment is, then they will remember and will return.” Every year a slightly different selection of friends is invited to Estonia, since the organisers would like Estonia to have a lot of good and influential friends all over the world. The meeting gives those who have an interest in Estonia an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas. Last year discussion of Estonia’s role in the European Union and the future of the European Union was the main focus of the symposium. This year the main theme of the symposium will be e-democracy and e-governance, and their roles in modern societies. As is traditional, one of the keynote speakers of the symposium will be President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who is widely recognised for his expertise in e-governance, cyber security and cloud computing. The other keynote speaker will be Andrew M. Thompson, President, CEO and cofounder of Proteus Digital Health. Proteus has created a digital health feedback system to allow people of all ages and cultures to power their own health, to take better care of themselves and each other. This year the symposium will be held for the first time in the new innovation and business centre Mektory, where guests will be able to acquaint themselves with the latest technologies in Estonia. The attendees of the Estonia’s Friends International Meeting will also be joined at the symposium by Estonia’s honorary consuls, which will bring more interesting viewpoints to the discussion. On the same day, the friends of Estonia will be able to meet Prime Minister of Estonia Taavi Rõivas, who will introduce the Estonian e-government system. In addition, Enterprise Estonia will organise a seminar on the topic „Estonia–contributing towards a country without borders”, which centres on Estonian innovation and start-ups. Besides discussions of Estonia´s development, innovation and investment opportunities, the participants in the meeting will be offered a wonderful cultural programme. It has become a tradition that on the first night of the meeting there is a concert by the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the renowned maestro Neeme Järvi. This concert has become a popular cultural event in its own right.

Estonia - Contributing To A World Without Borders This year’s Estonia’s Friends International Meeting will feature a business seminar hosted by Enterprise Estonia, focusing on the initiatives and ideas of Estonian entrepreneurs worldwide who contribute to a world without borders. Estonia is the native home of several successful entrepreneurs who have achieved global success or have created ideas that disrupt the world order as we know it today. The seminar which will take place on 3 July will shed light on some of these projects, including TransferWise, Teleport Inc, PlanetOS and GrabCAD. Estonians are playing a key role in shaping the future of the world, by introducing peer-to-peer currency exchange, by helping people find the most suitable location for living, by bringing engineers together to work on exciting projects and by collecting and analysing big data from the planet’s ecosystem. The distinguished foreign investor Mr. Sonny Aswani from Singapore will give a presentation on his time in Estonia during the past two decades and on further growth opportunities for a country with a unique geopolitical position. The CIO of the Government of Estonia, Mr. Taavi Kotka, will introduce an ambitious programme to increase the number of Estonian digital citizens to over 10 million. The Estonian government has approved the concept of issuing digital IDs to non-residents. From the end of 2014, foreigners will be able to receive a secure Estonian eidentity. This creates a unique opportunity to create a new set of remotely usable global services. The development of the appropriate infrastructure and a range of services require the coordination and stimulation of the public and private sectors. The aim is to make Estonia great: make sure that at least 10 million people around the world choose to associate with Estonia via e-identities. The seminar not only aims to promote Estonia as a hotspot for foreign direct investment, but also to demonstrate the truly global reach of its brightest young minds. By combining these efforts, the world will become more integrated and thus will move closer to being without borders in human interaction.

The next evening there will be a concert by the Andres Mustonen Jazz Quartet in the Oandu watermill in Lahemaa, surrounded by beautiful Estonian nature. Exceptionally this year, the guests will also be able to attend the famous Estonian Song and Dance Celebration ”Touched by Time. The Time to Touch.” The Estonia’s Friends International Meeting is jointly organised by the Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia, Enterprise Estonia and the entrepreneur Margus Reinsalu. Feedback from previous events has been very positive and surely this year’s event will be memorable for all who attend, and will instigate many new friendships and interesting discussions on the future of Estonia.



Prime Minister at the time Andrus Ansip gives the friends of Estonia a tour of Stenbock House in 2013.


Leading The Way In Modern Product Development By Toivo Tänavsuu

It is as if over 1.3 million mechanical engineers all over the world sat at their (virtual) desks designing incredible things at unbelievable speed. Companies watch in astonishment. Some decide to go along for the surprising ride!

This rocking virtual environment designed by the Estonian company GrabCAD stands for everything linked to mechanical product design. Some years ago, GrabCAD began to intermediate challenges to its adrenalinecraving community of engineers, which today numbers over 1.3 million: different companies approach the engineers via GrabCAD and ask them to apply their imaginations to come up with product design or product engineering solutions within given guidelines and time frames. GrabCAD has intermediated around two hundred such challenges and the co-founder of the company, Hardi Meybaum, believes that everyone involved is a winner: the engineers enjoy the excitement of the competitive challenge, companies receive new design ideas and GrabCAD has been able to secure its position among engineers all around the world as their main “playground”. For example, an Indonesian engineer used GrabCAD to design a new jet engine bracket for GE, one of the world’s largest industrial corporations. He received 7,000 USD prize money for winning the challenge. The aim of GE was to have engineers design a significantly lighter jet engine bracket which could be printed in 3D, but which would retain its stiffness. Engineers from 56 different countries racked their brains over the challenge and, in a short time, came up with 700 different design ideas

for the company, out of which the best one was chosen. The Indonesian winner, M. Arie Kurniawan, got a kick-start to his engineering career and started his own company. “A representative of GE approached us and told us that they had a problem: they were spending billions of dollars each year on decreasing the weight of aeroplane engines by a couple of percent. Perhaps the GrabCAD community with its more than 1.3 million engineers could help. The result was a bracket which was on average 70% lighter than the previous one! The CEO of GE, Jeff Immelt, was totally stunned and admitted that the company had to rethink how their products were designed and brought onto the market,” explains Hardi Meybaum. Here’s another example: the US car manufacturer Shelby offered the GrabCAD community the challenge of designing the interior of their new super car Tuatara. Within two weeks, almost half a hundred designs were submitted and Carroll Shelby, the president of the company, spent the entire time, from morning to night, at GrabCAD providing real-time feedback to the engineers. The challenge was won by an Indian engineer for whom this experience was life-changing: he now works for the company in Las Vegas.





Hardi Meybaum Meybaum’s background in engineering, process automation and IT has provided him with unique insight into how shifts in technology change the ways in which physical products are designed. After graduating from the Tallinn University of Technology with an MSc in Production Development (Mechanical Engineering), Hardi worked as a Computer Aided Design / Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) engineer for Saku Metall, designing elevator systems. He soon moved to a position overseeing the company’s implementation of Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software, before becoming CIO of the company. Hardi left Saku to join Columbus IT, where he implemented ERP systems and spent two years helping manufacturing companies implement new systems and improve efficiency. After leaving Columbus, Hardi started his first company, Futeq, to help manufacturers get products onto the market faster. Hardi spotted the opportunity to help use open, webbased systems to accelerate the design process, and started GrabCAD.



At the same time, the company did not let go of its own engineers. Meybaum explains that, from the American perspective, product development based on crowdsourcing is “not about giving some pointless tasks to Eastern Europe, India or China, receiving brilliant solutions and, consequently, getting rid of jobs in America. Rather this way of working helps to generate new half-baked ideas which can be developed further.”

designers, where engineers could connect and gather information, manage their designs and communicate with their partners.

This kind of effective, open approach to product development and design, which is based on crowdsourcing, requires out-of-the-box thinking and this, according to Meybaum, is still considered strange by most companies. But GrabCAD is definitely breaking through. If the engineering community of the company continues to grow at the present rate, they will reach two million soon.

According to Meybaum, companies are starting to come round to the new way of thinking about product development, and GrabCAD has users in all sectors of the economy, with the exception of companies linked to the US defence industry, for whom they still do not meet the standards.

Recently GrabCAD started to sell a product called Workbench. This tool enables small and mediumsized companies to manage their documents and designs, and to share them easily between departments and within supply chains. American producers no longer have to e-mail designs to Asian subcontractors; the files are shared seamlessly. Similarly, several engineers can be working on the same design in parallel. Now purchasing managers or marketing people can easily access the design process; previously this area was hidden from them. The work and design processes of companies are becoming much more transparent and efficient: it is possible to design products and bring them onto the market faster than ever before. Welcome to the 21st century! Already 50,000 companies are using Workbench; GrabCAD earns its main profits in the US. Back in 2009, two young Estonian mechanical engineers – Hardi Meybaum and Indrek Narusk - noticed huge problems with their industry. No good library of CAD parts and assemblies existed, it was difficult to find talent, and it was a real pain to work with other engineers. Meybaum and Narusk started GrabCAD with the core belief that by embracing new internet-based technologies, they could radically transform a stagnant and old-fashioned industry. They envisioned new forms of collaboration and openness to help mechanical engineers around the world save time, stay super-organized and have more fun. The initial goal was to develop an “all-inone” web environment which would become indispensable for engineers, planners and designers. It was meant to become an operating system for engineers and

To date the company has attracted several rounds of investments, totalling 17 million dollars, from prominent venture capitalists, and it offers online community and cloud-based collaboration tools for those involved in designing and building physical products. The company’s offices are situated in Boston, Cambridge (England) and Tallinn.

What about profits? Meybaum calculates that if all Original Equipment Manufacturers in the US which employ 5-50 mechanical engineers used Workbench, GrabCAD would be making a billion dollars annually. Clearly the company is enjoying operating in a potential billion-dollar market. In order to raise awareness of opportunities in 21st century product development, Hardi Meybaum recently published The Art of Product Design: Changing How Things Get Made, which is sold at the Amazon Kindle Store and other major book stores, such as Barnes and Noble. Meybaum says this book was born out of fear that GrabCAD was developing products that were too innovative and the industry’s way of thinking was lagging behind. “We wrote this book to change the way the industry thinks. We do not predict how things will be in the future, but we let about 50 companies tell their stories of how they are doing things differently today.” Read the book to find out how modern product design, prototyping and marketing work. How the digital revolution gets physical and how there is only hope for survival for those companies that understand the principle “disrupt or get disrupted”.

By Toivo T채navsuu / Photos by Margus Johanson

If Estonia Had A Fan Club, Sonny Aswani Would Be Its Cheerleader SUMMER 2014



I LAND AND PEOPLE The Singaporean businessman Sonny Aswani (51), Director of the Tolaram Group, with businesses on different continents, discovered Estonia at the beginning of the 1990s. He has remained a devoted fan of the tiny, yet ambitious country since. Always relaxed, like a seasoned Estonian, Aswani sits at his kitchen table in his Tallinn Old Town luxury residence. Pagari 1 is a historical apartment building which the Singaporean has restored to its original purpose. After decades of being used by military and police forces, it is again a majestic residential building. Almost all of the 42 apartments of the prize-winning building have now been sold. The summer has just started, along with the strawberry season and a pipeline of truly Estonian events ahead, including the Song Festival in July, where Estonian fans from all over the world will gather to sing along with the nation.

How does flying back from Singapore to Estonia make you feel? This is pretty much like home. This is the place where I am the most fond of spending my time. When I come to Estonia, I always feel excited. There is still a lot for us to accomplish here. I usually come to Estonia about five or six times a year, and usually spend about two weeks here. We have made various investments in Estonia, particularly in the pulp and paper sector. Currently, I am looking forward to establishing a world class data centre in Estonia, and I have some real estate projects in the pipeline.

Why data centres? The timing is right now. Estonia is very strong in terms of IT and software development, but there’s not enough infrastructure to back it up. If we are to store everything in the cloud, if Estonia does what it plans to do – back its e-government services fully in the state cloud - there will be a lot of infrastructure needed to support it.

When Google acquired an old factory building in Hamina, Finland for its new data centre a few years ago, rumour has that they were also considering Kehra? When Google went out to look for data centre sites, they eventually narrowed it down to two countries: Estonia and Finland. They chose Finland because of the energy costs. In Estonia the cost of energy is still comparatively high due to high excise tariffs. Google acquired an old pulp and paper plant and converted it to a data centre. They got some green energy benefits, too. The Finnish government met Google half way and brought Google to Finland. Estonia should think about that when developing its strategies to keep the country competitive.

Back in the 1990s, what attracted you to Estonia? At the beginning of the 1990s we had a distribution business in Moscow.



The volume there grew to such an extent that I needed to relocate our warehousing to meet the just-in-time delivery demands of our customers. I travelled to neighbouring countries to explore the possibility of relocating my logistics. I visited Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia and finally Estonia. When I discovered how convenient and transparent it was to do business here compared to all the other countries, Estonia was a natural choice! Even back in the early days you already had e-banking and currency backed by the Deutsche mark. The strategic geographical location was an additional attraction.

Estonia has changed quite a bit during the past 25 years. What keeps you emotionally attached to the country? There is a phrase I have been using for years when introducing Estonia to foreigners: the one thing you need to bring when you visit Estonia is not a thick sweater, but rather your sunglasses, as the future there is so bright, you are going to need them! Our experience in Estonia has been wonderful. We have been here for almost 20 years and feel very comfortable doing business here. The motivation is also country specific. In the pulp and paper industry, we need to be in a country like Estonia, because of the high-quality raw material that is available here. That raw material we need – long-fibre wood, such as pine and spruce - is not available in many countries, including the emerging southern countries. It is only available in the northern hemisphere, and here we have competition only from Canada, Scandinavia and partly Russia.

Why is it good to live and do business in – or from – Estonia? One of the things that first attracted us was that Estonia is one of the few countries in the world where foreigners and locals are treated equally. They both can buy land, they pay the same taxes, and everything is the same. Not all countries have that. If you are a foreigner and you want to be a part of the emerging MINT markets (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey), you go to any of these countries and discover that you cannot buy, or are restricted in buying, land as a foreigner. In Singapore, for instance, a foreigner can own an apartment, but not freehold land. The IT sector and start-ups have increasingly added excitement to the business environment, which is very important for innovation and creativity. We shouldn’t underestimate the fact that the world has noticed Estonia as the next possible Silicon Valley. Estonia should set that as a goal. The values what we have already achieved or own by default are no less important: transparency, geographical location and ease of doing business have kept our company and many others here, and we are here for good. Of course, in our changing world Estonia must adjust its sail in the direcp. 18 > tion of economic growth.

Sonny Aswani Sonny Aswani has been with the Tolaram Group since 1985 and has vast experience in setting up and running businesses in Asia and Europe. He has successfully developed paper, textile, real estate and life-style businesses in Estonia. Currently, he oversees the group’s interests in the Baltics. He has a degree in Business Administration and Economics from Richmond College (1984) and a master’s degree in Management Science from the University of Kent at Canterbury, UK (1986). He was awarded the White Cross medal by the President of the Republic of Estonia in 2001 and

has been the Honorary Consul-General for Estonia in Singapore since 2008. Among the awards he has received are “Best Foreign Investor” and “Best Promoter of Estonia and for Job Creation”. Aswani is the Founder of the Tolaram Foundation, a non-profit entity helping the less fortunate. Date of Birth: 12 April 1963 Place of Birth: Indonesia Citizenship: Singaporean Languages: Sindhi (native language), English, Hindi, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and Javanese Hobbies: Chess, sailing, skiing and reading

Estonian Honorary Consul to Singapore, Mr. Sonny Aswani at the symposium “Quo vadis, Estonia?” in the Estonian Academy of Sciences. 05.07.2013




I LAND AND PEOPLE Estonia’s costs and wages have risen drastically. How has that influenced your pulp and paper business in Kehra? We have kept on investing. If I don’t keep modernising the factory, we will not survive. The paper that we make is not exactly a commodity; it is a very specific packaging paper, which is environmentally friendly, one that you can only make from soft wood pulp and this pulp you can only make from wood that you get from countries like Estonia. If it was a common commodity, we would be selling the majority of our products to China. Instead, we are opening new doors in such markets as Japan, Australia and South America. So we have hence found ourselves a great niche, which allows us to export to 55 different countries every month. We have restored Estonia’s position in the global pulp and paper sector. And we continue to invest. Originally I had plans to increase the capacity in Kehra by 50 per cent, but just recently we decided to triple it: from 70,000 tons to 210,000 tons a year. We have excellent local raw material. I dislike the idea of raw material being shipped from Estonia to Finland in the form of logs, without adding any value to it. Why should we send logs to Finland, where they would make toilet paper and send it back to us? That doesn’t make sense!

Instead, you add value … Estonia has two main national resources: forest and people. Making such products as pulp, paper, pellets, panels and wooden houses: this is what should be championed. It is the people that make a country, not the other way around. And I see great value in the Estonian people. Estonians are hard-working, focused and behave in a pragmatic manner. They are my trusted team members and I really value the loyalty and dedication of the people I have found here in Estonia. Many key people have worked closely with me for 20 years and that’s an asset that helps us to drive the business.

Have you ever considered moving your paper production away from Estonia? No chance. I would move an industry like textiles, because we don’t have the raw material here. I worked with cotton from Uzbekistan many years ago. Those kind of industries would not survive in Estonia. But an industry where you have a local raw material and you add value to it before exporting, these work well. We used to be a little too dependent on textiles and got burnt. Eventually we had to shut down the production, because it was no longer viable in terms of labour costs and competitive raw material availability. We focused on pulp and paper extensively and started our real estate business in Estonia.

Estonia can adapt more easily in times of global economic turbulence. Yes, it is like a sailboat that can adjust its sails. In a rapidly changing world, the beauty of a small country is the ability to adapt, which is very



difficult for a bigger country. For businesses, this provides the versatility to deal with changes, and we live in an ever-changing world.

Where do you see the biggest opportunities for Estonia in the future? Estonia’s geopolitical location should be used: the closest European city between Europe and China is actually Tallinn. Why not make Tallinn an air cargo hub? It should also invest in world class exhibition and convention centre. Estonia’s opportunities also certainly lie in the IT sector and above all in its skilled people. Today I worry about the brain drain. Over time, Estonia may lose the skill sets it has nurtured. As I mentioned before, people are Estonia’s primary resource, and in attracting talent and raising the quality of the existing workforce, there is a lot to learn from Singapore. I also see an active discussion in the society about the future, and I believe that in trusting cooperation between statesmen, entrepreneurs and people the best solutions will be found.

Do you use the Estonian e-services? Yes. One of the advantages of Estonia is the ease of doing business. E-government, e-taxes, digital signatures, going online to form a company – that’s fantastic! Far better than in Singapore, which could learn a lot from Estonia. Here we have been paying for parking by mobile phone for 12 years. It has been almost ten years since the first electronic elections. We are way ahead here in Estonia.

In terms of organisational culture and business mindset, I am sure that Tolaram has added international scope to Estonia. But what has Estonia given to Tolaram? This spring Tolaram Group leaders from all around the world had their strategy meeting in Estonia, hosted by our team here. Everybody was amazed at our Estonian team’s integrity, competence and loyalty. That created such a fruitful and inspiring environment for the meeting that everybody had the confidence and security to set future goals very high, which united our whole international team more then anybody expected. Estonia has given us amazing people and inspiration.

How does the current crisis in Ukraine make you feel? It is an opportunity for Estonia. There are, for example, Asian companies in Moscow that don’t want to take risks in Russia or store their goods in Russia. But at the same time they want to be able to deliver in Russia within 24 hours. Countries like Estonia could benefit from this; companies want to mitigate their risks by diverting all the stocks that they usually keep in Russia and relocate them outside of Russia, but continue to do business in that emerging market. Estonia has been highly successful so far but it must remember that… success is a journey not a destination.


By Anneliis Aunapuu / Photos by Madis Palm

The Woman Who Sets Snowballs Rolling It is typical of everything that Reet Aus undertakes to develop a snowball effect. Her activities, which are born out of creative impulses, soon begin to take on a global dimension.




I COVER STORY School Reet Aus holds a doctorate in art and design. At first it may seem that fashion and research are worlds apart, but in the last few years the activities of the textile and fashion departments at the Estonian University of Art have taken a huge leap forward from decorative arts and crafts, developing in depth and becoming serious players in the field. Of course, the effective and decorative nature of art is still important, as the annual high-flying fashion show of the university, approaching performance art in its execution, demonstrates (Reet was the main organiser of this event from 1995-2002). Together the students and tutors of the Estonian Academy of Art seek unused opportunities in local production and create bold visions of the future. They learn to orientate themselves in contemporary technologies and new trends in research, and they have a bold approach to trying out options, as the “sky is the limit”. Students successfully compete with students of industrial design. They have reached an understanding of “the global” through the concepts of design - mass production - energy use - resources - waste… It seems that the process is taking on momentum.

When you meet the direct and confident Reet Aus and look into her clear eyes, you immediately see that she is not one of those artists brimming over with unexpressed thoughts or desperately seeking a stage. This girlish woman (who is a mother of three!) works at a fast and steady pace on a wide scale: fashion designer, theatre and film artist, entrepreneur and advocate of recycling who moves beyond the level of pretty slogans. For someone who has a large international upcycling project on her hands, with many setbacks and surprises, she looks admirably calm, convinced that one person can indeed make a difference and stop the world from galloping over a cliff. The success of one project leads to success in other projects. One product today, an entire branch of the industry tomorrow. Dripping water can break down a rock.



Work Reet’s MA project started to live its own life. The Hula Collection presented the idea of local production and quickly found popularity, becoming a recognised brand created by fashion students. Reet Aus’s principles started to find an outlet and her collections received more and more attention. But collections and small output did not seem like a sufficient solution to Reet, and this led to her commencing her doctorate studies by exploring the upcycling possibilities of the waste of the textile industry.

Bangladesh, but more and more we hear about the dire working conditions within the industry. One of the best representatives is Beximco, which employs 32,000 workers, who produce clothes for such worldfamous brands as Tommy Hilfiger, Bershka, Calvin Klein and Zara. The company guarantees human rights and decent salaries. Reet was able to undertake an analysis of production at the factory, which helped to assess the extent of waste and create opportunities to direct it back into production within the factory.

After successfully defending her PhD thesis “Trash to Trend – Upcycling in Fashion Design” at the Estonian Academy of Art, Reet Aus received her doctorate in 2011. As a direct outcome of her research, she travelled to Bangladesh in order to participate in the creation of a documentary film, together with Jaak Kilmi and Lennart Laberenzi, about the environmental problems related to the textile industry. Quite unexpectedly, an even bigger snowball started to roll. In observing the inner workings of the textile industry in Bangladesh, Reet Aus became painfully aware of huge environmental problems related to the mass production of textiles, which are not always the result of carelessness or greedy grasping at profits. In talking to the management of Beximco, a large Bangaldeshi corporation, common ground was quickly found. This laid the foundation for a collaboration that led to killing two birds with one stone. Textiles are the main exports of

Reet Aus in brief: Brands: * Hula: created in collaboration with Anu Lensment, Marit Ahven and Eve Hanson as their final MA project (2002, cum laude), a brand which continues to live in the daily activities of former students. * ReUse: a collection created in 2006 in collaboration with the Recycling Centre, based on the principle of valuing the recycling and reuse of materials. The idea grew into an NGO, and a waste-mapping service was created on the webpage This maps textile production waste in our region, offering useful information for local designers who value recycling. * TrashToTrend: the platform began with her doctoral thesis in 2011; it introduces the idea of upcyling and sells designer goods produced by this method. * Upmade: a brand which uses the upcycling method to create a collection in cooperation with Beximco. * Aus Design: Reet is the Creative Director and designer of her own company.

Activities: * Reet designs costumes for theatres (Von Krahl, Eesti Draamateater, Pärnu Endla, Tartu Vanemuine, Polygon, Nargen Opera and Tallinna Linnateater) * ... and films (“Tallinn Sprat”, “December Heat”, “Tabamata ime”, “Kuhu põgenevad hinged” etc.). * Designs costumes for national celebrations and events: for example the concert of the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia in 2013. The newest project is the famous upcycle-technology T-shirts created for the Dance and Song Celebration 2014. * Studio at the Estonian Design House at Kalasadama 8. * Heads the sustainable textiles study group at the Estonian Academy of Art. * Is thinking about collaborating with corporations in order to reduce the ecological footprint of the textile industry. Awards: * “Väike Nõel” (Small Needle) (2003, the brand Hula), * Cultural Award of the Republic of Estonia (2004 “Estonian Ballads” production),

* Estonian Theatre Award and Natalie Mei Costume Designer Award 2007, * Moemootor (Fashion Motor) 2009. * Woman of the Year 2013 (the magazine Anne ja Stiil) * Entrepreneur of the Year of Civil Society 2013 (Union of NGOs - EMSL) * Environment Act of the Year 2013: the Ministry of the Environment named Upmade the most environmentally friendly company of the year. Roles: * Senior Researcher and tutor at the Estonian Academy of Art, costume designer in theatre and film, and Creative Director and Designer of her company Aus Design. * Participates in the buzz of fashion shows, global fashion weeks and exhibitions as a participant and organiser. * Member of the Board of the Union of Estonian Designers and the Union of Estonian Performance Designers. * Member of the Lilleoru eco community. * Mother of three.




I COVER STORY Upcycling and production In seeking solutions to the problems, Reet Aus felt the need for more specific environmental know-how and this brought her together with the environmental specialist Markus Vihma. Their collaboration led to the creation of the “T-shirt with the smallest environmental footprint in the world” (the T-shirt was chosen as a test product because it is one of the most pointless textile products: about four billion T-shirts with logos are produced each year for various events and most of them become direct waste). The new shirt - the upshirt - was assembled from production waste of quality rib knit fabric. And it looked great. The creators then turned to the crowdfunding platform and found an unexpectedly large number of supporters (among them Jeremy Irons) who ensured half of the necessary starting capital. This helped to start production of the shirts.

The design of the first product with the label Ausdesign (thank to Reet’s surname Aus, it translates as “honest design”) presented the logo of the company, an arrow pointing upwards, which is an ingenious way of visualising the concept of upcycling. The label of the shirt states that its production created 82% less CO2 and used 90% less water. It is the first known attempt in the world to mass produce the producer’s own production waste through upcycling. The next project was creating the T-shirts for the biggest national celebration in Estonia: the Song and Dance Celebration 2014. This has made the eco-shirt into a mass product. The T-shirts reached Estonia at the end of May.

T-shirts for the Song and Dance Celebration 2014



The fact that Reet Aus’s doctoral work and activities in upcycling also have a local impact was demonstrated at the exhibition of student work at the gallery of the Estonian Academy of Art last December. The works were created in the framework of the international innovation project “Trash to trend”. For two weeks, students attended lectures and master classes, resulting in clothes lines which were created out of the waste and defective products of the textile industry. Many of those could become industrial prototypes in the future.

Theatre and cinema Along with her efficient and thorough activities in various fields, Reet Aus still finds time to design theatre and film costumes. Like the fashion runway, the world of theatre and film is radically different from global industrial problems. Stage productions allow for creative fantasy and different themes help Reet to maintain a flexible frame of mind. But those activities would require a separate article. Reet Aus has participated as a costume designer in at least seven feature films and has helped to create the stage look for numerous theatre productions. “This is where I find creative freedom, making costumes which are larger than life,” she says with a smile. This activity has also brought her recognition: the Cultural Award of the Republic of Estonia (2004, for the costumes of the epic production “Estonian Ballads”) and the Estonian Theatre Award 2006.

Activities on the horizon The roots of Reet Aus’s current activities go back years and she is unique in the Estonian culture industry. Many designers have tried to organise their own production, but their volumes remain very limited. Others have found their niche in tailor-made costumes. Reet has found a way to incorporate powerful mass production, change routines and make use of production waste and over-production. This helps future consumers save money (which would be spent on products made of new fabric), reduces the costs of material and fabric producers (lowering production-processing costs) and reducing overhead in the sewing factory (lowering the costs of waste management). In addition, this helps to alleviate over-production, which is created by the unpredictable demands of the market. At the same time, environmental risks are reduced. This kind of environmentally sustainable thinking is becoming increasingly popular, but these ideas are seldom put into practice. Reet is a tough girl who has reached real tangible solutions with her activities. There is a product, there is mass production based on ideals and the products have also reached shops. It seems that Reet Aus has reached the status of ideal designer (for example in the production of song festival T-shirts): she has designed a product which is ready for production and fills a market need in Estonia and Bangladesh, which helps to save costs for everyone involved. Estonian producers should take notice of what designers have been trying to express for years: in the long term designers help save on costs, not create pointless costs! At the same time, our planet Earth will have an easier time. The acknowledgements keep coming in. Last year the Estonian women’s magazine Anne ja Stiil nominated Reet Aus “The Woman of the Year”. This year the Ministry of the Environment chose her company as the most environmentally friendly company of the year. The Union of NGOs nominated Reet Aus as “The Entrepreneur of the Year”. She has accomplished great things.





Estonian Representation To The European Parliament

Estonia joined the EU at the beginning of 2004. As one of the smallest countries in Europe, Estonia is among the four EU countries which elects only six MEPs to the European Parliament. On 25 May, 36.44 per cent of Estonian voters participated in the European Parliament elections, which is less than last time (in 2009), when the turnout was 43.9 per cent, but more than in 2004, when Estonia elected members to the European Parliament for the first time and the turnout was 26.83 per cent. Of the six Euro-parliament mandates, the Reform Party took two, with a vote count of 79,849, with former Prime Minister Andrus

Andrus Ansip 45,022 votes The former long-time Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip can definitely be considered the winner of the elections to the European Parliament in Estonia. He won the highest number of votes as an individual and contributed to his party, the liberal business-friendly Reform Party, becoming the winner of the elections overall: Ansip, who stepped down from his position as Prime Minister only at the end of March, collected 45,000 votes from all over Estonia.

The main basis for Ansip’s success may be the courageous decisions made during his term which took Estonia into the euro-zone during the most difficult economic crisis in the country. During his term, the global economic crisis hit Estonia hard, but thanks to the previous conservative budget policy and subsequent bold cuts Estonia managed to make it out of the crisis on its own and became the most rapidly growing economy in the European Union.

This came as somewhat of a surprise, because the general opinion before the elections seemed to be that voters had grown a bit bored with the man who spent the last nine years running the country. In the last years of his career as Prime Minister, Ansip has tended to make public declarations which the public deemed arrogant and haughty. Not a single pre-election poll predicted his triumph.

It would be difficult to find anyone from Estonia on the same level as Ansip in European issues who simultaneously possesses such firm authority in Brussels. One of his clear strengths is Ansip’s brilliant memory for facts. Journalists in Estonia know that his skill at citing research results, figures and percentages with accuracy, depending on how he needs them, is legendary. Most probably Ansip, who will be a member of the liberal fraction, will not stay in the European Parliament for more than a couple of months. The Government of Estonia has already agreed that they will put Andrus Ansip forward as the Estonian candidate for Commissioner of the European Commission, and he will be replaced in the European Parliament by the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Urmas Paet.

Short bio Born: Political career: Political party:

1 October 1956 in Tartu Mayor of Tartu 1998 - 2004 Minister of Economic Affairs and Communications 2004 - 2005 Prime Minister of Estonia 2005 - 2014 Estonian Reform Party

Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe



Ansip alone receiving 45,022 votes. Besides Ansip, the independent candidate Indrek Tarand (43,369 votes), Social Democrat Marju Lauristin (26,868), Center Party MP Yana Toom (25,251), Reform Party MP Kaja Kallas (21,498) and European Parliament member, Pro Patria and Res Publica (IRL) member Tunne Kelam (18,767) were elected to the European Parliament. With that, Estonia fell into the category of states where generally the government was supported, the political mainstream favoured and every extreme rejected. Let’s get acquainted with the Estonian MEP’s.

Kaja Kallas 21,498 votes Kaja Kallas, a party colleague of Andrus Ansip’s, also won a place in the European Parliament. But whereas Ansip is already a long-standing figure in Estonian politics, the political career of Kaja Kallas is still in its early days. Kallas, a lawyer by profession, joined the Estonian Reform Party before the previous parliamentary election in 2011. As a fresh face, she had surprising success in the election and left her job as a partner and department manager of a leading Estonian law office to take up a seat in the Estonian parliament.

Kaja Kallas heads the parliamentary Committee of Economics. Her strengths lie in competition law and especially energy and sustainable energy regulations. One of her tasks in the Estonian parliament has been the compilation of the Code of Ethics for MPs but, due to a lack of interest among colleagues, it has not been passed. In running for the European Parliament, Kallas emphasised the importance of the free market in her election platform. “Only the free market creates preconditions for fair competition, guaranteeing that, if we make the effort, we have everything necessary to live as well as people do in Finland, Belgium or Germany,” said Kallas. “In the European Parliament, I wish to stand for the free market, education, creativity and hard work as the values which we emphasise when talking about the EU and which underpin all our decisions,” she promised. It is worth noting that Kaja Kallas is a second-generation politician. Her father Siim Kallas is the former Estonian Prime Minister and is currently in his second term as a Commissioner of the European Commission.

Short bio Born: Political career: Political party:

18 June 1977 Member of Parliament 2011 Estonian Reform Party

Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe




I STATE AND SOCIETY Short bio Born: Political career:

Yana Toom

3 February 1964 Member of the European Parliament 2009 - 2014 Politically independent

Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Greens / European Free Alliance

25,251 votes The biggest surprise of these elections and the candidate who has attracted the most controversy is definitely Yana Toom, a member of the Estonian Centre Party. The 47-year-old native Russian worked for years in leading positions of Russian-language media in Estonia before joining the Centre Party and running for office. Her position as Deputy Mayor of Tallinn was a great platform to move into parliament some years later, and today Toom is moving on from the Estonian parliament to Brussels. It was predicted that Toom would do well in the elections, but the fact that she triumphed over the Head of the Centre Party and the heavyweight of Estonian politics - Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar - came as a shock to Toom herself. The great majority of Toom’s votes came from the Russian-language areas of Estonia: the Tallinn area and north-eastern Estonia, where the majority of the population is Russian. Toom’s political career has been filled with controversy. For example, in its Yearbook 2011, the Estonian Internal Security Service wrote that as Deputy Mayor of Tallinn, Yana Toom cooperated with the Human Rights Information Centre—which cooperates with Russia in neighbourhood policy—to encourage the Russian schools in Tallinn to refuse to transfer to Estonian-language learning. In response, Yana Toom sued the Security Service and this court case has not been resolved yet. In addition, Toom has expressed opinions in the media which other politicians have called anti-state. Among other things, Toom has said that the Estonian language is going extinct. Just like Kaja Kallas, Toom is a secondgeneration politician.

Indrek Tarand 43,369 votes Indrek Tarand, previously a public official and diplomat, started his rapid political ascent in the last European Parliament elections in 2009. Back then Tarand decided to run as an independent candidate in order to protest the closed list election system. Tarand claimed that the rigid election system meant that nothing really depended on voters, as parties had a free hand to decide who to send to the European Parliament. It seemed that Tarand’s ideas struck a nerve with people, as his popularity as an independent candidate was unbelievable. He won the support of every fourth voter, more than 100,000 votes in total. Only one party, with its entire list, collected slightly more votes than Tarand as an independent candidate. With minimal campaign expenditures, Tarand decided to run once more five years later and, although statisticians might joke about him being the “biggest loser” of these elections, he did receive the votes of more than 43,000 people and secured another term in the European Parliament.

The charismatic Tarand, who can usually be spotted wearing sunglasses, is known for his direct and biting remarks. First and foremost, he is opposed to the rest of the Estonian political establishment, criticising the concealed nature of political Short bio decision-making, back-room politics, party financing and crazy Born: 15 October 1966 campaign costs. Political career: Deputy Mayor of Tallinn 2010 - 2011 Member of Parliament 2011 Indrek Tarand’s father Andres Political party: Estonian Centre Party Tarand has also been an MEP and was for years active in EstoPolitical Group in the European Parliament: nian politics as an MP and, for a Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe brief period in the mid-1990s, as Prime Minister. Photo by Olga Makina 26

Short bio Born: Political career:

7 April 1940 Minister of Social Affairs 1992 - 1994 Member of Parliament 1992, 1994 - 1995, 1999 - 2003

Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament

Tunne Kelam 18,767 votes Running as the leading member of the right-wing conservative Union of Pro Patria and Res Publica, Tunne Kelam is a grand old man of Estonian politics. One of Tunne Kelam’s first political acts was the memorandum he sent to the United Nations in 1972, demanding an end to the Soviet occupation of Estonia and the restoration of Estonia’s independence. He entered the public political arena at the end of the 1980s during perestroika. After the restoration of Estonia’s independence, Kelam was an MP for four terms. For eleven years he has been the Deputy Speaker of Parliament and, in the early 2000s, spent three years leading the predecessor of his current party, the Pro Patria Union. Therefore, it is not surprising that Kelam’s political career continued in Brussels as Estonia joined the European Union. Tunne Kelam is the only Estonian politician who has been elected to the European Parliament in all three elections in which Estonians have participated. As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Subcommittee of Security and Defence, and a substitute member of the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, Tunne Kelam’s fields of activity include the EU’S foreign and defence policy, as well as employment-related issues. He is a standing member of the European Parliament’s Delegation of Relations with the United States. In addition, he is a substitute member of the Delegation for Relations with the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and Delegation for Relations with Iraq. Kelam speaks seven foreign languages: English, Finnish, French, Russian, Polish, Italian and Ger-

Short bio man. One of his hobbies is bringing European art-house cinema to Estonia.

Born: Political career:

Marju Lauristin 26,868 votes The leading vote-getter of the Social Democrats, Marju Lauristin has made a comeback in politics during these elections. Lauristin has been well-known in Estonian politics for years, and in the early 1990s she held one of the most difficult ministerial positions in the then young Estonian government: Minister of Social Affairs. But for the last decade she has not been active in politics. Instead Lauristin has been teaching students in her home-town of Tartu and has participated in numerous socio-analytical projects. For example, she has been one of the key people behind the annual Estonian Human Development Report. In the Department of Journalism at the University of Tartu, Lauristin (or Marjustin as she is affectionately called by students) has been a legendary teacher for decades. Independent of her political background, Lauristin’s socio-critical opinion pieces and analyses are truly valued in Estonian media. It is hard to find another person whose opinions carry the same weight. After the elections, Postimees, the most read daily newspaper in Estonia, called the decision taken by the Social Democratic Party to have Lauristin as its top candidate a clever move. “She made people who normally do not vote for Social Democrats give their votes to the party. Estonia now has an MEP who is able to think about and speak on topics important for the future of Europe,” wrote Postimees.

10 July 1936 Member of the European Parliament 2004 Vice President of the Estonian Parliament 1992 - 1995, 1996 - 2003

Political Group in the European Parliament: Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats)

For the journalism and other students of the University of Tartu, it is of course a painful loss to have their highly valued lecturer move from Tartu to Brussels.




E-Citizenships Available: Become An e-Estonian Now!

Photo by Hele-Mai Alamaa


By Holger Roonemaa

Egypt has the pyramids and the sun. The Alps have enough snow for skiing and snowboarding. Brazil has samba and, of course, football. But what does Estonia have that people around the world associate the country with? “We can talk about our beautiful nature, but that is something that every country on every continent boasts of,” says Taavi Kotka, the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. “I also doubt that our climate is something that people would be very fond of,” he continues. Rather than nature or climate, Kotka believes that Estonia’s unique characteristic is its extremely comfortable business infrastructure and the e-Estonian services that the country runs on. So if people travel to the Alps for a skiing vacation and Egypt to have a sun-break in winter, why can’t Estonia attract them with its simple e-services?

Ten million e-Estonians by 2025 This is exactly what Kotka and a couple of his colleagues have been working on for some time now. They have worked out a way for anyone in any country in the world to start enjoying the benefits of Estonia’s comfortable e-services. The project is called “10 million e-Estonians by 2025” and it will be launched at the end of this year.



“What we are about to do will change the whole paradigm of citizenship. You don’t have to ever come to Estonia, and you don’t have to know much about us. But you will have the chance to become an eEstonian,” Kotka explains. Let’s say there is a sheep-herder named John somewhere in New Zealand and he wants to start doing business in the European Union. Currently it would take weeks or even months of bureaucratic hassles to start a company in any EU member state. John would either have to pay thousands of euros for legal advice or travel across the world. But now this is all about to change. All John has to do is visit his nearest Estonian consulate, identify himself with his national ID card or passport and give some biometric information, such as fingerprints and iris pattern. When the consulate is sure that John actually is the real John, he will be issued an Estonian non-resident ID card, which gives him instant access to a lot of Estonia’s e-services. “This is the only time that we actually need to see him. He will probably receive the ID card via post,” Kotka says. Straight after that, John may establish his own company in Estonia via the National Company Registration Portal and open a bank account using his digital Estonian signature. “The best news? Establishing a company and opening a bank account doesn’t take more than a day. John can start exporting wool from day one.” He doesn’t ever have to step on Estonian soil.

A reputation project rather than a money maker This might be very attractive for people in the EU’s other member countries as well, because running a company in Estonia is cheaper and more comfortable than in the rest of the EU countries. “We also have a simple and clear electronic tax system and Estonia doesn’t charge a tax on reinvested profit. More and more of our tax board’s services are becoming fully automated, so you don’t have to worry about painful annual reports or anything like that,” Kotka says. Another thing to keep in mind is that becoming an e-Estonian and starting your company in the country allows you to always keep your own hands on the business. You won’t need to hire locals for that. “You can sign an agreement using your mobile ID while snowboarding down a slope in the Alps. I know, I have done it.” “Our idea is actually very simple. When someone becomes an e-Estonian, we guarantee that this person is who he says he is.” He says that the security level of this guarantee is two levels higher than anything that a simple commercial bank can ever offer. “That is because commercial ventures are not allowed to gather biometric information.” What’s in it for Estonia? At first it certainly won’t be money, as the whole cost of applying for a non-resident ID card barely covers the issuing costs for the country. “Rather, it can be seen as a reputation project. We know that we are the best in building an information society and instead of just talking about it, we would like people in other countries to experience it themselves,” Kotka says.

Edward Lucas and Steve Jürvetson The first two e-Estonian ID cards will be issued to The Economist’s journalist Edward Lucas and the American venture capitalist investor Steve Jürvetson. The reasons for these choices are simple. Lucas has been one of the most significant international messengers of the Estonian story for years now, and he has also done great work in contributing to the country´s e-reputation. Jürvetson has Estonian roots, and he is a well-known VC investor in the US. After these first two, there is no queue and everyone can apply. The programme will be launched in October. At first, one can only apply for it in Estonia, but soon afterwards all the Estonian embassies and consulates will also start accepting applications.

Photo by Michael Soo

Kotka reminds us, though, that e-residency is a benefit that the country is offering, not a commitment. “This means that if we feel that the benefit will not be used legally, we have the right to decline the application,” he says.

Country as a start-up According to Kotka, the e-residency project will be implemented step by step. He uses the phrase “country as a start-up”. Kotka, who has significant start-up experience and who has been named Entrepreneur of the Year in Estonia, knows what he is talking about. “At first we just want to build our customer base. We are not afraid of making mistakes along the way, because we are confident that we will learn the right lessons from those mistakes.” The aim is to have 10 million e-Estonians by 2025. For a country of barely 1.3 million people, that is a lot. Kotka admits that the aim of 10 million might turn out to be just a marketing slogan, but he says that we need to think big.





ESTONIAN BUSINESS AMBASSADOR NETWORK: THE GLOBAL BUSINESS FAMILY OF ESTONIA Wouldn’t it be great to travel to a foreign country and have a friend waiting there? Isn’t it much easier and more interesting to visit a country you have never been to accompanied by a local buddy who tells you about the best sites and dangers to avoid? This is the logic

Indrek Pällo

behind the Estonian Business Ambassador Network: to have a global business family which helps exporters new to the market with experience and contacts to make market entry smoother. Enterprise Estonia is the Estonian national export and investment agency which has



brought this network to life. “We saw so many friends of Estonia willing to contribute and help; however, there was no good framework on the business side for this. I believe the Estonian Business Ambassador Network will serve as a framework to connect companies which need assistance in export markets with business people who are willing to help. No less important is the fact that with this network we can extend our export promotion organisation in a clever and resource-efficient way to far away markets“ explains Indrek Pällo, from Enterprise Estonia, who is behind the idea. However, the network is not only for assisting exporters, but also, with the help of Business Ambassadors, the aim is to collect interesting investment leads from countries and companies which so far have been unreachable for Estonia, as they are without direct coverage from Enterprise Estonia. Jana Krimpe, who resides and conducts business in Azerbaijan, was the first Estonian Business Ambassador to sign up. “Estonia does not have a physical diplomatic presence in Azerbaijan, but it is very important to me to develop relations between the two countries. I am active in local business and I think Estonian companies have a lot to offer Azerbaijan. Therefore, I have made myself available to the Estonian Business Ambassador Network. I believe I can assist and provide insight, which is

necessary when entering the market here,“ says Krimpe, who mainly works on conveying the Estonian e-Governance and IT experience to Azerbaijan. When the network is launched in summer 2014, the Estonian companies will have a business friend to contact and guide them in markets unknown to them. “We hope that good news travels fast and we hope that Estonian companies find this network and use it actively. We also wish to see a lot of Business Ambassadors join the network so that in a year´s time we have 70-80 countries covered,” says Pällo, shedding light on the future ambitions of the network. If you would like more information or to become an Estonian Business Ambassador, please contact

Jana Krimpe

Welcome To The Estonian Time Machine By Holger Roonemaa

“For our foreign visitors, it is like a time-machine, offering a glimpse into the future!” exclaims the technology evangelist Indrek Vimberg. The time machine in question is the new showroom, which will open in Tallinn’s Ülemiste City before Midsummer’s Day. When Life in Estonia visited the showroom in the last days of May, it still smelled of freshly cut birch wood. The showroom walls are covered in Estonian birch wood and the entire design concept, from clothes hangers to the Threod drones hanging on the ceiling, was designed in Estonia.

Indrek Vimberg

Back to the time machine. The newly opened showroom is called “version 1.5” because its predecessor, “version 1”, was the Estonian ICT Demo Centre, which opened its doors five years ago. During the past five years, more than 1,300 delegations visited the Demo Centre, among them ten presidents, around twenty prime ministers, numerous ministers and business delegations. “Like all good things, the Demo Centre had outlived its time: five years tends to be the maximum lifespan of a project of this kind. Therefore, we needed an entirely new concept and, when we found great new rooms in Ülemiste City, we created a new solution,” explains Indrek Vimberg.




I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS COMMENT Mike Gault / CEO, Guardtime The showroom is an incredible asset for Estonian companies. In Guardtime’s case, we have had the opportunity to be introduced to senior public and private sector executives, which has led to over 10M USD in new business for our company.

Vimberg keeps referring to the showroom as a time-machine because for many foreign delegations visiting Estonia what they see and experience here is often stuff of the future. “We have implemented many excellent IT solutions which improve the standard of living of the people in Estonia and, in order to explain and demonstrate those life-changing solutions, foreign visitors who come to the new showroom benefit from a central location and a guided tour by an expert,” Vimberg explains. This means that in order to experience how one can start a new company in twenty minutes or sign a contract with one’s mobile phone regardless of location, you need to have an Estonian e-identity and knowledge of how to do it. Of course, business tourists to Estonia lack this knowledge. “This is why we brought all of our e-solutions into one location where we can paint a clear picture of Estonian e-opportunities and the positive impact they have,” he continues. What people see and hear in the showroom is a real experience. “Be prepared for something special. It will change the way you think,” promises Vimberg. His five years of experience at the ICT Demo Centre has shown him that nobody is left untouched. “People leave here astonished. Nobody has left without being positively influenced,” he confirms.



The showroom has a simple advantage. Instead of making your way through dozens of Estonian government departments, boards, ICT companies and start-ups, spending an hour here and another one there, one location gives you an overview within just an hour and a half. The new showroom consists of two parts: the “theatre part”, where visitors receive a fast and detailed presentation about e-Estonia, and the “gallery”, where everyone can get hands on experience with developments. “It is one thing to talk about the average Internet-voter needing two minutes to cast a vote or the five minutes it takes to fill in a tax declaration. But it is another thing to test those things on your own.” Vimberg estimates that the ICT Demo Centre was one of the most visited locations by business and political delegations to Estonia. But now he plans to double visitor numbers in the new, larger and more modern showroom. This means hosting at least two delegations a day. “When you travel around the world, you visit many attractions but do not remember many of them. We hope that the visitor will experience a paradigm shift which is hard to forget,” he says, adding that although the showroom does not have official opening times, it opens its doors to visitors on request, even on weekends and during non-business hours. showroom Opening times: upon request Delegation size: up to 54 people Duration of presentation: 1 hr 30 mins Admission: free Location: Ülemiste City, five minute drive from the airport, 10-minute drive from Tallinn city centre. Additional information and bookings at

“The only thing we ask is to reserve the time for a visit a week ahead.” Vimberg says that states cannot just copy-paste public sector e-services and the showroom is the connection between the know-how and know-who. “Our goal is to show what technology enables us to do and to offer people a different way of looking at things. In addition, we can definitely help with our experience and know-who. We offer a complete overview of the Estonian ICT sector network and we guarantee to be able to put you in touch with the right contacts,” promises Vimberg. In addition, he emphasizes that the showroom and its team can help visitors to pitch smart ideas in their home countries. “Invite us to visit and we will come and explain how analogous ideas have changed the way things are done in Estonia.” Vimberg has through the years done this in twenty countries all over the world. One of the aims of the showroom is definitely to raise international awareness of Estonia, but the other aim is more pragmatic. “The results of our work should be seen in the export numbers of companies,” says Vimberg. The predecessor of the showroom and the Export Cluster project, perhaps not directly, led to the export turnover of partner companies growing 250 per cent over the last three years. “We offer good

support for Estonian ICT companies and we create an additional competitive edge for the entire industry. Public and private sectors together can package the Estonian e-success story. Through cooperative efforts, we are able to stand out in the world and be equal partners with such giants as Amazon, Daimler and Ericsson.” Although the e-Estonia showroom, version 1.5, opened its doors just a few days ago, Vimberg is already thinking of version 2.0. “It will be called ICT Lighthouse. It would be fantastic if we could open its doors by the end of the decade here at the old water tower of Ülemiste City.” This would open up an entirely new dimension of the time machine by using the four existing floors of the historic water tower and adding another two floors. The sketches of version 2.0 already exist on paper… See you in the time machine of e-Estonia!




I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS By Maris Takk / Estonian Design Centre

Estonian Shoe Design Picking Up The Pace Although large shoe factories are a thing of the past in Estonia, original shoe design has not vanished into thin air. On the contrary, there are more and more craftsmen and, although there are just a few designers creating handmade footwear, those shoes never fail to draw attention to their wearer. Will shoe design remain a pleasure of the select few or grow into a significant branch of the economy?

Life in Estonia presents three new shoe designers and shoe brands that boldly confront mass production with their own unique styles. Estonia has a long history of large-scale shoe production and export. But today nobody remembers Kommunaar (which grew out of the Union factory of the first republic) or Põhjala, the once famous producer of rubber boots. Surprisingly, the design of unique handmade

footwear is now developing in Estonia and first steps are being taken to start production. These days handmade shoes are just as special as tailor-made clothes: although they are more expensive, they have a definite edge over mass production when it comes to comfort and fit. After all, they have been created especially for the wearer. Designer shoes enable the wearer to stand out from the masses, because they are not available on the high street.

Exclusively for men Sille Sikmann’s brand Schekmann (after the Baltic German name of her family, which means “stylish man” in German) designs shoes and boots exclusively for men, mostly out of compassion for men who have always had to make do with brown and black footwear as opposed to the more diverse choice available for ladies. The brand Schekmann was born out of the desire to enrich the wardrobe of local style-conscious and independent men with extravagant and unique shoes and boots. In addition to footwear, Schekmann offers other stylish accessories for men, including braces, wallets and bags. The products are made of genuine leather, inside the shoe and on the sole. “The men who wear my creations are bold enough to be themselves,” says the designer. Regardless of the fact that it is women who show more interest in Sille Sikmann’s designs than men, the designer has no plans to start designing shoes for women, instead leaving them with the pure joy of shopping for presents.



Handmade shoes Trendy footwear for summer and winter

Contemporary Estonian shoe design has been strongly influenced by the passion and success of the designer Kaspar Paas. Having won the Young Designer Award SÄSI in 2007, Kaspar decided to continue his training in England, where he made shoes for several years at the oldest still working shoe company in London, John Lobb. Shoes are madeto-measure there and a pair of shoes can set you back 3,500-4,000 GBP. Boots are even more expensive. Kaspar even got the chance to create a pair of shoes for Prince Charles. Today the shoe designer is back in Estonia working on his new collection, but he is in such high demand that he still receives orders from Lobb and does the work from Estonia.

Studio Nahk is a newcomer on the Estonian shoe design landscape. The people behind the design company are Karin Kallas and Erik Past, who use special self-developed lasts, which adapt to the foot, and shoe designs which are specifically tailored for the Nordic foot type. The designs by Studio Nahk are meant for active women who like to wear extra comfortable but pretty footwear whilst going on about their everyday business. The selection ranges from black masculine high boots to rainbow-coloured moccasins and ballerinas, to tailor-made wedding shoes. The top, inner lining and the sole are made of leather, and all shoes are handmade in the studio. In addition to shoes, there is a selection of handbags and other leather accessories available. The seasonal collections are issued twice a year, but only a limited number of ready-made sizes are made and the work is based on orders. Thus each model can be adapted to the customers’ feet and wishes.

Led by the Estonian Design Centre and the Embassy of the Republic of Estonia in London, the exhibition “Fashion Now: Estonia” opened during the London Fashion Week in February. Marit Ilison, Kärt Põldmann and Jonurm and Sille Sikmann presented their fashion, shoe and accessory collections at the exhibition. “Estonian designers have the unique skill of working with materials and merging old handicraft techniques with a contemporary approach,” commented Anna Orsini, from the British Council of Fashion, who visited Estonia and met all of the designers presented at the exhibition. “I would really like to complement the designers on the high level of exhibiting their collections and the photography”, she added. The fashion specialist with over twenty-five years of experience in the field had only praise for the state of Estonian fashion.





Kärt Põldmann creates shoes for hedonists The shoe designer Kärt Põldmann creates special shoes, which are definitely not meant to be worn every day. She likes to say that the shoes she designs are simple, yet speak volumes: like a sparkle in the eye. Those stylishly glossy creations are the best companions for people who love life, dreaming and champagne. Wearing them will make you feel like a prince or a princess. Kärt, who claims that it is by pure chance that she became a shoe designer, says that she does not think about numbers, but focuses on the magical side of shoe-design, enchanted by fairy-tales, legends, customs, traditions and symbols which are related to shoes. The designer uses quality Italian patent leather and boxcalf, velvet and silk, as well as plant-based leather for the inner lining. The designs are simple and laconic, mostly consisting of “one-cut” shoes, the special feel coming from small tassels, piping, borders and so on. “I believe that the wearer of my shoes stands tall even without having 10-cm heels on,”says Kärt about her designs. Kärt studied leather design at the Tartu Arts School and the Estonian Academy of Arts (both BA and MA). Her shoes have received a great deal of international attention at exhibitions in Finland, Latvia, Germany, Great Britain, France and Spain.



Reval Denim Guild

The First Denim Guild In The World

MINU is a denim brand with a difference. Dedicated to excellence and innovation, it invites you into the world of vision to explore the possibilities of denim and its endless flexibility over time. Inspired by a vibrant heritage, it was brought to life by Sten Karik and Joan Hint in their native Tallinn (known as Reval from the 13th century until 1917, and from 1941-1944), one of the oldest capital cities in northern Europe. In 2010, after months of research on Tallinn’s long forgotten roots and traditional craft heritage, the MINU brand was finally born.




I ECONOMY AND BUSINESS Life in Estonia asked Sten Karik to tell their story Sten Karik: MINU was born out of a great vision. The idea came in 2009 and by the beginning of 2010 my muse Joan and I had found companions willing to give birth to something so new and unknown. We started with cotton shirts and before we knew it we were in the world of denim. We did not plan to create a denim brand; we just wanted to create great things and jeans just happened to be the first big step. But the world of denim is very complex. We had to delve into it, and the deeper we went the more we were affected by this incredible blue material. The roughness and the softness, the way it ages, fades, resists and transforms over time. In 2011 our first two-coloured iconic jeans The Visionary Pants - were patented worldwide.

In 2013 we brought Reval Denim Guild into existence. Since the very beginning, we’ve focused on every little detail, great fit and how everything merges together in the most unexpected ways. As time went by, we realised that how we created was not so different from our ancestors, who joined together in guilds, taking an oath to do their best in everything they did. Highly inspired by our heritage and very much in love with people who do their own thing and who think of their work as continual movement toward absolute craftsmanship, we united the greatest denim masters and tailors under one roof of the very first denim guild in the world. Reval Denim Guild is a philosophy. It is a common vision behind a brand where people love what they do. Inspired by our vibrant heritage and timeless grace of fine craftsmanship, we want to bring back the meaning of what we wear and how it is made. The future of luxury is tradition, time and craftsmanship, combined with never-ending innovation. Naturally, MINU is not going anywhere. It is the brand’s name. With a philosophy behind it. MINU focuses mainly on jeans (which are also crafted by the guild artisans), while Reval Denim Guild produces statement collections, such as Chapters, each fall. Rich in details, the range of heavyweight fabrics speak clearly of the northern spirit: hand-crafted coats, capes, suits, dresses and even hats – all with a hint of nobility and a bit of magic that mark our approach to denim, while supporting the revelation of our inner natures. Just like in olden times, all is done by the same hands under the same roof in the guild’s hometown, Tallinn, and this is the way we will always keep it.



By Villu Viikholm / Photos by Kalle Veesaar

True Grit: The Story Of Renard Speed Shop

Renard Grand Tourer

Almost everybody who knows something about Estonia knows that we are a very small country, but they also know that we are capable of great things. It is not news that we can hold our own in the global IT race, but when it comes to motorcycles I bet Estonia does not instantly come to mind. I have always seen Estonia as a slow country, because we seem to be a year or two behind the world’s trends. Are we really behind the rest of the world, or are we smart? As a nation, we watch what is going on in Europe, Asia and the US, and we pick only the coolest trends. That explains why we have such cool districts as Kalamaja and Uus-Maailm, and why locals flock to such places as Loomelinnak, with its alternative cosy bars and cafes. Despite the best efforts of Tallinn´s mayor and city officials, we have such amazing two-wheel activities as Tour d´ÖÖ. We have had to wait a long time for Estonia to become the birthplace of some the most radical and trendy motorcycles the world has ever seen. There are now features and articles in the coolest motorcycle design blogs (, Return of the Cafe and, not to mention a beautiful feature in the cult motorcycle book The Ride. I´m talking about the Renard Speed Shop, or Renard Motorcycles as some of you know it.





“Kuri Kuldnokk“

Rebirth of the Renard The name Renard has been associated with two-wheelers since the end of WWI, when the company made 98cm3 mopeds. Unfortunately, the factory was bombed in 1944, putting an end to the Renard name. The name stayed buried until 2008, when a group of radical thinking entrepreneurs decided to resurrect the name Renard and put a new spin on the art of making a motorcycle. Contrary to the normal behaviour of an Estonian, the gentlemen behind Renard Motorcycles dreamt big and were able to achieve their goals. The finished Renard motorcycles are some of the coolest looking and technically advanced machines that have ever come out of the old Soviet republic, or from the cold north for that matter. Renard motorcycles have special characteristics: carbon/kevlar monocoque main-frames, and hollow load-bearing unibodies that sport airbox and rubberized fuel cells, from which the engines and all major components are hung. Do not overlook the girder front end and the wheels, because both are also made from carbon fibre. The heart and soul of these awesome machines is also full of character and flamboyance, which you might expect from an Italian motor. In my opinion, Moto Guzzi’s air-cooled Quattrovalvole V-twin is a very suitable motor for such a masterpiece of engineering. Actually the only thing that can disturb Renard Motorcycles’ plans to take the world by storm is the price of these exclusive bikes. With a hefty price tag of 49,000 €, the clientele for such bikes is not massive, which does not mean that there will be no Renards riding around the world. This autumn Renards will appear in the biggest motorcycle fairs in Europe.



Renard Motorcycles’ production is currently limited, but the driving force behind Renard Motorcycles, Andres Uibomäe, is a visionary and an extraordinary fabricator who also thinks fast on his feet, so he has decided to offer the motorcycle public his creations at more affordable prices. From a single vision, the Renard Speed Shop was born. Andres has gathered around him some of the very best fabricators and mechanics in Estonia, and together they are on a mission to make the most stylish cafe racers, scramblers and customs the world has ever seen. The basis for these creations are barn-finds that scavenged from the cold storages of southern Europe.

The Honda CB500T known as “Kuri Kuldnokk“ For this article, we decided to choose two bikes that show the craftsmanship of the Renard Speed Shop and its master fabricators. We live in a time when trends are born in one place in the world and the next day they can be all the rave in another part of the world. Of course, trends can fade as fast as they spread, so being versatile is one of the biggest strengths an individual or a company can have. The two bikes featured in this article lie on the opposite ends of the motorcycle design world but, being created by the same company, they are the best examples to showcase the Renard Speed Shop´s craftsmanship and versatility.

The protagonist of our story, the Honda CB500T, or “Kuri Kuldnokk“ (“wicked starling”), is the perfect example of a slick cafe racer. The Honda in question came on the radar of the RSS guys when they were on another hunt for projects in Germany. The Honda was well looked after and had low mileage, but at some point in its life it had been in an accident, was left in storage and was never repaired. Fast forward about 10 years and fortunately Andres found it rotting away and saw the potential in it. The bike found its way to the Renard Speed Shop and was stripped to bare metal, exposing a bare canvas for Andres and his team to work their magic on. The Honda got the full cafe racer treatment. The rear subframe was cut off and replaced with a handmade subframe, on which now rests a custom-made seat and tail. The front forks were reworked and they now have a new stance and triple trees. A big factor in the bike’s stance is the rear swing-arm, as that was made longer by 70mm and now works in unison with a pair of Öhlins gas shocks from a Yamaha SR500. The main focus of the front end is of course the headlamp, which was found in a swap meet and began its existence as an old car´s fog lamp. What really makes this cafe racer stand out is the paint job. Every piece of old paint was stripped and the bike was repainted with a flash black/ white/gold paint. Even the wheels were painted gold and re-laced. Of course, no paint job would be complete without pinstripes, so the tank got pinstripes and its very own logo. When you look up the meaning of cafe racer in a dictionary, you will find the picture of the Kuri Kuldnokk illustrating it.

The Renard Speed Shop´s BMW K75 We now move on to the antagonist of our story and the complete opposite of the slick Kuri Kuldnokk. Please welcome the Renard Speed Shop´s BMW K75. Usually when we think about a BMW K75, it does not strike us as a likely donor for a major customisation project. It is even more unlikely that the donor bike in question will be involved in an accident and left to rust in a barn in Germany, where Andres and his team discovered it. Fortunately, the Renard team saw the potential in the bike and decided to completely overhaul it. So they fired up the gas-torch and reworked the whole back end of the bike. The K75 now has an adjustable monoshock set-up that lies parallel to the swing-arm. The front fork is from a Moto Guzzi and is fitted with Brembo radial callipers that can stop a bus if needed. The wheels were upgraded to 17-inch items and now sport rain-slicks that give some serious grip. For me, the most beautiful details on the bike are the seat unit (furnished with alcantra leather) and the Danmotos silencer, which co-exists harmoniously with the BMW 1150R tail light. Unlike a regular custom show bike, this BMW will be ridden hard and often, like a real street fighter. The owners of our two Renard Speed Shop built bikes have one thing in common, they both possess bikes that are unique and special. The guys at the Renard Speed Shop are not only enriching people’s lives by giving them amazing bikes to look at and ride, but they are also doing a service to the environment by giving old and abandoned bikes a chance to shine again. Thank you all at Renard Speed Shop for making Estonia a household name in the world of custom-built motorcycles! BMW K75





Viks: Steel Urban Bicycle Made In Estonia By Silver Tambur / Estonian World The Estonian bicycle brand Velonia has introduced the Viks, an urban commuter bike with a striking design and uniquely shaped frame. Thanks to its unique construction, with two identical steel tubes that are joined together in the front of the bike, there is no need for a seat tube and the bike weighs only 5 kilograms. Until recently, the Viks was still in prototype phase, but the first bicycles can now be ordered through their website.

What is your business model?

Indrek Narusk, the creator of the Viks, answered our questions.

How are your bicycles priced?

How did the idea of starting your business come about?

Currently there is a basic price line for the frame and for the entire bike. There are also a lot of custom options available and then the price is calculated per order. I might introduce two pricing models in the future (a basic model and a premium) but it’s not clear yet if and when.

It was quite simple actually. I wanted a commuter bike for summer and didn’t really fancy anything available in shops. I wanted something different, something unique. As I’ve dealt with bikes before, I thought “why not build one?” I looked for inspiration online, did a couple of sketches and then had a pretty good idea of what I wanted. I have a mechanical engineering background and I’ve also done start-ups before, as I was one of the founders of GrabCAD. I drew everything up in 3D CAD software and then it was ready to build. I did the design in winter and started to actually build it in March. Initially, the idea was just to build one for myself. But, once the images



were out there, a lot of people were interested. Then I thought maybe I should start building and selling them. And here I am now.

Quite straightforward. I sell/ship directly from Estonia to all over the world. I myself am involved in building the frame/bike so there is a small fee for me in there somewhere.

Where are you based and why? Tallinn, Estonia, because I live here. There are probably better places in the world to build bikes (countries that have experience in this field), but I’m here now and it’s about time Estonia had its own bicycle manufacturer.

How were you able to fund the business? Well I’m doing everything out of my own pocket. I have customers who are willing to place orders with down payments, so that helps a lot. I

Indrek Narusk

The VIKS WOODaLIKE project might look for funding in the upcoming autumn/winter, but it’s all dependent on the market interest and how it changes.

How has your market changed since you started? How has your business changed to keep pace? I’ve been on the market with the Viks for only a couple of months, so it’s hard to talk about any changes in the market. But, generally, the bicycle industry is doing relatively well in the slow economy. More and more people want to ride bikes and this opens up more opportunities.

What was the minimum viable product (MVP) you built? Has it changed and, if so, how? The first bike. Once it was built and the first images were online, I got the first orders. Just like that, based on a couple of photos. I’ve made a few technical changes since the very first prototype that have made the Viks a lot better bike to ride. There are more changes to come, but the current version is pretty good to ride. There is not much improvement needed.

What would you say have been some of the key things you’ve learnt so far as an entrepreneur?

As a result of an extraordinary collaboration between VIKS (Velonia Bicycles) from Estonia and the Dutch WOODaLIKE, a sensational urban commuter has been created: The VIKS WOODaLIKE I. The bike has been transformed into an even greater feast for the eyes after being treated with woodgrain technique. Normally the woodgrain technique is only used to renovate monumental buildings, but WOODaLIKE is not that fastidious. Frames, rims, saddles and even handle bars have been subjected to this fascinating form of craftsmanship. Although the bike appears to be made of wood, nothing can be farther from the truth. You can only tell it’s made of steel by touching it. Steel, aluminium or carbon frames bring a number of advantages into the game when compared to a model made of wood. It’s stronger, lighter, more durable and offers more possibilities for shaping the bike. The ‘Estonian’ has been given a magical effect by the woodgrain applied to the frame. This has to be the coolest bike in the world.

Don’t postpone anything; do everything now. Love what you do and believe in it, even if the future is blurry. Don’t regret anything and remember that there is always time for a bike ride.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur looking to start a business? Start a business at least once in your life. It doesn’t matter if you succeed or not; the experience is the most valuable thing. You’ll be a much wiser man/woman. Don’t be afraid: just do it!

Where do you see your business in five years’ time? I want to see Viks bikes in every part of the world. I want people to know about them and want them. I want a lot of happy people riding bikes – Viks bikes.





A Revolution In Estonian Brewing By Kaarel Mikkin /



Estonia beat Norway to take the top three prizes at the beer championships At the beer championships held in Helsinki, the beers of small Estonian breweries beat Norwegian beers to take the three top awards. Estonian and Norwegian embassies brought along five different types of beer from their respective countries to be blind tested. In conclusion Estonia beat Norway with the score 631:454.

Worldwide, the production of beer has become the domain of multinational companies, and Estonia is no exception. The market share of our largest breweries, A. Le Coq, Saku Õlletehas and Viru Õlu, is 90 per cent. Yet recently Estonia has been witnessing something of a beer revolution, as many small producers have entered the market with exciting beers. Local home, hobby and small breweries have a very small share of the market but have managed to attract the attention of beer lovers, continuing to win their hearts.

of a couple of months. Those beers were as different from each other as strawberry and wasabi. I tasted, took notes, gave ratings, provided feedback, talked to the creators and asked for more. It turned out there are more and more small producers out there! And I don’t mean home-made malt diluters but real hop-heads, who take their magnificent recipes and brew their beers in nice bottles, with some crazy names and brilliant labels. Various small producers have now set up their breweries, while others are still roaming around in existing breweries to create their beers.

I am convinced that every large revolution begins with a small one by an individual. Mine started by collecting beer corks and continued with a real surprise when a marketing genius I know left his day job in order to start brewing and running a bar (crazy!), when my politics course mate opened his own beer shop in a small town (even crazier!), and when I visited friends in Belgium, where I could have instantly grown my beer cork collection tenfold.

It must be said that the situation in the Estonian retail shops is improving, mainly with the choice of beers from foreign, but also local small producers. There are specialised beer shops (Drink Shop, Gambrinus Beershop No1, Špunka and Koht) and exceptionally good beer sections in such stores as Stockmann. When searching for exciting finds, one should visit gourmet, deli and bio shops, where one can always find new specimens not found elsewhere. Not to mention beer bars, where one can drink local and foreign tap beers which cannot be found in retail outlets (Pudel, Möku, Schrammi Keller, Põrgu, Punane Ronk, Moonshine and many others).

This is when it happened: I discovered some beers which had found their way to Estonia via some specialised shops. Through trial and error, I discovered an entirely new and exciting world in 0.33l, styles and methods of preparation I had no idea existed, weird taste combinations, and totally ugly and unbelievably beautiful bottles, not to mention corks. My wallet complained, but my heart sang. And when my course mate with the beer shop started to send me beer by post, I must have tasted beers produced by a dozen local small and home breweries in the course

The best beer of the competition was “Virmalised” produced by Põhjala brewery, the second place went to “Väike India” by Lehe brewery and the third place was taken by “Kuldne Eil” by Õllenaut.

These are great times, as the market is growing and developing. The increasing number of producers is beneficial to all. It is an opportunity to come onto the market with something new and special, and fortunately many are taking advantage of this. Believe me, this is only the beginning!







A little guide to breweries in alphabetical order:

The concept of Hampelmann Brewery is very simple: you can produce beer which corresponds to the classic Reinheitsgebot anywhere without compromising. Hampelmann’s aim is to bring an Estonian taste to its beers, to give the beverage a local nuance. On the basis of this idea, four main beers were developed, which include kama (a traditional Estonian grain mix - ed.), wild rosemary, juniper, and home-made apple wine. A whole list of ingredients are waiting their turn to be mixed into the beer: chestnuts, acorns, horseradish, mulberries, cannabis, nettles and wormwood, as well as the Estonian national fish: Baltic herring.

Anderson’s Sten Anderson works in sports and IT in Tartu, but as a hobby he has been producing beer for a year and a half. His interest in beer grew as the beer culture developed and local shops and bars started to offer a wider selection. The next logical step was to try brewing himself.

The idea of testing everything and just having fun also gave birth to the company name, Hampelmann. The aim of this brand is to make others enjoy themselves with its contents and its look. The names of the beers follow this principle: why call your beer something conventional, when the vocabulary and language rules allow for anything?

Even if you produce only 50 litres at home, the result should be of high quality. Anderson´s beers have bold recipes and the bottles are recognisable by their characteristic labels, which have been designed by the graphic designer Kristin Pärn. To date, Anderson’s has made 15-20 brews. Sten produces beer for the sheer fun of it, providing enough for friends and acquaintances. But this activity is so infectious that it is likely that at some point he will have to leave the field of IT in order to brew on a larger scale.

Crazy laughter and joy are the reaction desired by Hampelmann brewers. Their small home-based business has developed into an automated experimental brewery with a 100-litre capacity, and this is surely just the beginning!


Lehe is a small Estonian brewery founded by Tarmo and Gristel Tali, and it was born out of the desire to share their passion and joy of brewing. After four years of producing beer at home, more and more friends and fans wished to buy good beer they couldn’t find in shops or pubs. Thus their hobby became a business and the thought of brewing and messing around with malt, hops and yeast, and large-scale production, created a real spark in the eyes of the couple.



In the Lehe brewery, which has a 1000-litre brewing kettle, the beer is produced as a traditional handicraft. Only malt, hops and yeast are used, without preservatives or pasteurisation. The Lehe Brewery enjoys the freedom of brewing exactly the kind of beer they like and which will appeal to great beer enthusiasts. There is no need to compromise on quality or product selection: the beer is born out of love, not out of the desire to win a share of the market or increase turnover.

Chris Pilkington, the current brewing master, comes from the BrewDog factory in Scotland.

Photos by Lauri Laan


In 2011, the Põhjala Brewery was the first to actively try to restart the Estonian beer culture, which had come to a halt during the Soviet times, by producing and marketing handmade beers according to its own recipes. The years have added experience and new team members: the current brewing master came from the BrewDog factory in Scotland. As the first brewery of its kind, Põhjala deservedly received a lot of attention. Põhjala Öö received almost the maximum number of points (95) from the beer bible, and it is the highest rated beer ever produced in Estonia. This high score was not awarded by chance: from the start, the Põhjala team has worked with all its soul and dedication, paving the way for all of the other newcomers. Põhjala has managed to produce a range of great handmade beers. Its own brewery was recently opened in Tallinn and soon true Põhjala beers will be produced: Californian-style wheat beer, the powerful grapefruit IPA and a new version of the good old rye ale. When the cold autumn arrives, the new Põhjala Öö and many other interesting products will come onto the market. In contrast to many other local small producers, Põhjala has already worked its way into the beer bar sector and is making a strong move to start exporting to Europe and beyond.





Raba Pöide

Regardless of the long history of and myths about beer brewing on the island, Saaremaa has not had proper beer production for years, if we disregard home-made ale. Koit and Kristel Oinberg-Kelder decided to move to Saaremaa, into a farmhouse owned by their grandparents in Pöide. The only thing certain at that point was the plan to create an enterprise which would provide work and activity for all their family members and for village inhabitants, and help to promote the development of local life and tourism on Saaremaa. The couple did not stop to think about it for long, and a few years, lots of money, time and nerves later, the first load of local rye ale rolled out of the Pöide farm brewery. The brewery only makes rye ale, but once new kettles arrive, there are plans to produce two or three main types of ale, in addition to special brews, one of which will definitely be made of local raw ingredients. “Unfortunately, we cannot be certain about the quality of the malt, as it varies from year to year. Currently we import malt from Germany,” explained the brewery master Koit. The production capacity today is 500 litres per week, which will definitely double due to high demand.

Pühaste Eero Mander started to brew beer in Pühaste three years ago. The first load was made of maltose, but the taste was beyond criticism and this made him desire more control over the entire brewing process. The next few batches were made of half-malt and from then on purely of malt. The early days were difficult due to the lack of availability of raw ingredients, especially the rarer types of hops. But in recent years the situation has improved drastically and they have established good contacts with several direct suppliers. Today Pühaste is in the testing phase. There is no official production yet but intensive work continues on developing new recipes and on continuous learning and improvement in order to reach the goal of opening the brewery in Pühaste with a 5-10 hl capacity. Five to six beers are in rotation, in addition to many oneoff experimental brews to discover new taste combinations.



The story of how Raba came into being is classic: a couple of hobby brewers decided to put their “hops into the same cupboard”. It’s obvious that their aim was to drink great Estonian beer and there was no other possibility except to make some themselves as, so they claim, there was no great Estonian-made beer in Estonia before the beginning of 2013. After a couple of years of independent brewing, there was quite a range of different beers in Raba and one of them created the “wow” effect in the makers themselves. It had turned out special. In August 2013, three “wow bottles” found their way into the Gambrinus beer shop in Tartu and received significant feedback. A comment on Facebook said: “this you should bring to the people”. And at the end of 2013 it happened! As Raba does not have its own production facility, they “gypsy” around, producing wherever possible. The only important aim is to produce good ale, which first and foremost the makers themselves need to like.


Jaanis Tammela started to brew in the late 1990s, experimenting with maltose, malt bread and various herbs and hops. The quality of the beer was demonstrated by how fast his friends and guests consumed it. Important inspiration came from small brewers he met in Florida in 2013, whose products were extremely diverse. His own favourites are IPAs, which come in endless taste and aroma variations. His guests like Dry Stout or Lager, and he has also experimented with cherry and raspberry ales. Today he brews under the Home Brew name just for his own consumption, as the existing legislation does not make it easy to legally market small quantities. Hopefully, the situation will change, as it is nonsense to apply the same rules to small breweries as to companies producing millions of litres.

Tanker Ants Laidam has been a beer enthusiast for a long time. As a serious rock musician and band member, he has always known how to enjoy a cooling beer and this in turn has played an important role in the birth of Tanker. He got into more serious home-based brewing in the spring of 2013, after he bought the previous equipment of Põhjala Brewery and created his very own first brew with the help of the Põhjala brew master Chris. Since then, many new recipes and beers have been created, always aiming to be different from the products of large breweries. The current product range includes Kyte Peale (“heat on” in Estonian), in which both more maltloving and hops-loving beer fans find something to enjoy. The lack of finances and the “gypsy status” limit production capability, but the aim is to increase their volume and to bring new surprising Tanker products onto the market. The initial cool label was originally designed by the American designer Chris Parks and completed by Sten Lindpere.

Tänav & Kolk Tõnis Tänav and Peeter Kolk are schoolmates who began working together when Tõnis returned from the United States some years ago. He was deeply impressed by the culture of handmade beer in America and this gave him the impetus to start something similar in Estonia. The young enthusiasts built all their equipment themselves and this kind of brewing was very experimental. In the process, they have produced dozens of small collections, have packaged them authentically in ”almost-like-real“ bottles and have given them impressive names with designed labels. Their longer term goal is to enlarge their hobby production and to take T&K beers to a larger audience. They have given a hand to the world of beer freaks and understand that the curiosity about making, tasting and enjoying beer in Estonia is on the rise.

Throughout history, beer has been a much loved beverage of many nations. Beer is also considered to be the oldest alcoholic beverage, the first traces of which date back 9,500 years. The first written references to beer come from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia. The art of beer brewing spread throughout Europe via the Germanic and Celtic tribes 3,000 years ago. In Estonia, beer brewing has a long history. Archaeological finds demonstrate that approximately 1,000 years ago barley was cultivated in Estonia and it is most likely that, together with grain cultivation, it was learned how to make beverages by fermentation in Estonia. In addition, wheat, rye and oats have long been cultivated in Estonia. Traditionally, beer brewing was a task for men. There were special brewing methods and recipes in different parts of Estonia, with different taste, strength and colour characteristics. The beer brewed traditionally got an additional kick from soaked junipers, birch branches from bogs, bread, raw rye flour and even the water from boiled anchovies.


Vormsi handmade ales are companions that tickle your taste buds and relieve everyday stress. These unique beers are unpasteurised and unfiltered, and are easy to enjoy. Vormsi Brewery is mainly a lifestyle business for Arkadi Tammik and not an Excel-based profit- and growthseeking business. Arkadi brews beer which he himself enjoys. Many ideas are tried out as one needs space for discovery and creativity, allowing for mistakes which one can learn from. Vormsi does not order his malt from the beer Mecca Belgium, and the hops arrive from other parts of Europe, from Great Britain or from the USA. It is the carefully selected aroma hops which give Vormsi beers their special flavour. After all, every cake baked by grandma tastes better than those bought at a shop.






Photos by Lauri Laan

Ilmar, who has become somewhat of a beer guru, started to brew beer five years ago, when modern brewing materials became available in Estonia. At first, it was all just for fun, but soon a circle of fans had developed who wanted more. This led to a more active hobby with degustations and training sessions, until the 55-litre kettle at home became too small to meet the demand. This called for an action plan, a budget and a detailed business plan in order to try for a bank loan. When appropriate equipment was found in the UK, the production was up and running. In winter 2013, the first Õllenaut bottles landed on shop shelves. The choice of products is large to meet various tastes. All recipes are old favourites of the brewers, and have been well-tested. There are very few small brewers in the world who produce the same kind of beer over and over again: brewing depends on the mood and the drinker, as people like change. Today the company has tested about ten products; some will remain in the main selection and others are one-offs: everything depends on feedback, sales figures and production opportunities. The company produces 120,000 litres per year and there are definite plans to expand production capacity and add equipment in order to speed up and simplify production. The post-fermentation of Õllenaut takes place in the bottle, which is why there are no plans to produce draught beer. Bottles provide the required flexibility and are certainly more comfortable.

The labels on the bottles are designed by Sten Lindpere, who has won the Pronksmuna (Bronze Egg) prize for advertising.



Award-winning designer Sten Lindpere and Ilmar Räni, Õllenaut's brewing master.


Herbert Lukk ( 1892-1919) „Street, Boards and Houses“


22.5 x 34.5 I

oil on canvas, 1918


Endel Kõks (1912-1983) „View of Tartu“ I


90 x 100


oil on canvas, 1938

Konrad Mägi (1878-1925) „Venice“


45 x 53 I

oil on cardboard, 1922-1923


August Jansen (1881-1957) „Red House“



69 x 70


Oil on cardboard, 1910s

Nikolai Triik (1884-1940) „Portrait of Aino Suits“


91 x 74


oil on canvas, 1914


Ants Laikmaa (1866-1942) „View from Capri“



46 x 56


pastel on paper, 1911-1912

Eerik Haamer (1908-1994) „Harbour“ I

41 x 33 I

oil on cardboard, 1945


Andrei Jegorov (1878-1954) „Winter Suburb“



73.5 x 89.5


oil on canvas, 1928-1930

Aleksander Vardi (1901-1983) „Notre Dame de Paris“ I 46 x 61 I

oil on canvas, 1937

Colours Of The Golden Age By Eero Epner The exhibition that opened in Tallinn’s Mikkeli Museum is entitled “Colours of the Golden Age” and consists of paintings from Enn Kunila’s collection. The exhibition is best summed up by Enn Kunila when he says “Often people talk about motifs or literary content in paintings, but for me those are not the most important aspects. Everything to do with composition and colour is much more significant, especially the strokes of the paintbrush.” It is according to this principle that Kunila has selected works for his collection, the majority of which are paintings by Estonian artists from the first half of the 20th century. The exhibition has arranged the works into three sections: works completed in Estonia, works created abroad, and portraits and figural compositions, along with two paintings which are united by a certain Olympian view of the world. In the first hall, we see the portraits and figural compositions which are united by a certain sense of melancholy. The figures in these paintings never look the viewer in the eye, but have turned away, staring into the distance, cutting themselves off from the audience: lost in loneliness. When there are multiple figures in the paintings, they do not establish contact with each other, remaining separate, divorced from other figures. Sometimes faces are hidden behind hair, and sometimes figures have turned their backs or reveal only pensive profiles. Some people consider melancholy to be one of the core characteristics

of Nordic people. Inexplicable sadness is created by living in darkness, sensing the different seasons, which tells us that everything will pass, everything is ephemeral. On the first floor, there are landscape views painted in Estonia, as well as travel works by Estonian artists. We often associate the paintings which have been created at home with national identity. However, today we can view those works separately from nationalism and, if desired, from the opposite angle: for the authors those paintings were rarely linked to a personal or national identity: their main focus was on landscape. The second group includes paintings created by Estonian painters abroad. In the first half of the 20th century, living abroad was very common for Estonian artists (as it was totally impossible during the Soviet occupation in the second half of the 20th century). Going abroad was “normal” and accessible to anyone, especially since often no visas were needed, the train connections were great and the travel times not particularly long (the train journey from Berlin to Paris lasted 17 hours for example). It was possible to live even if one lived in poverty. Some have recalled that it was possible to find a roof over one’s head for two nights in Italy for the money received from selling one postage stamp and there was still some cash left over for food. One could drink from many of the public fountains. There was no clearly sensed differentiation between the abroad and Estonia; one melted into the other and travelling was organic, fast and ordinary.





Enn Kunila:

Estonian Art Is Estonia’s Business Card By Eero Epner / Photos by Meeli Küttim

Enn Kunila with the portrait of his favourite painter Konrad Mägi by the master of modernism Nikolai Triik. The portrait is often referred to as “The Portrait of A Freezing Artist” (1908).



Enn Kunila is a true gentleman with faultless manners. He is an entrepreneur, art collector and opera lover who donates significantly to both art and opera. Art needs support and Enn Kunila is a patron in the best sense of the word, not a sponsor. He does not expect anything in return. For him, art patronage is not a business project.

Life in Estonia asked one of the most well-known art collectors in Estonia where and how it is possible to buy Estonian art. Enn Kunila owns a large painting collection, which mainly includes Estonian traditional paintings from the early 20th century on, starting with Konrad Mägi (1878–1925). Kunila admits that it is difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when his interest in art became more serious, although he began to collect art in a more studied way after Estonia regained independence. “Being involved in art exhilarates me and it is like a holiday. I like talking to artists in the evenings, as they have an entirely different attitude to life, and I love to live in the same space with paintings.” When asked about the size of his painting collection and how much he has invested in it, Enn Kunila remains diplomatically vague: “An art collection cannot be valued in terms of the number of pieces. If my collection included just five significant paintings by van Gogh, I would have a considerable art collection by world standards. I buy paintings on the basis of their artistic value and when I like them. I invest in art according to my means.”

You have organised several exhibitions on the basis of your collection and you never exhibit the same works. Your collection continues to grow. How does art in Estonia reach the art collector? I believe that we have something in common with the experience abroad but there are also differences. Similarly to other countries, there is a functioning gallery system in Estonia and art auctions are held on a regular basis. There is quite a long tradition of art auctions in Estonia, dating back more than 15 years. A decade ago, during the height of auctions, there might be twenty a year, organised by five or six galleries and offering more than 400 paintings, mainly from the period which interests me: 1900-1945. This is considerable for a small country. Today, the number of auctions has really decreased, but they do take place on a regular basis, and they are reliable and proper in every way.

Unlike in larger countries, pieces of art in Estonia also move around from hand to hand. As there are about ten larger collectors and their names are publicly known, people often make direct contact. I have never hidden my contacts or remained under cover; this is why I have had the pleasure of meeting many interesting and nice people. By the way, the people who call me are not intermediaries but people who have either inherited paintings or have owned them for dozens of years and have now decided to sell them. The background stories are part of the paintings and therefore I really enjoy talking to people who have personal connections to their pieces. Collecting art is a very personal thing for me, many works hang on the walls of my home and, when I choose a piece for my collection, the main principle of selection is that I personally like the work.

Can Estonian art be found at foreign auctions? Yes it can. For example, Baltic German art, but also works by the first professional painter Johann Köler (1826-2899), the landscape painter Konrad Mägi, who was one of the most colour-sensitive Estonian painters of the first decades of the 20th century, and others. Estonian artists fare well in comparison with European art of those days and therefore those paintings are also included in foreign auctions.

To what extent is buying art an investment for you? Of course it is an investment, and perhaps the most important investment of all. First and foremost, I invest my time and I receive a great feeling as interest, as well as the aesthetic experience and an inexplicable feeling of joy. I do not invest in art for financial profit, but in the name of spiritual growth. I do not sell the pieces I have bought. I have them restored, ask art historians to compile thorough background information and exhibit them to everyone interested. This is my investment.





Does it make any sense to invest in Estonian art? I wouldn’t recommend doing it for financial profit. There are easier and faster ways to make money. But if one looks for art which emphasises the aesthetic experience which grows out of the unbelievable use of colour, then older Estonian art is a valuable investment indeed. This has been increasingly noticed in the art history writings on older European art and, for example, an exhibition I organised in the Finnish art hall Taidehalli in Helsinki was extremely successful and received many great reviews. When thousands of people in Helsinki or Brussels come to see Estonian art, the investment has been worth it for me; I even consider it “profitable”, but not in terms of money. I consider Estonian art to be Estonia’s business card and when thousands accept this card there is hope that they will develop as people and as friends of Estonia. If that is not a dividend of my art collection, I don’t know what a dividend is.

Is it difficult to find new works for your collection? It is indeed increasingly so. On the one hand, there are not that many valuable pieces of art available. The Estonian art scene is quite thin in terms of numbers. Very many works of art have been destroyed or perished in wars and difficult times. A large percentage of remaining works are exhibited by national museums. Therefore, building up



a distinguished collection is something which takes time. It would be easy to go to an action, buy 40 pieces of art and call it a collection. It has taken me two decades to build up my collection. You need time, patience, determination and no tolerance for mediocrity. Every work in my collection has arrived there after thorough research and sometimes consultations. I have to consider not only whether I like the piece, but increasingly whether and how the new painting adds some new shades to my existing collection. A work of art may be excellent and show the painter in a good light, but not add anything new in the context of the collection.

What would you recommend to someone who wis interested in buying Estonian art? Buy one painting. I consider it to be a unique characteristic of Estonian art that each painting is a small collection. The mainstream of Estonian art between 1900-1945 was very diverse, but also so harmonious that one great colour-centred painting may contain the entire period. But more specifically, I would of course recommend Konrad Mägi. He was our most famous artist and he is by far my favourite. His works sell for around 65,000 euros. If you are lucky enough to find a painting by Konrad Mägi, by all means buy it, even sight unseen. Well, before you buy you could call me, because perhaps that painting is still missing from my collection...

Facts: * * * * * *

147 participating countries so far 6.5 billion people represented, comprising 93% of the world’s population. 56 self-built pavilions; currently organisers have contracts with 46 Opening times: 9am-11pm every day of the week. Ticket price: average price 22€ Prices differ depending on the time and method of purchase Selection of mascot currently ongoing.

More information: FB: Expo Milano 2015 Eesti esindus

EXPO Milan 2015: Gallery Of Estonia – Nests And Swings By Andres Kask / EXPO 2015 Vice Commissioner of the Estonian Pavilion

Where was your company when the revolution started? This is how EXPO Milan 2015 advertises itself on its homepage. Is there really a revolution under way? In addition to targeting regular visitors, the organisers aim to attract the attention of entrepreneurs, inviting them to use the world exhibition as a chance to promote their business activities. In other words, if you are not up to date with what’s happening in the world, you will be hopelessly left behind. EXPO is certainly one of the largest international communication events, a place where countries can provide competitors and partners with

information on what is important to them in their particular phases of development and demonstrate where they have an edge over others. The organisers of EXPO believe that this event is a unique opportunity to share the best international practices. This can be done through the theme of EXPO, which this time is food and world sustainability (with the slogan “Feeding the planet energy for life”), but also through the people who will gather in Milan from all over the world. In addition to sharing customs, the exhibition is a great opportunity to participate in them. EXPO - the biggest country branding project

Since the very first EXPO, which took place in 1851 in London, the world exhibition has been the main event where countries showcase their best scientists, inventors and the most talented creations based on innovation and inspiration. Over time, EXPO has also become a place to demonstrate outstanding achievements in culture, education and science which focus on larger global social processes, such as the feeding of humankind at this EXPO. In collaboration with participating countries, the organisers seek answers to the question: How can we feed the rapidly growing world population of seven billion and guarantee good quality of life?”




I CULTURE Estonia at EXPOs

World exhibition in Milan

The first World Exhibition took place in 1851, in London.

EXPO 2015 will take place in Italy, in the Lombardy region, in a suburb of Milan where a special exhibition territory has been designed. Open from the beginning of May until the end of October, approximately 20 million visitors are expected to see the exhibition on site and another one billion via the Internet. The organisers are creating a “smart city”, which offers all kinds of services and is accessible digitally: this means being able to use those services from the point of arrival at Milan Airport to downloading the photos taken at EXPO after returning home. Theoretically it is possible to visit EXPO via your smart phone or credit card. You can also dig up some clean clothes and show up, although the clothes can of course also be purchased at the numerous boutiques of the fashion capital.

In 1862, when another World Exhibition took place in London, Estonian newspapers announced that a glass jar of Tallinn anchovies (Tallinna kilud), distilled liquor and other drinks, vinegar and grain samples were on their way to England. The Estonian blue-black-and-white flag was first seen in the World Exhibition in Brussels in 1935. The country brought out its own exposition in 1937 in Paris, in the exhibition titled ‘The Art and Technology of Modern Life’. During the years of the Soviet occupation, Estonia was a part of the Soviet Union pavilion, showing items ranging from textiles to an electric organ.

What is EXPO? Countries representing more than 95% of the world’s population will come to Milan with their exhibits. To date, there are 147 participating countries, of whom 67 will create their own pavilions and the rest will participate in shared pavilions. Representatives from almost every country will gather on one million square metres; it is like a mini model of the world, focusing on one topic and on the achievements of different countries in that

Estonia had its own pavilion again in Hanover in 2000, when it attracted attention with a building which had spruce trees growing on its swaying roof, but the trees reminded many people of carrots instead. During a five-month-period, 2.7 million people visited the Estonian pavilion in Hanover. In terms of the number of visitors, the Estonian pavilion was among the top ten pavilions of the 173 countries. Although the Time magazine called the Estonian pavilion the silliest of the exhibition, world architectural magazines were more forthcoming with praise for Estonia: Architecture (USA) and Architectural Review (UK) published a full-page photo of the Estonian pavilion and called Estonia and Lithuania the biggest surprises at EXPO. De Architect (Netherlands) compiled a ranking of EXPO pavilions, based on interviews with professionals, and the Estonian ‘carrot field’ came in 11th.



field. This time the focus will be on nutrition and energy, which we need to stay alive.

What does EXPO give us? The goal of the Estonian exposition is to attract the interest of significant target groups for Estonia and to win media coverage in the Italian and international media. Estonia’s participation in EXPO provides us with the opportunity to present our country. It comes as no big news that Estonia needs to be introduced to the world, but not many opportunities exist to do so. Often this requires significant financial input to advertise your country, or you need a more powerful economic or territorial dimension (G8, G20 etc.), which Estonia lacks. Just like the Olympics, EXPO has no preconditions. It is up to the country to decide how to participate. Like the other Baltic states, Estonia will create its own pavilion. The implementation of the project is being organised by Enterprise Estonia. The Estonian exhibition area - 1,010 square metres - has been booked between two colourful countries, Russia and Oman. It is a good location, close to the eastern entrance of EXPO. The world exhibition has a separate day to introduce each participating country, with thematic meetings, exhibitions and other events. It is also possible to make business contacts, and hold conferences and cultural events at EXPO.

The main theme of EXPO 2010, held in Shanghai, was “Better City, Better Life”. The pavilion introduced Estonia as an innovative IT country. It focused on sustainable thinking and the need for cross-border cooperation,

and it stood for the freedom to think outside the frame and to include everyone in developing solutions. The facade of the pavilion was covered in colourful Estonian ethnic patterns, which made it stand out from its neighbouring buildings. The emphasis inside was on 33 different coloured attractive piggy banks, a metre in height, which had an opening through which people could insert their wishes and ideas how to make the world a better place.

Estonian Thing”, made up of the best Estonian products and installations. Each nest box will focus on one product, person or idea: the motorcycle Renard, Skype, the Estonia piano, Arvo Pärt etc.

The idea behind Gallery of Estonia The Estonian pavilion is called “Gallery of ___Estonia”. The name symbolises the nature of the pavilion and more broadly the idea that Estonia is a dynamic and smart small country, whose destiny is shaped by the initiative of each citizen, as well as every foreign investment, international collaboration and foreign visitor. Gallery of ___ Estonia is an open platform for creative Estonian people, who will fill the space with life and content. The architecture of the pavilion has been designed to provide the best possible conditions for the organisation of different shows, exhibitions, activities and presentations. The philosophy of the pavilion is based on democratic, Nordic values, respecting each individual’s right to self-expression and creativity. Moreover, the pavilion will be a model of a dynamic, democratic small country: everyone going about their daily business with the opportunity to shape their own destinies. It is a joint creation which can be supplemented with new ideas and modern applications. The final character of the pavilion will be worked out with Estonian partners, but also with all the visitors, who will receive the experience of Estonia through the joint forces of nature, technology, culture and cuisine. The open platform also indicates a broader transparency and a flexible business environment which favours new initiatives, and responsible connectedness to global processes. In fact this idea underpins every activity and initiative which we as Estonians are proud of and which we want to showcase in the changing thematic expositions on the first floor of the pavilion: there will be a separate exhibition space meant for the presentation of unique Estonian inventions, innovative companies, information society solutions, sustainable rural enterprise, land tourism, creative economies and fine arts. All themes and stories presented and told will be interlinked with the general

theme of the pavilion, which will present Estonia as a country where nature, creativity and innovation go hand in hand. The visitors to the pavilion will be free to create their own personal experience of Estonia by choosing which activities, facts and stories they weave together. Most importantly, the pavilion will be memorable because of its warm, open and hospitable atmosphere, combined with exciting facts, moving stories, rare nature sounds, elegant simplicity of technology, tasty bites and good music.

The space concept The pavilion will be created from wooden modules or “nest boxes” stacked on top of each other like building blocks. These will form a gallery, bordering on the Russian pavilion and the walking path in the interior quarter. Between the modules, there will be swings to provide visitors with the opportunity to take a break. Thus the pavilion and visitors will form a rhythmically moving joint installation. The general space with a lot of greenery on the ground floor will create a fresh and flexible open area, making it possible to hold different events. This area will be bordered by rhythmically interchanging swing nests and nest boxes with LED screens. An open kitchen will dominate the space, serving as a tempting bar with a display of various herbs and four selling sites. Prominent Estonian chefs will work in the open kitchen, preparing fresh and tasty food. The first floor will be dedicated to content. The central space will be taken up by a bar with a rye theme and a relaxation area with hammocks, supplemented by standing tables where people can eat, drink and converse. The spatial logic of the ground floor will continue here, as exhibition spaces interchange with private swing nests. The first floor will also house the permanent exhibition ”Good

The more private roof terrace of the second floor will be open to everyone and will be bordered by conference rooms for invited guests and a room of Estonian design for pre-planned meetings. The voluptuous and wild seating area of the terrace is called “Music of the Estonian Forest”, and typical Estonian trees and plants will grow here. This area is designed for easy relaxation and for getting to know Estonian nature whilst listening to a soundtrack of the Estonian forest playing in the background.

The programme of the pavilion Estonia’s main objective at EXPO is to introduce Estonia and to offer visitors a diverse cultural and experiential sense of our country. Hospitality, dynamic nature, traditions, creativity, innovation and nature are the keywords which we would like visitors to take away with them. The flexible architectural solution of the pavilion will offer all Estonian organisations and fields of activity the opportunity to create the right environment for their specific event. In the longer term, the programme aims to increase export capacity and tourism and to present our innovative and technological solutions. One of the clear objectives of Estonia’s participation at the Milan EXPO is to create the best conditions for those companies and organisations with export potential to present their products and activities on location. For the first time in the history of Estonia’s participation in EXPO, a separate floor and infrastructure have been designed for thematic exhibitions and expositions, and the whole concept of the pavilion has been developed around the idea that Estonian people are the ones creating the programme content.

What will happen to the pavilion after EXPO? Once EXPO is finished, there are plans to take the pavilion back to Estonia and to use it there. In theory it is possible to disassemble the entire pavilion and to erect it again in the exact same form in Estonia. Once we finalise the usage of the pavilion on paper, we will be able to work on how to use it after EXPO. All ideas are welcome!




Photo by Annika Metsla


Kristjan Randalu A Talent Who Returned By Piret Järvis “The sea, clean air, bright colours, white summer nights, tomatoes and apples from my own garden,” Kristjan Randalu, the Estonian jazz pianist who was nominated for a Grammy award in 2006, lists the things he missed most about Estonia during his twenty years of living in Germany, England and the United States.



Kristjan Randalu Born on 27 August 1978 in Tallinn Education: * Stuttgart Higher Music School (1998–2003) * London Royal Music Academy (2001–2002) * Manhattan School of Music in NewYork (2004–2006) * Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles (2005 and 2006) Awards: * Laureate of the Piano Competition of Montreux Jazz Festival (2002) * Participation in the recording of “Elevation” which was nominated for two Grammys (2006) * Baden-Württemberg Jazz Award (2007) * Jazz Album of the Year at Estonian Annual Music Awards for the album “Kooskõla” together with Vaiko Eplik (2012)

A bit of abroad, a bit of the homeland The son of the pianists Kalle and Piret Randalu, Kristjan was just nine years old when he moved from Estonia, then part of the Soviet Union, to Germany with his parents and little sister Liisa in 1988. “I have good memories of regular gatherings when my parents got together with other musician friends,” Kristjan says, recalling his first decade in Soviet Estonia, where there was a shortage of imported goods and only the selected few could travel over the closed borders of the state. “Looking back, everything to do with trips abroad seems funny. My father travelled on a regular basis and our standard reply to the question of what to bring back from the trip was always ‘a bit of abroad’. I kept one glass Coca-Cola bottle like a bottle of champagne, in order to open it festively one day. One day they were selling yellow ice cream in a shop in Lasnamäe, a neighbourhood of Tallinn which was built to ease the severe housing shortage and where all of the buildings resembled each other. This delicacy immediately led to a queue forming. Nobody knew what it was supposed to taste like, but at least it was yellow, unlike the regular white ice cream, and it was packed straight into a plastic bag. I had a general feel for borders and being fenced in back then but as a child I did not have any contact with daily bureaucracy and therefore my memories of Soviet Estonia are still positive.” Kristjan adds that Estonian customs and traditions were always honoured in their new home in Karlsruhe, Germany. “There was never

a question of which language we should speak; this was of course a deliberate decision by my parents. At home we only spoke Estonian and this is what kept the connection to Estonia strong.” Until the moment when the pianist decided to become a vegetarian, home traditions were also supported by ordering Estonian blood sausages (a mixture of grain and blood in pork intestine) during Christmas, blood sausage and sauerkraut forming a traditional Estonian Christmas dish.

The advantage of being small Kristjan, who has worked with numerous masters of jazz, including Dhafer Youssef, Mark Guiliana and Nils-Petter Molvaer, and performed in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in New York, and in the Berlin Konzerthaus, claims that coming from a small country of 1.3 million inhabitants has been both an advantage and a disadvantage in his career. “As there are so few of us, there is always the exotic factor. One does not easily come across another Estonian working in the same field in the world. Especially in Germany, I have felt that coming from a different cultural background is a positive characteristic which is emphasised. The downside of coming from such a small country is that you do not find your own people around easily who can help and support you. I know that in my field big record labels check whether an artist is popular in his or her own home country: this provides them with a certain guarantee on the basis of which they can market a project more widely. But Estonia is so small that this factor is almost non-existent.”





Too European to feel at home in NYC Today Kristjan considers his real home to be Estonia, and he “officially” moved back here some years ago. Here he has his own base in Tallinn and a country home in south-western Estonia, in the midst of the forests of Viljandi county. Yet his road back home to his roots was a long one and, as part of his piano studies, Kristjan has toured half of the world. For five years, he studied at the Karlsruhe Music High School in Germany. Then he moved to England in order to study piano at the London Royal Music Academy. He has also studied at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, and in 2006 he graduated from the Henry Mancini Institute in Los Angeles. “After finishing my studies I stayed in New York for a couple of years. But I was too European to feel at home in the United States. I tried living in Berlin for a while but could not really see a reason to stay there. Over the years, I had also come to understand that a home was where Estonian was spoken. The Estonian environment is important and dear to me,” he sums up why after decades he decided to return to Estonia even though his parents are still living in Germany. The jazz musician who has spent years in the metropolises of the world has this to say about his countryside house in Viljandi county, where even mobile phone usage is limited: “It is a place for charging my batteries!”

Talents return “If I had not lived abroad, I would probably be one of the majority of people who curse the local standard of living and politics. When you see things from a distance, it helps you to sort out your own priorities and to make changes if necessary,” says Kristjan Randalu, in answer to the question of what would be different if his family had not left Soviet Estonia and he had received his education and life experiences here.



Currently one of the most burning social problems in Estonia is emigration. In the last five years, about 10% of the working age population has left the country. The fact that young talents like Kristjan are leaving gave birth to the social campaign “Talents come home” some years ago. In the framework of this campaign, attempts were made to tempt young people who had received their education abroad to return to Estonia. Kristjan was a good target, as he knows exactly what the advantages of small Estonia are: “All roads here are short: geographical distances and the distances to make your ideas come true.” He admits that Estonia, which became independent again 23 years ago, still has a long way to go to ensure a good standard of living. “Life in Estonia is full of contrasts; there are different realities existing in parallel. I see some serious problems and I see some unrealistic dreams about life in a welfare state. Of course there are always various interests in politics but for me it is difficult to understand those priorities. To be specific, since for years we have raised the problem of the declining population, why do we have child support which is ten times less than in Germany? As I travel on a regular basis to very different countries, I sense more and more what a farce global mobility by car is. There are massive traffic jams everywhere. One superficial advantage in Estonia is the fact that one can calculate travel time simply by kilometre, the only exception being rush hour in Tallinn,” Kristjan sums up on a positive note. In 2012, the family of Kristjan and his partner Epp was increased by the birth of their son Uku Armin. On the scale of “stay at home or go travel the world”, what does the father wish for his son? “I would definitely like him to live and study abroad. Speaking other languages and sensing and understanding different mentalities expand one’s world-view and benefit everyone.”

Indrek Laul –

The Estonian Piano Man By Silver Tambur / Estonian World / Photos by Meeli Küttim and private collection

In 1994, the then-26-year old Estonian pianist Indrek Laul, having freshly graduated with a master’s degree while continuing on his doctorate at the prestigious New York Juilliard School of Music, had a visionary moment. While looking for new opportunities and challenges, he came up with a vision few of his countrymen dared even think about at the time: to start making a new piano model and importing pianos made in and bearing the name of his homeland, Estonia, to the North American market. Now, twenty years later, the Estonia brand is a familiar name among American and Canadian piano lovers and buyers, and the demand is higher than the extremely quality-conscious factory’s current production.





From playing an Estonia to selling it around the world Indrek Laul was born into a well-known musical family in Estonia: his mother, Reet, is a concert pianist, and his father, Venno, is a conductor and the founder of the Estonian Boys’ Choir. Indrek was six years old when his parents bought their first Estonia piano and inspired their son to start playing it. Even at that tender age, the piano had a huge impact on him. “The awe and magnificence of the beautiful musical instrument in our home mesmerised me,” says Laul. The first piece he learned to play, when not distracted by tennis, was Chopin’s Etude No 1. By the time he was thirteen, he won 1st Prize and a special award for performing Rakhmaninov at an international competition for young pianists. Further musical education followed at the Tallinn Conservatory, under the pianist Kalle Randalu. It was at the turn of the 1980s-1990s, Estonia still officially occupied by the Soviet Union, when his life started to take on an international dimension. While participating in master classes in Ohrid, Yugoslavia, he met the Estonian piano professor Arbo Valdma. Convinced that he wanted to study under Valdma, he enrolled in the Belgrade Academy of Music, soon mastering the Serbian language in addition to improving his musical skills. It was Valdma who recommended that Laul continue honing his skills in New York. “He told me that I was the kind of guy who would make it in the US – and I absolutely had to go there,” Laul says appreciatively. Despite the Soviet-era limitations and the financial challenges, Laul’s



persistence paid off and he was accepted at the world-famous Juilliard School in New York. First working as a teacher’s assistant, he received the prestigious Horowitz Scholarship. Studying under the pianist Peter Serkin, Laul embraced the huge metropolis, but found time to engage with the local Estonian community as well, even playing organ for them once a month, an instrument that Laul also loves. While completing his doctorate in New York, word of an ailing Estonia piano maker reached him. Feeling confident about his abilities to break through in America, yet motivated by the urge to do something good for his birthplace, Laul sensed an opportunity: the chance to sell his beloved pianos in the massive US market. “Sometimes, we can do more for our country while living abroad,” says Laul in his suggestive, slow-speaking, intelligent manner, when commenting on the moment he found his call of pianist-becomes-pianomanufacturer. “Looking back, I was certainly motivated by a mission to do something for Estonia, and selling the type of piano on which I learned to play as a child was also a pleasant task emotionally.”

Piano making is knowledge of generations Piano making in Estonia is older than the country’s independence. It was an art practised in Estonia as early as the late 18th century. The craft flourished and, by the early 20th century, there were nearly 20 independent piano companies, all in a country which at the time had fewer than one million people. The most notable of these manufacturers was Ernst Hiis, an Estonian master craftsman trained at Steinway-Hamburg,

whose handmade piano from 1893 became the prototype of the Estonia piano. After World War II, private manufacturers ceased to exist in Soviet-occupied Estonia. But in an ironic twist of fate, the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin shut down smaller factories while allowing the production of Hiis-made pianos to continue. When Stalin turned 70, every Soviet republic was forced to present him with a gift. Estonia’s choice was a grand piano handmade by Hiis. Stalin liked the sound so much that he ordered the Estonia piano company to be the sole manufacturer of concert grand pianos for the entire Soviet Union. The Soviet-era Estonia piano had a massive market at its disposal but, when its old founding craftsman Ernst Hiis passed away, the old knowledge drifted away and, as with most things in the ailing Soviet empire, the quality of the pianos gradually declined.

The main concern was to improve the pianos step-by-step. First, he started to attend trade fairs in the US where pianos were sold. Tips from local piano dealers came in handy. Europe’s foremost piano experts were brought in and, in collaboration with the Estonian Academy of Sciences, the instruments were redesigned. The best materials were used. The mechanical innards of the piano are now made by Germany’s Renner, the world’s best maker of hammerheads, shanks and flanges; the soundboard is made of Swiss spruce. In a tech-savvy country, there was no escape from the computer either: in collaboration with the Estonian Institute of Cybernetics, the cast iron plate was analysed using a computer mode, and the resulting plate design improved the stability and balance of the piano. Over the years, hundreds upon hundreds of changes and improvements have been made to the Estonia piano.

“By 1994, production had fallen to 50 pianos a year, down from the Soviet-era peak of nearly 500, and the quality had also declined,” remembers Laul. He approached the company and offered to market its products in the US. Soon, he also started to invest in the factory, gradually becoming the owner.

Laul even engaged his parents: his mother started to test out every piano before it was sent to the US and his father ran the factory in Tallinn, while Indrek himself was busy looking for clients in America.

Failure was not an option for Laul, who brushes aside the question of whether he feared the challenge of selling an unknown brand in a massive market. “From the start, I set a big narrative. I knew that I wanted to make the Estonia piano great, but I didn’t want to cut corners: the emphasis was always on quality rather than quantity. Therefore, I expected it would be a long process and the changes were implemented slowly, to ensure the smooth running of the manufacturing process,” says Laul about the beginning of turning the company around.

Indrek Laul plays Arvo Pärt and Franz Liszt on the Estonia piano

Despite helpful foreign advice, Laul emphasises the importance of old expertise and experience in hand-making grand pianos in Estonia. “I’m extremely grateful to our craftsmen, who put great care into making Estonia pianos. For many, it’s knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation. Sometimes, in order to move forward, to improve, you have to look back,” Laul explains. The changes paid off. Upon entering the US market in the mid-nineties, Estonia pianos were among the lowest rated. Fast-forward twenty years, and they are among the highest rated. According to Larry Fine, the editor of , the quality of the Estonia piano is at the same general level as the New York Steinway, yet the Estonia costs much less, causing the large network of Estonia dealerships in the US and Canada to constantly demand more pianos from Laul.





The Estonia piano is not just another piano – it is the piano of the singing nation When reading the reviews of the Estonia piano, one cannot escape the descriptions of “the rich and lush singing sound”. According to Laul, the connection to the Estonian singing culture is very important in their company philosophy. Then there is also the idea that there is an organic, natural sound, not overly complicated, representing the Nordic country. “When I play it for our clients, I sometimes ask: ‘Do you hear the sound of the Nordic landscape here? The sound carries the feeling of the country’,” Laul says. Indrek Laul likes the personal touch and engagement with Estonia piano owners. When Laul attends Estonia owners’ meetings in the US – yes, there are now so many Estonia pianos in America that the owners have formed club-like get-togethers – he also usually says a word or two about the Estonian singing and music culture in relation to the pianos, thus doubling as a unique ambassador for the country. “The Estonia piano is an example of how a high value product can be successful and add value to Estonia, and at the same time represent the culture,“ he says.

Returning to the roots Indrek Laul lived away from Estonia for 24 years. Settling down in New York, his sons were born there and started to grow up as Americans. But when his boys were five and seven, Laul and his wife made the decision to return to the land of his ancestors. “One day we realised that it was time to move back to Estonia and let the children grow up in an Estonian language environment,” Laul says. “And it’s not just the language. I value the fact that my children are able to spend lots of time with their grandparents, who pass on the old traditions and knowledge: it’s about valuing the continuity of the identity,” he adds. Laul is not the first in his family to try his luck in the wider world, yet return to Estonia. One of his ancestors, Jüri Laul, came to the US in the early 19th century, earned money and then went back to build a house on the island of Saaremaa, naming his sons Jakob and Bruno:



Indrek Laul with his wife Triin and sons Jakob and Bruno.

the names Indrek Laul also chose for his own sons. The old family music traditions are being carried on: his wife set up a piano studio in Tallinn and both of his sons are learning piano. Laul himself now splits his time between Estonia and the US. Despite returning his base to Estonia, he thinks that whether one should return to one’s birthplace is up to the individual. “The Estonia piano is now one of the best-known Estonian brands in the US. Would that have been possible without me living in the US? The answer is probably no. The question Estonians abroad can ask is what can be done for their birth country while living elsewhere. Some people can just do more for Estonia while abroad,” Laul says philosophically. “At the same time, while I have moved back to Estonia, my connection to the US has not disappeared.” But while he is busy selling Estonia pianos around the world, the next target being China, where he has already got a foot in the door, he still has time for what his products help to represent: music culture. Indrek Laul was a small boy when he first took part in the Song Festival: his dad was one of the conductors there and Laul has vivid memories. Taking part in this year’s song festival is therefore natural for the Laul family – it’s all about continuity. And then there’s a new Estonia model 225 waiting to be played at home.

Estonian Song Celebration Time-line By Maris Hellrand

The Estonian Song Celebration (Laulupidu) is a unique event which every five years brings together a huge choir of 25,000 people for a weekend in July. More than 100,000 spectators enjoy the concerts and sing along to the most popular songs. The festivals have become the main anchor of Estonian identity. Twice the song celebrations have led to Estonia’s independence. In the 19th century, the choirs and song celebrations were at the core of the national awakening of Estonian peasants, who discovered the value of their own language and cultural heritage through singing. The national awakening and establishment of identity led to Estonian independence in 1918. After WW II, during the Soviet occupation, the song celebrations helped to keep the national identity alive. In 1988, several hundred thousand people gathered at the Song Festival Grounds and sang for freedom for many days and nights. The Singing Revolution ended the Soviet rule and led to Estonia’s independence once again in 1991. The Estonian Song Celebration 2014 is the twenty-sixth of its kind. The time-line below highlights the most important instances of this unique Estonian tradition.




I CULTURE 1869 – the first Estonian Song Celebration was held in Tartu with 878 male singers and brass musicians. All of the songs were in Estonian.

Lydia Koidula


The publisher Johann Voldemar Jannsen initiated the Song Celebration as part of the Estonian national awakening movement. Simple peasants discovered that their traditions could be part of high culture. Jannsen’s daughter Lydia Koidula, whose sobriquet means ‘Lydia of the Dawn’, was the author of lyrics for two Estonian songs, “Sind surmani” and “Mu isamaa on minu arm”, both of which are still in the repertoire today. She was also involved in the preparations of the scores and fund-raising: quite an unusual role for a woman at that time. Lydia Koidula, also referred to as Koidulaulik – ‘Singer of the Dawn’, was in fact so important that her face was put on the 100-Estonian kroon bill.

1880 1880 – the third festival was held in Tallinn for the first time. A year later, Finland arranged its first nation-wide song and music celebration.

1891 – at the fourth festival, mixed choirs participated for the first time. In spite of the efforts by the Russian czar to ensure the dominance of Russian language in public life, more than half of the songs were in Estonian, among them songs by Miina Härma, Estonia’s first female composer. Singers spontaneously joined in today´s Estonian anthem ”Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm” by Fredrik Pacius. In the years to come, choral singing remained the only cultural activity conducted in Estonian, as the Russian emperor required all official matters and education to be handled in Russian.



1894 – for the first time, choirs from Estonian settlements in Russia participated at the fifth festival in Tartu. The anthem by Pacius was sung again.

1896 – starting with this the sixth Laulupidu, the festivals have been held in Tallinn.

1923 – the eighth festival and the first one in independent Estonia, was held on a permanent stage in Tallinn which accommodated 12,000 singers. The first aerial photograph was taken and the first film of the celebration was shot. With the Song Celebration of 1923, the tradition of holding the festival every five years was started.



1910 – the festival was held in Tallinn with children’s choirs among the performers for the first time. Mihkel Lüdig, whose “Koit” (Dawn) is the current opening song, was the artistic director of the celebration, and offered a complicated repertoire.

Miina Härma 1928




1928 74



Building the new Son Festival Stage


ed by The new stage design rman the architect Karl Bu


1928 – the ninth festival was the first one held in today’s Song Festival Grounds in Tallinn: the new stage designed by the architect Karl Burman accommodated 15,000 singers.



1938 – in the eleventh Laulupidu, Gustav Ernesaks conducted the choirs for the first time, and his music was performed. In 1944, he wrote the music for “Mu isamaa on minu arm”, with the lyrics of Lydia Koidula, during his deportation to Russia. Five days later, the Soviet army bombed Tallinn and destroyed the Estonia opera house, national broadcasting centre and conservatory, among many other buildings. In 1944, more than 70,000 Estonians fled the country to the West, among them many well-known musicians. In 1946, the first large Estonian Song Festival was held in Germany; later they were held in Sweden, the USA, Canada, Australia and the UK.


Gustav Ernesaks

1947 – the twelfth and the first post-war song festival, with Gustav Ernesaks as one of the artistic directors. In spite of massive Soviet propaganda, the repertoire was mostly traditional. People were arrested even at the Song Festival Grounds. Ernesaks´ ”Mu isamaa on minu arm” was performed for the first time. In 1950, another wave of Soviet repression swept up the Song Celebration artistic directors Alfred Karindi, Riho Päts and Tuudur Vettik.


1933 – Female choirs participated for the first time; the first radio broadcast from the festival.


1950 – the darkest chapter in the Song Celebration history. In the thirteenth Laulupidu, Soviet propaganda songs dominated the repertoire; choirs of Soviet miners and the army choir were among the participants. During the dark era of Soviet oppression, choir singing remained one of the few areas where private initiative and trust were still present. This helped to keep the longing for freedom alive. In spite of the schizophrenic situation, most Estonians held the Song Celebration dear as the most important national event. 1933

1960 – by the fifteenth festival, the new Song Festival Stage, by the architect Alar Kotli had been built. Before the concert, “Mu isamaa on minu arm” was removed from the programme. However, choirs started to sing it spontaneously and, after a moment’s hesitation, Ernesaks climbed up to the conductor’s stand and started to conduct. Since then, the song has been the most anticipated and the “compulsory” finale of the celebration.



1969 – the first centennial of the song celebrations with the flame being lit for the first time in Tartu, the birthplace of the celebrations, and carried through Estonia to Tallinn. The repertoire of the seventeenth festival was a lot more traditional compared to the Soviet propaganda-filled celebrations before and after. ”Koit” (Dawn) by Mihkel Lüdig became the traditional opening song. In 1972, exiled Estonians organised the first ESTO, with a worldwide Estonian Song celebration as its focus, in Toronto, Canada. Estonian dissidents sent a letter to the United Nations demanding the restoration of independence. At the end of 1970s, the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, and many Estonians were drafted.





1980 – the nineteenth festival was part of the cultural programme of the Moscow Olympic Games, which were boycotted by most of the free world. The Soviet authorities increased pressure on dissidents, and the well-known Estonian musicians Arvo Pärt and Neeme Järvi emigrated to the West.


1985 1985 – the twentieth festival saw the participation of male, mixed, female, boys’ and Russian choirs, as well as brass orchestras, violin ensembles and choirs of Russian war veterans. Of the 82 songs on the programme, only 48 were written by Estonian composers. In 1988, Alo Mattiisen’s “Five Patriotic Songs” were performed at the Tartu Pop Music Days in May. The Singing Revolution started at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds in June. Thousands of people flocked to the spontaneous singing gatherings night after night; in the end, there were many hundred thousand people. In August 1989, two million people in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined hands in a 595 km human chain to protest against the Soviet occupation of their countries.



1990 – although formally still in the Soviet Union, the twenty-first Song Celebration was dominated by traditional symbols and repertoire. The concert finished with ”Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm”, the former and current Estonian anthem, which was banned by the Soviets. Estonia´s independence was restored a year later on 20 August 1991.


2004 – the statue of Gustav Ernesaks was unveiled at the Tallinn Song Festival Grounds. Due to heavy rain, the official procession was cancelled, but singers and dancers still spontaneously joined the march following the call of the maestro Eri Klas.


1994 – the first celebration after the restoration of independence. The festival celebrated its 125th anniversary. 1999 – young children’s choirs participated for the first time. President Lennart Meri was quoted as saying “Song celebration is not a matter of fashion. Song celebration is a matter of the heart.” Even though Estonia was independent now and the cultural identity was not threatened by foreign powers, people still considered the Song Celebration a matter of pride and joy which needed to live on. In 2003, the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian Song and Dance Celebrations were listed as UNESCO oral and intangible heritage.


In 2004, the American filmmakers Maureen and James Tusty started a documentary about Estonian song festivals and the Singing Revolution. On 1 December 2006, The Singing Revolution premiered at the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn, Estonia. The authors have said: “We had made the film for the rest of the world, but we could think of no better venue for our international premier. We were deeply touched by the fifteen-minute standing ovation the Estonian audience gave us. It is not just a story about Estonia–it’s also a story about humankind’s irrepressible drive for freedom and self-determination.”

2009 – “To Breathe As One”: beginning with this festival, besides music a message of values was established, with the first being the connection between generations. “Breathing as one” became a new idiom in the Estonian language. Singers started a wave of raised hands travelling from the top of the stage to the last row of the audience, resulting in an ecstatic melting together of the performers and audience.


2014 – “Touched by Time. The Time to Touch.” A recordbreaking number of participants - 42,000 singers, dancers and musicians – will fill three days of celebration with dance and music. The first concert of the Song Celebration, on 5 July, will take the audience on a musical journey through the history of the celebrations, from 1869 to today. The second concert, on 6 July, will present classical pieces along with new repertoire commissioned for this celebration in a seven-hour musical marathon.


Estonia In Brief Official name: Republic of Estonia State order: Parliamentary republic Area: 45,227 sq kilometres (17,500 sq miles) Population: 1,294,236 inhabitants: 67.9% Estonians, 25.6% Russians and 6.5% others Population density: 28.6 people per square kilometre. Over 70% reside in urban centres Capital: Tallinn with 427,894 inhabitants (as of 1 Sep 2013) Other major towns: Tartu (98,522), Narva (64,041), Pärnu (42,433), Kohtla-Järve (40,032) Administrative divisions: 15 counties (maakond), divided further into 226 local municipalities, incl 33 towns and 193 rural municipaliites (vald) Islands: 1521, the biggest being Saaremaa 2,671 sq km, Hiiumaa 989 sq km, and Muhu 198 sq km Biggest lakes: Lake Peipsi 3,555 sq km (1,529 belong to Estonia), Lake Võrtsjärv 271 sq km Longest rivers: the Võhandu River 162 km, the Pärnu River 144 km, and the Põltsamaa River 135 km Highest point: Suur Munamägi (Great Egg Hill) 318 m Air temperature: annual average +7ºC; March +6.3ºC; July +17.7ºC (2013) Official language: Estonian, a member of the Finno-Ugric group. Russian is widely spoken. Many Estonians speak English, German, and Finnish Alphabet: Latin Currency: euro (EUR) since 2011 Average salary: 949 EUR (as of 2013) Driving: Right hand side of the road. Speed limits in town 50 km/h, out of town 90 km/h. International driving licence required Weights and measures: Metric system Electricity: 220 volts, 50 Hz Country calling code: 372 Emergency number: 112 (free of charge) National flag: Blue-black-and-white National holiday: 24 February (Independence Day) National anthem: Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm (My fatherland, my joy and happiness) National flower: Cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) National bird: Chimney swallow (Hirundo rustica) Member of EU, NATO, OECD, WTO, and Schengen area





Practical Information For Visitors

San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela. The required travel document for entry is a valid passport. Citizens of countries not mentioned above require a visa to enter Estonia. Visitors arriving in Estonia with visa must have national passports valid at least 3 months after their planned departure from Estonia. Children aged 7 to 15 years must have their own passport when travelling to Estonia or, if they are registered in their parent’s passport, must have their photo next to the name. Children under 7 years need not have a photo if they are registered in their parents’ passports. Persons above 15 years must have a separate travel document with photo.

For more travel details, please consult the sources below: (Estonian Tourist Board), Tourist information centres are located in all larger towns.

For detailed information on visa requirements and entry rules, please consult the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website at

By ship: With over 6 million passengers annually, the Port of Tallinn is undoubtedly Estonia’s main gateway. Large passenger ferries arrive from and depart for Helsinki and Stockholm regularly. The 85-km Tallinn-Helsinki line is served by ferries that make the journey in 2 hours; hydrofoils and catamarans make the trip on 1.5 hours and operate between April to November-December, depending on weather conditions. Travellers should note that different ferry lines depart from different terminals and harbours. The City Port with its four terminals is a 10-15 minute walk from Tallinn Old Town; the Paldiski-Kapellskär line uses the Port of Paldiski, about 50 km from Tallinn. By car: Border checkpoints greet travellers entering or departing the country by way of the Estonian-Latvian border points at Ikla (the Tallinn-Riga highway) and Valga, as well as on the Estonian-Russian border at Narva (the Tallinn-St. Petersburg highway), Luhamaa, Koidula and Murati. On the Estonian-Russian border, all traffic is subject to border formalities both when entering and leaving Estonia.

The Tallinn Tourist Information Centre in the Old Town is located at 4 Kullassepa Street - no more than 10 steps from the Town Hall Square (ph.: + 372 645 7777, e-mail: turismiinfo@ The Tallinn Tourist Information Centre in Viru Keskus (ph: + 372 610 1557, 610 1558), open every day 9 am - 9 pm, is located in the centre of the city. A wide selection of maps, brochures and publications in several languages (largest selection in English) can be found at local bookstores and tourist information centres.

Visa As of 21 December 2007, Estonia is a part of the Schengen visa area. Nationals of EU and EEA member states are free to enter Estonia. The required travel document for entry is a national ID card or passport. Nationals of the following countries do not need visa to enter Estonia, and can stay for up to 90 days in any 6-month period: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Macao, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay,



Arrival By plane: Recently renovated, the Tallinn Lennart Meri Airport, just 3 km from the city centre, is welcoming, modern and user-friendly. Among other amenities, travellers have access to a free WiFi area in the transit zone. The airport’s 24-hour customer service telephone is +372 6058 888. Tartu Airport is situated at Ülenurme, near Tartu. Flights from Tartu to Helsinki depart six times a week. Regional airports are located in Kuressaare (Saaremaa), Kärdla (Hiiumaa), and Pärnu; these provide no regular international connections.

By bus: Not only is travel by bus the fastest and most convenient mode of international public transportation in the Baltic states, it also offers excellent value for your money. Lux Express ( offers regular connections to all major cities in the Baltic countries and to St. Petersburg. Prices start from €20.00. Lux Express is operating also within Estonia on the following routes: Tallinn – Tartu, Tallinn – Pärnu and Tallinn – Narva. A useful tip: Regular passenger buses have priority at the border checkpoints, so travel is smooth. By train: There is only one international overnight train to Moscow.

Customs and ticket information is available at telephone +372 6800 900.

We suggest travellers consult with the Estonian Customs Board help desk (ph.: +372 880 0814 or for details. The limit on import of alcoholic beverages from outside the EU is one litre for beverages over 22% alcohol content, and two litres for beverages up to 22%, and four litres for wine. Import of tobacco and tobacco products from non-EU countries is limited to 40 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 50 g of tobacco products. Counterfeit goods, including pirated CDs, video and audio tapes, are prohibited by law. A special export permit is required for specimens of plants and animals of endangered species, protected species and hunting trophies (please contact the Nature Conservation Department, Ministry of the Environment for details). Articles of cultural value produced in Estonia more than 50 years ago also require special permits (please contact the National Heritage Board).

Travelling by car Travellers hoping to see more of the country and the rural areas it would be best advised to travel by car. The roads are quite good and traffic is light. Crossing Estonia from north to south or west to east by car takes approximately three to four hours. All major car rental agencies have offices in Tallinn. It is also possible to rent the car in Estonia and drop it off at a rental agency in Latvia or Lithuania, or vice versa. The speed limit in rural areas is 90 km/h and in cities 50 km/h. In some areas the highway speed limit is increased during the summer months. Headlights and seatbelts (front and back) must be on at all times. Driving under the influence of alcohol or other intoxicating substances is punishable by law.

Free public transport: As of 2013, all residents of Tallinn, students and passengers 65 years and over are entitled to free travel on Tallinn public transport. Tickets for visitors: The Public Transport Card Ühiskaart may be purchased for the price of €2. This smart card, onto which you can load money, or e-tickets can be purchased from post offices and online at Personalise the card for  €1 at the point of sale or for free at

If you are using pay-as-you-go credit, your smart card automatically calculates the cheapest fare within the next 24 hrs (never more than one-day travel card). Validate your journey with Ühiskaart immediately after entering the public transport vehicle. You can also buy tickets from kiosks and from the driver (single ticket €1.60 and student ticket €0.80). Try to have precise change (cash only) for the driver. The ticket is valid for one journey only in that specific vehicle. Discounts only for ISIC Scholar and Student Card holders. Holders of a validated TallinnCard are entitled to a free ride.

Local Transport Getting Around Estonia Inter-city public transportation Public buses are the easiest, cheapest and most convenient solution for visiting Tartu, Pärnu or any other of the larger towns. Buses from Tallinn to Tartu depart every 15-30 minutes, to Pärnu every hour. On weekdays, seats to these destinations are almost always available even immediately before departure (watch out for special events). For weekend travel or trips to more remote locations with fewer connections, it is advisable to buy tickets in advance. The Tallinn Bus Terminal is located at Lastekodu 46. The timetable is also available online at

Taxis: Taxis must clearly display their fares, driver’s taxi service licenses, and a meter. The initial charge for entering a cab ranges from 2 to 3.5 euros. Different taxi companies have different rates, but the average charge per kilometre is 0.5 euros. There is no additional charge for ordering the taxi by phone, and it usually takes the cab just five to ten minutes to arrive. All taxi drivers must give you a receipt (in Estonian, ask for “Kviitung, palun”). Locals usually give the exact fare and no tip. As in most major cities, some dishonest drivers attempt to overcharge unsuspecting passengers. If in doubt, note the taxi company and license plate number. Public transportation: Tallinn has a public transport network of buses, trams and trolley-buses. Other Estonian towns have buses. Check the time schedule for Tallinn bus lines for any bus stop at

Accommodations All major hotels in Tallinn have been newly built or completely renovation in recent years. Despite annual additions to the number of hotels and rooms, it can nonetheless be difficult to find a hotel room on short notice (particularly over the week-end). For the best selection, we urge visitors to Tallinn and the rest of Estonia to book hotel rooms in advance. For more details, see the Estonian Tourist Board website at





Money On 1 Jan 2011, Estonia adopted euro as its currency thus replacing the Estonian kroon which had been the only valid currency in Estonia since 1992. Most larger hotels, stores and restaurants accept Visa, MasterCard, Eurocard, Diner’s Club and American Express. However, it is advisable to carry some cash with you. Traveller’s checks can be exchanged in most banks but are less likely to be accepted in shops. Eurocheque is the most widely accepted traveller’s check, but American Express and Thomas Cook are also accepted. Banks are plentiful and easy to find in Tallinn. Most are open from 9:00 to 18:00 on weekdays, while some offices are also open on Saturday mornings. All banks offer currency exchange services. Exchange offices can also be found in larger hotels, the airport, harbour, railroad station and major shopping centres. ATMs are conveniently located around town; instructions are in English, Russian and Estonian.

libraries and post offices. There are over 100 wireless free Internet zones around the country, many of them in rather unexpected places - beaches, Old Town squares, stadiums, and concert halls.

Emergencies 112 is the emergency number for ambulance, police and fire department. The police can also be reached directly at 110. Emergency numbers can be dialled free of charge. Select pharmacies are open 24-hours-a-day in many major towns. The one in Tallinn is located at 10 Pärnu Road (opposite the Estonian Drama Theatre); the one in Tartu is located in the Town Hall building (Town Hall Square).

National Holidays

Telephones and Internet The country code of Estonia is 372. Dial 00 for outbound international calls. The GSM mobile phone system is available; please check compatibility with your operator. Public Internet access points have been set up all over Estonia. They are located in local



Estonians celebrate January 1 as New Year’s Day, a rather slow and quiet day as people recover from the festivities. Shops open late and banks are closed. February 24, Independence Day, is celebrated with a parade of the Estonian Defence Forces at Vabaduse väljak (Freedom Square). May 1 is a bank holiday, similar to Good Friday and May Day. June 23 is the biggest holiday of the year as Estonians celebrate Midsummer Eve and the Victory Day in commemoration of the 1919 Battle of Võnnu, and June 24 is St. John’s Day (Midsummer). August 20 is the Day of Restoration of Independence (1991). December 24 (Christmas Eve), December 25 (Christmas Day) and December 26 (Boxing Day) are usually spent at home with families.

Food Traditional Estonian cuisine consists of simple peasant food, such as cottage cheese, potatoes and bread, all of which are still important components of the local diet. The Estonian dark bread is the main staple missed by Estonians abroad. Typical Estonian dishes do not feature prominently on restaurant menus, and traditional home cooking is more likely to appear at small eateries in remote areas. Still, a few establishments have made Estonian specialities their niche; to sample Estonian cuisine, try the Vanaema juures, Kaerajaan and Kolu Tavern (Open Air Museum) in Tallinn, and the highly recommended Muhu Kalakohvik and Lümanda söögimaja on the Island of Saaremaa. The list of the top 50 Estonian restaurants can be found at

19th-century kristallkümmel (caraway liqueur) has made its long-awaited comeback. Estonian wines, made from currants or other local berries, are rather sweet. Wine lovers

Even the most sceptical museum-goer is bound to find something intriguing in Estonia’s large selection of museums, which feature everything from history, art, photography to toys, chocolate, musical instruments, even wax fig-

Drinks The main drinks in Estonia are beer, wine and vodka. While many young city residents opt for beer or wine, the older generation and rural folk tend to prefer vodka. In the 1930s Estonian vodka made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the strongest vodka in the world (96º). Local brands of beer enjoy a very strong market position in Estonia. The two main breweries are Saku and A. Le Coq. Saku is Tallinn-based, and its corporate colour is navy blue while A.Le Coq is brewed in Tartu and its colour is red. There are also many smaller breweries. A full list of Estonian beers is posted at

usually prefer imported wine, of which there is an ever-increasing selection at stores and vinoteks. A very popular and refreshing nonalcoholic drink is kali, made of bread, malt, rye or oats flour and yeast; it has a characteristically dark brown colour. It was with this drink that the Estonians forced the Coca-Cola company into submission, or at least into a business deal. Kali was enjoying phenomenal sales, while Coke was not selling up to expectations. It was then that Coca-Cola decided to broaden its horizons by buying one of the local kali trademarks in order to make a profit on the stubborn Estonians.


Spirits also include some traditional liqueurs. The famous Vana Tallinn (Old Tallinn) has a 45º alcohol content, and is coincidentally made from 45 ingredients - the recipe is known only to a handful of people. Indeed, the legendary

The entertainment scene in Estonia is vibrant year-round, providing visitors and locals alike with a long list to choose from. Concerts, festivals theatre, street raves, DJ competitions – Estonia has it all. It is not by chance that both Tallinn and Tartu have their own opera and ballet theatre. Tickets are an excellent value for the money; concert tickets cost around 10 euros, and best seats at the opera are yours for about 25 euros. For more information on the concert schedule see; the programme for the national opera is posted at Tickets can be bought at the box offices or via ticket agencies located in all larger supermarkets, or via Internet, www. and

ures and many other topics. Most museums are closed on Tuesdays and many on Mondays as well. It is advisable to have cash on hand as many museums do not accept credit cards. Tallinn is also bustling well into the night with booming and blooming club scene. Clubs are usually open and packed with energised vibes from Thursday to Sunday, with Friday and Saturday drawing the liveliest of crowds. In addition to local and resident DJs, clubs frequently present guest performers from London, the US and other club hubs. For those looking for a more mellow night on the town, Tallinn’s street are brimming with pubs, vinoteks and bar-restaurants, many of which offer live music even on weekdays. Rather take in a movie? Films in cinemas are shown in the original language with subtitles.





Shops Souvenir shops in Tallinn and most other tourist locations are open seven days a week, 10:00-18:00 or 19:00. Big supermarkets and hypermarkets are open seven days a week from 9:00-21:00 or 10:00-22:00. Department stores close a few hours earlier on Sundays or, in smaller towns, may be closed on Sundays. Smaller food shops may have shorter opening hours. Some 24-hour shops can be found as well. Other shops usually open at 9:00 or 10:00 and close at 18:00 or 19:00; they often close early on Saturdays and are closed on Sundays. The majority of shops accept credit cards, with the exception of smaller stores and stores in rural areas.

sweaters and mittens with local ethnic patterns, linen sheets and tablecloths, crocheted shawls and veils, colourful woven rugs, handmade jewellery and glassware, baskets, and an array of wooden spoons and butterknives made from juniper. Fine and applied art for show and purchase is on display at art galleries around the country, featuring graphics, glass, ceramics, hand-painted silk scarves and leatherwork. Various herbal teas from wild plants are available at pharmacies. Local honey – pure or flavoured, e.g. ginger, is another delicious treat. In rural areas, you may find hand-milled flour. And those who keep coming back swear by the Estonian black rye bread. To bring home local spirits, popular choices include Vana Tallinn or kristallkümmel liqueur or local beer. And there is no place better than Estonia to buy Estonian music.

Crime Although common sense is advisable in all destinations, Estonia gives no particular reason to be excessively worried. Do not walk the unlit and abandoned areas alone at night. Do not leave bags or items of value in the car, as not to tempt car thieves or robbers. Pickpockets may operate at crowded tourist destinations in Tallinn, so make sure your wallet and documents are stored safely.

An English-Estonian dictionary is available online at

Estonians Estonians are typical Nordic people – they are reserved, not too talkative and speak rather monotonously, with very little intonation. All this may give one the impression of coldness bordering on rudeness. But rest assured, this is not the case, and the speaker may actually be extremely well-meaning, even excited. There are several well-known Estonian sayings, such as “Think first, then speak”, “Weigh everything carefully nine times before making a move”, and “Talking is silver, silence is gold”. It is, therefore, no wonder that the people are not very good at small talk, do not waste too much time on grand introductions, and usually come straight to the point. This is why Estonians’ English may sometimes sound shockingly direct. There is, however, often a subtle irony involved in Estonians’ utterances - delivered with a serious face and just the slightest twinkle of the eye.


Souvenirs Souvenir and shopping preferences vary hugely but there are certain souvenir gifts that have gladdened many a heart. Estonian handicraft comes in many forms. There are woollen



Estonian is not widely spoken in the world, so Estonians do not expect short-term visitors to master the local language. Still, local people are thrilled and pleased to hear a foreigner say “Tere!” (Hi!) or “Aitäh (Thank you) in Estonian. Knowledge of foreign languages is naturally a must for hotel staff and numerous other professions in the service sector. Many people are fluent in English, particularly the younger urban generation, and a great number of people also speak Finnish, due to Finnish TV, Finland’s close proximity to Estonia and the great number of Finnish tourists. German is less widely spoken in Estonia, although previous generations have often studied German, not English, at school. Russian-language use has dropped to a point where older people no longer speak the language well and the younger generation have already chosen other languages to learn at school. Studying French has become more popular over the last few years but the number of people who speak French is still quite small.

Estonians are relatively individualistic. There is a saying that five Estonians mean six parties. Even though people agree on the final objective, they insist on reaching it in their own ways. Estonians also value their privacy. In the old days, it was said that the neighbour’s house was close enough if you could see the smoke from the chimney. Modern, tight-packed urbanites flock to remote countryside on the weekends to enjoy more space and privacy. Even though guests at birthday parties and concerts are rather quiet and subdued in the onset, they warm up eventually and turn into a direct opposite of their day-character, as you are likely to see in Tallinn’s clubs.

ESTONIA – MAKING THE WORLD GO WOW Experience the creative efficiency of the Nordic nation with a twist

Profile for EAS, Enterprise Estonia

Life in Estonia. Summer 2014  

Global Estonians Special

Life in Estonia. Summer 2014  

Global Estonians Special