60 minute read

Made in Norway

MADE IN NORWAY Special  Theme:

Jewellery made in Norway with love and laughter

Colourful enamel jewellery, laughter and impeccable talent could explain why everyone from film producers to the Norwegian royals knows of Opro. After generations of experience, it’s safe to say that no one does it as they do.

June Rasch-Olsen sits in an old, small office, surrounded by paperwork and a busy phone. Like most other days at Opro, there is a lot to do. If you enter the door behind her, you’re taken back in time. Soaked in history and soul, the walls, work stations and tools are still firmly in the ‘70s.

“Sometimes, old is better,” Rasch-Olsen shrugs, smiling. “It’s just so charming. Whenever I come back from our short breaks in the summer, I’m hit by the smell of my childhood.”

In fact, Rasch-Olsen has spent almost every summer holiday since she was four in the workshop, and it has remained the same since her father, Ole Petter Rasch-Olsen, established it in 1976. Opro, which is named after its founder, is one of few remaining enamel-based jewellers in Norway and the country’s largest of its kind. Since the beginning, it has been a space of passion, talent and a love of beauty.

“My dad says he was bad at school and needed to do something with his hands, which is why he became a goldsmith,” Rasch-Olsen, who’s also a goldsmith, says. “I started helping him when I was 19, and I’ve been here since.”

Beauty to last generations Like sunsets, the calm sea and a high-quality photo of starry galaxies, the vibrant colours and lustre of enamel jewellery make it a sight for sore

eyes. As the producer of said jewellery, Rasch-Olsen explains that they want their art to last generations. “Sustainability is incredibly important to us,” she says. “We prioritise quality so that our jewellery can be passed down generations, which it often is.”

Rasch-Olsen excitedly explains that customers like to tell them about the jewellery they’ve passed down to children or grandchildren. Opro owes its loyal customers to the timelessness of the work. “We’re happy to have many regular, returning customers who genuinely care and enjoy our work, rather than waves of people who only buy it because it’s popular right now. I pride myself on the beautiful jewellery we make here.”

Locality is another important value for Rasch-Olsen and the Opro team. All the jewellery is handmade and produced in Norway, and they only work with workshops based in the country. “We also don’t sell anything from our workshop. There are a few things in the web shop, but nothing that you’d find in a jewellery shop. We mostly sell through goldsmiths all over the country, because we want Norwegian artisans to thrive.”

From castles to film productions Opro is a name most jewellery lovers know. Their clients include the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Norwegian Castle, but these are not Rasch-Olsen’s proudest achievements. On a warm spring day not long ago, the producers of the new version of Three Wishes for Cinderella, starring famous Norwegian pop star Astrid S, approached Opro.

“They brought the hazelnuts from the film and asked if we could make them into jewellery, which we did,” she says, grinning widely. “It wasn’t our usual enamel work, but it was still incredibly fun. We love working with big clients and being a part of such great projects.”

The demand for their beautiful enamel isn’t only restricted to Norway; Opro has also made a name for itself abroad. The work has been sold everywhere from New York to the renowned EPCOT centre in Florida, where it saw great success. Even since the executive decision to localise the business, international customers can access some of the unique jewellery in the web shop. Still, Rasch-Olsen recommends everyone to visit jewellery shops in Norway to help boost local business, too. Passion and laughter Despite the hectic days, Rasch-Olsen and the Opro team are truly passionate about their work. Though their area of focus is on the production of enamel jewellery, they find other, fun things to do as well. “We’ve repaired and restored old things, which was fun,” she says proudly. “We’ve also cracked the art of enamelled glass.”

Laughter, fun and music echo through the walls at the Opro workshop. According to Rasch-Olsen, enjoyment is an important part of the job. When asked if she intends to pass the torch on to her children, she shakes her head. “Only if they want to. I love what we do, but having fun in your job is important. I’ll only do this until I tire of it. That being said, I’ve been here since I was a child, and I don’t have any complaints yet.”

Web: www.emaljesmykker.no

Prioritising children’s comfort and style

Most people either have or know someone with sensitive skin. For new parents, it can be difficult to find clothes that both feel comfortable and look good. With Babymood, there’s no need to choose one or the other.

Anna Nishori was an accountant for almost 20 years, but after the birth of her youngest daughters in 2017 and 2018, she left her comfortable, stable job for a new adventure. Both of Anna’s girls were diagnosed with atopic skin, and she found that there were few skin-friendly clothing options for her babies. Thus, the mother of four decided to make some options herself, and in 2020, Babymood was born.

“I established Babymood at the beginning of the pandemic, which means that there have been challenges,” Anna says. “But I’m proud to say that we’ve been able to do incredibly well, both in Norway and internationally.”

Both quality and style Among Babymood’s main priorities are the quality and comfort of children. The use of certified organic cotton ensures that the clothes feel soft against the child’s sensitive skin. “Our designs are also unique in the way that they allow you to easily dress and undress the little ones without causing discomfort,” Anna explains.

When she was looking for clothes for her children, one of Anna’s main issues was that she couldn’t find skin-friendly clothes that also looked nice. Babymood’s collections consist of fun, childish and timeless designs, inspired by the outdoors. “We’re heavily inspired by nature, and we use a lot of earthy tones,” she says. “I’ve spent a lot of time making sure that the clothes look amazing.”

Among the brand’s most popular items are rompers, jumpsuits and bodysuits.

International demand Sensitive skin is not uncommon in young children, as they are naturally more prone to skin irritations than adults are. Parents all over the world need high-quality clothes for their sensitive babies, so it is perhaps no surprise that Babymood’s products have been in high demand. Since the brand’s inception in 2020, Babymood has had very few quiet days.

“We get orders from all over the world,” says Anna. “We’re especially excited about department stores everywhere from the US to Switzerland buying our products. We can’t wait to grow and expand even more.”

Web: www.babymood.no Facebook: babymood Instagram: @babymood_no

Bioform: Arctic, clean and healthy

The Arctic nature of Norway is not only a sight for sore eyes, but also serves as one of the cleanest sources of natural, medicinal treatment. With over 20 years of experience, Bioform has become one of Norway’s biggest health supplement producers.

Trond Solstrand has always had an interest in health and health products, and when he saw an advertisement for Bioform, he decided it was time to take a leap of faith. A safe and secure job in investment was left behind, and Solstrand started a brand-new adventure. Since then, he has handed knowledge down to his daughter, Cathrine, who has helped take Bioform to new heights.

As of today, their products can be found in the biggest health shops across Norway.

Clean, local production “We utilise northern Norwegian nature as a source of ingredients for our supplements, because our nature is cleaner and healthier than most places,” Cathrine Solstrand says.

Bioform sources most of its raw ingredients from local areas. The Bioform Chaga, a medicinal mushroom that has been used all across the world, is handpicked by locals. The omega-3 they produce comes from northern Norwegian fish.

“Local products, people and business are incredibly important to us. If it’s possible, we will always source our ingredients here,” Solstrand explains. “There’s nothing cleaner than using short-travelled, hand-picked and natural ingredients.”

Thriving in a time of defeat The pandemic has seen many people and businesses suffer its consequences, but Solstrand is proud that Bioform has not only survived, but excelled, in a time of great difficulties.

“We genuinely want to help and provide the best products to our customers, and they often give us good feedback on our service,” Solstrand says. “Bioform owes a lot of our success to our great, hard-working team, and making their work environment good is always a top priority of ours.”

Despite the company’s large growth over the last few years, Solstrand hopes to expand even more. “We’re doing pretty good for ourselves on both the Norwegian and international markets, so I cannot wait for the world to see the next thing we have in store,“ she hints with a smile.

Web: www.bioform.no Facebook: bioform.no Instagram: @bioform_as

NNNN: Innovative audio technology meets Nordic design

Nowadays, streaming platforms mean that access to endless music is only a simple tap away. Yet, headphones and plastic speakers are a far cry from the immersive experience of live music. In Norway, NNNN is bucking the trend by reviving the quality of the horn speaker, reinterpreting it for modern-day scenarios and designing speakers that enable music experiences very much out of the ordinary.

Audio quality is about more than just music. In the new technological world, most of us have come to rely on high-quality audio. The pandemic meant that millions of people saw their workspaces turn into home offices, with video conferences and phone calls being their main interaction with the outside world.

“Some might think that the video is the most important part of a video conference, but we all know that the conversation wouldn’t happen without audio,” says Torkel Mellingen, CEO and co-founder of NNNN. “Whether it is a music stage, a club, a bar or even your favourite restaurant, or an important corporate presentation, we develop technology that enables experiences.”

The journey NNNN blossomed from an idea that had no intention of becoming what it presently is. As Mellingen was about to leave his role as VP of Design at Cisco, a company developing video conferencing systems, he asked a colleague from the audio department for sound system recommendations for his living room. Rune Skramstad, CTO and co-founder of NNNN, after seeing a sketch of Mellingen’s living room, suggested a custom sound system. A few months of brainstorming and sketches later, Mellingen and Skramstad debuted their first piece of work together over some pizza and beer.

“Rune has been designing speakers since the young age of ten, which is incredibly impressive,” Mellingen praises his friend and co-worker. “He jumped at the opportunity to drag me down his little audio rabbit hole. Shortly after the first

beer, he asked me if we should make something we could sell.”

Soon, two became four. Co-founders Lars Eirik Mobæk and Lars Johan Hereid joined the club, and in 2019, NNNN was officially born. “The N stands for Norway, and there is one of them for each of the four of us,” Mellingen explains, chuckling. “But the best part is that the four Ns next to each other resemble soundwaves.”

Speakers that excel in every space NNNN seeks to produce sound systems with “crystal clear audio reproduction”. They also focus on versatility and flexibility, and unlike that first custom speaker Mellingen and Skramstad made, all NNNN speakers are designed to sound good in a variety of spaces and scenarios. “We use horn speakers and focus on applying acoustic principles to our designs,” says Mellingen. “Form follows function, after all.”

Most brands start small. NNNN, however, took on a challenge and began producing sound systems for the largest spaces. “Making speakers that seamlessly cooperate and reach up to thousands of people has been challenging, but a lot of fun,” says Mellingen. “Our equipment can be used for both large and small concerts, which is both financially beneficial and very practical.”

Throughout the pandemic, musicians all over the world were confined to smaller spaces. As a result, NNNN decided to develop their first studio speaker, which can also be used in other similarly smaller spaces, such as video conference rooms, bars and commercial spaces. “We value quality over anything else. We want all our speakers to reflect the art that musicians put their heart and soul into when they create their music.”

Sustainable solutions The brand focuses on long-lasting quality and timeless designs in order to ensure sustainability. People tend to reach for something better once they grow tired of something, which is why NNNN wants to make the best option out there. Without compromising on quality, the NNNN speakers are more energy-efficient and sustainable.

“When you produce physical products, it’s your responsibility to consider how they affect the planet – that you design for a circular economy,” Mellingen says. “We want our speakers to be the most sustainable solution.”

All of NNNN’s products are produced in Norway. Additionally, their designs ensure good sound quality without taking up as much space as traditional loudspeakers, thus reducing the number of vehicles needed for transportation to live events.

“We are constantly seeking more eco-friendly solutions. We are fortunate to have a network of Nordic suppliers that share our values, which has proven imperative in keeping track of sustainable solutions in production and manufacturing,” Mellingen adds. ”We’ve also noticed that others in the industry are starting to pick up on what we do and change their own ways. It’s fun to inspire and be part of a change.”

NNNN is Eco-Lighthouse certified – a widely used environmental certification scheme in Norway that is recognised by the EU as equivalent to EMAS and ISO 14001 in public procurement.

Web: nnnn.no

CEO Morgan Horori looking at seedlings.

Vertically grown super food

Sustainably growing enough healthy food is a global challenge, and new ways of thinking and methods of cultivating are crucial steps towards the future. Vertical farming is one of the solutions to growing plant-based foods quickly, with less water, space, energy and ecological impact.

Norwegian company Grønt fra laks is one of the companies developing this technology and method further. Where most vertical farmers use artificial fertiliser, Grønt fra Laks has chosen to tap into a neglected source of organic fertiliser: fish sludge – or, salmon faeces.

“Each year, one million tonnes of fish sludge is produced at Norwegian landbased fish farms,” says COO Marius Johansen. “But in Norway, the sludge is not being used for anything sustainable. Fish sludge from open fish farms goes back into the ocean, where it overfertilises the ocean floor. The sludge that ends up on land is shipped abroad to countries that do use it as fertiliser.”

Grønt fra laks has invented a brand-new method of utilising the sludge in vertical farming: a hybrid between hydroponics and aquaponics. Seedlings are planted on cellulose mats and rockwool cubes, and plants grow in water rather than the traditional soil. This allows for a stacking system where plants are grown in racks eight shelves high.

“A commercial 250-square-metre greenhouse will have a cultivation area of about 1,250 square metres,” Johansen says. “Since we stack our production, we have eight times the cultivation area.”

Nutritious water with fish sludge fertiliser is pumped through the system, constantly providing nutrients to the plants with very little water waste. This also allows for rapid growth in the plants. Sprouts, herbs and microgreens take between four and eight days from when the seeds are planted until they are delivered to customers. Larger greens, like lettuce, take approximately a month to grow. The rapid growth means that the nutritional value of the plants is higher than in traditionally grown greens, due to the nutrients in the seed not being consumed by the plants while growing.

Originally developed by NASA for use at space stations, hydroponics and aquaponics might prove to be key factors in solving world hunger and allowing sustainable farming in areas where traditional farming is challenging.

Located in the north of Norway, with its cold climate and long dark winters, Grønt fra laks benefits from this technology, providing healthy and sustainably grown greens to customers while driving the technology forward to benefit even more people.

Web: www.grontfralaks.no

Uncompromising enjoyment of sound

“Our mission is to create hearing protection that users enjoy wearing, and which provides real protection for the sense of hearing,” says Tom Trones, chief product officer at Minuendo.

The world can be a noisy place. Minuendo wants you to enjoy the sounds without damaging your hearing. Founded in 2018 by a team of four with experience in acoustics, hearing protection and product development, Minuendo creates solutions for professionals and consumers alike, ranging from musicians to construction workers.

The first Minuendo Lossless earplugs were designed with musicians and concert-goers in mind. “The number of professional musicians suffering from hearing loss and tinnitus is higher than in any other profession,” says Trones.

Forget the foamy little sticky things you get for free at concerts; Minuendo earplugs offer an experience that’s quite the opposite. “Our earplugs are designed for a great live listening experience – without compromising on safety. The technology allows the wearer to adjust the amount of sound on a scale from open to close, while keeping the sound quality natural and clear,” says Trones.

Thanks to patented membrane technology, Minuendo earplugs achieve a frequency response on par with custom-moulded musicians’ earplugs. All Minuendo creations are designed and manufactured in Norway and sold globally.

Not only for musicians and music lovers Now, Minuendo is expanding its repertoire with a new Smart Alert earplug. “We use much of the same approach and technology, aimed towards a new audience: the construction industry. Like musicians, industrial and construction workers are severely affected by hearing injuries,” says Trones.

Typically, in this industry, ear protectors tend to be worn on top of the helmet instead of directly on the head. Therefore, Minuendo has developed an innovative pair of earplugs featuring active noise monitoring that continuously checks the amount of noise that enters the ear. Accordingly, the plugs warn the wearer of harmful sound levels. Users receive daily text messages or emails with reports on their exposure. The messages also feature suggestions on how to decrease the exposure.

“A lot of people struggle to judge when noise becomes harmful. That’s why our earplugs will feature an objective warning system. They can be used while communicating, and wearers avoid feeling isolated in environments where it is important to be aware of your surroundings,” Trones says of their latest innovation, the Smart Alert earplugs.

Web: www.minuendo.com Instagram: @minuendosound

MSM Norge has developed liquid food supplements that are absorbed much more quickly than ordinary tablets or capsules.

New horizons for Norwegian food supplements

Food supplements have always been a difficult area to work within in Norway. Because of the need to safeguard consumers, the rules and regulations regarding what can be classified as supplements and what is considered medicine are very strict – and the same is true for how much of active ingredients producers are allowed to include in their goods.

Because regulations have traditionally been much stricter in Norway than in many other places, many consumers prefer to order their food supplements online rather than buying more expensive Norway-produced goods. That’s been the case despite online commerce being much less safe for consumers than the Norwegian home market.

Strict regulations had opposite effect “The effect of the Norwegian policy was often the opposite of what was intended,” reflects Monica Tomassen, one of the two people running MSM Norge. “Strict regulations are intended to guarantee the safety of consumers, but isn’t it less safe to order a product from abroad, which you don’t necessarily know that much about, than to buy a supplement you know is safe in a shop here in Norway?”

Fuelled by a desire to change Norwegian food supplement regulations, Tomassen and her husband Marius Blomstervik started MSM Norge in 2014. Both are experienced in the field of health food consultation and Blomstervik also has several years’ experience from the health food business.

In his previous positions, Blomstervik managed to change the classification of common food supplements such as goji berries, AFA-seaweed and American ginseng from medicine with stringent restrictions on sales, to food supplements that can be sold in health food shops.

Bureaucratic challenges Building on that experience, MSM Norge has, since 2014, been working both to change Norwegian regulations and to develop new products in order to offer Norwegian consumers a safer and better choice of food supplements. The result is a range of new food supplements

that were previously either not allowed in Norway or classified as medicine.

All MSM Norge’s products are suitable for vegans and are produced at a local factory in Drøbak, where the company is based. It’s not been easy for Tomassen and Blomstervik to get where they are today, however. Tomassen explains that working with Norwegian bureaucracy can be a real challenge. “It really takes time to bring about change. Sometimes our contacts in the administration don’t answer or they fail to respect their own time frames. Things really take time, and that can be very stressful and difficult for small companies like ours,” she stresses.

And yet, Tomassen and Blomstervik’s dedication has brought about results. Not only has the company contributed to raising the levels of vitamins D, C and B12 allowed in Norwegian supplements; they have also obtained a change in classification for a number of products that were previously labelled as medicine. These include MSM, a sulphur supplement; Maca, which is a Peruvian root often characterised as a superfood with strong vitalising effects; ashwagandha, an Indian plant with significant antistress features; and melatonin.

Liquid melatonin is paving the way for new products The latter two quickly became the young company’s best-selling products. In particular the melatonin filled an obvious need on the Norwegian market, not least because MSM Norge developed a liquid version.

“Liquid melatonin is absorbed much more quickly than capsules and tablets; it starts to have an effect after only ten minutes as the absorption happens directly in the mouth,” explains Tomassen. “Many people struggle with poor-quality sleep and stress, and we’ve received a lot of feedback from clients who say that our products are really helping them.”

Liquid melatonin has experienced exponential market growth since it was first launched in 2019, and as such it has strongly contributed to the company’s growth too, not least since many clients prefer the liquid version to the more traditional tablets. In 2020/21, MSM’s liquid melatonin was awarded Product of the Year by Norwegian healthcare shops, while MSM Norge was dubbed Vendor of the Year by the same chains.

Tomassen explains that she is proud of what they have achieved so far, not least because of the feedback from clients. “Our end goal is to help Norwegian consumers improve their health,” she says.

The success has given the entrepreneurial couple an appetite for more, in particular in terms of new liquid supplements. “We are planning to expand on our range of liquid food supplements in the future,” Tomassen concludes.

KSM66 is a supplement with Indian ashwagandha. MSM Norge supplies all major health food chains in Norway, in addition to running their own web shop.

Web: renmsm.no Facebook: MSM Norge Instagram: #renmsm

Maca is a highly energising Peruvian root.

Liquid supplements are absorbed much more quickly.

RenMSM, a sulphur supplement, was MSM Norge’s first product. Marius Blomstervik and Monica Tomassen. Liquid melatonin, MSM Norge’s bestseller.

Wooden bird. Photo: Hans Marius Mindrum

Promoting Sámi culture through interiors and design

‘Alva’ is Sámi for courage and vigour, both of which make up the foundation of a family-owned company based in Murgos/Mørsvikbotn in Nordland, Norway. With roots in the Sámi heritage, Alva wishes to spread both the indigenous culture and contemporary design.

Alva was formally established in 2014 by husband and wife Geir Anders Hætta Berg and Sissel Horndal, but has been a work in progress for almost a decade and a half. With backgrounds in woodwork, typography, design and illustration, the duo uses their creative abilities to promote their surrounding area and its culture. Alva produces and sells all sorts of Sámi-inspired utility items, from décor and coasters to interiors and lamps. “I’m from a Sámi area in Karasjok, and I currently live in a Sámi area in Nordland,” says Berg. “I’ve always wanted to make useful Sámi utility products.”

Currently, the Alva team is developing new lamps, a conscious decision for those who inhabit areas north of the Arctic Circle, where the nights are long and cold. “The light is very important this time of year, as it is an especially dark period of time,” explains Horndal. “We draw inspiration from the different

sources of light in nature: the northern lights, the starry night sky, the sun and the moon, and all the reflections from snow and ice. The contrast between light and darkness makes the winter light both precious and powerful.”

Promoting Sámi culture The Sámi people are a Northern European indigenous group of people. As of 2020, it was estimated that there are between 50,000 and 80,000 Sámi people living across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Out of the four countries, Norway has the highest indigenous population.

Both Berg and Horndal are passionate about Sámi culture. Berg has, in recent years, travelled around the country to lecture and teach school children practical aspects using a bow and arrow, which has always been utilised by the Sámi people. He has made the bow and arrow in a traditional way, and explains the importance of working with traditional woodworks and crafts alongside modern techniques.

Horndal, Alva’s head of design, is the author and illustrator of several Sámi-themed children’s books and has previously been nominated for the Nordic Council’s Prize for Children and Young People’s Literature. Her book, Máttarahka’s Journey, has been published in several languages and explores Sámi myths about Sámi divinity and human creation, starting with a trip around the sun. “The sun is central in Sámi culture. So, it may not come as a surprise that one of our most popular lamps is a symbol of the sun,” says Horndal.

Sun lamp. Photo: Hans Marius Mindrum Coasters. Photo: Sissel Horndal

Fox lamp. Photo: Geir Anders Hætta Berg

Through Alva and its products, the founders wish to promote Sámi culture, history and tradition. “Our products take inspiration from our forests, the mountains and the sea. At the very foundation of our work is our belonging and ties to Sámi heritage and culture,” says Berg. “We also take great pride in showing off our local area and community.”

Passion, locality and environment One of Alva’s goals as a company is to create a robust pillar that supports its local community. “I’m not only incredibly proud of what we’ve made, but also our ability to create more jobs in our community,” says Berg. “I look forward to hopefully creating even more.”

Alva’s utility items are designed by Berg and Horndal. In addition, the pair lead their talented team in the making and production of the items, all of which are produced locally with love. “All our products show off our local Norwegian surroundings and our Sámi heritage, and thus it only makes sense that we create them locally as well,” says Berg. Local production and recyclable materials are part of the Alva team’s attempts to reduce their carbon footprint.

Web: www.alva.no Facebook: alvaform Instagram: @alvaform

Antler coaster. Photo: Hans Marius Mindrum MáttaráhkkásJourney. Artwork: Sissel Horndal

Stall at a Sámi market. Photo: Inga Marianne Berg Henriksen

Rocking reindeer. Photo: Geir Anders Hætta Berg

Håskog: new organic skincare

A molecular biologist with a passion for distillation of essential oils, a Portuguese landscape architect who fell in love with Norwegian nature, and an old, abandoned farm with a long history of experimental farming. Combine these and you get Håskog –a new Norwegian company producing organic skincare products.

“For years, I dreamed of moving away from the city to distil essential oils,” explains Ina Hviding, who runs Håskog together with her husband, Gonçalo Liberato. Hviding says that she learned distillation on the Greek island of Crete and describes the process as “modern alchemy”.

The Covid-induced lockdown gave the couple the push they needed to put their plans into motion. They found the farm Håskog on the internet and instantly knew that the place in south-western Norway was their spot. The farm has a special history; one of the previous owners was passionate about trees and planted or tested more than 2,000 different plants on his terrain. After taking over, Hviding found several plants on the property that she could use in her products.

Håskog produces luxurious creams as well as shampoo and body oils. All products are certified Norwegian Made and are available on the internet and in selected local stores.“All of our products are so pure that, in theory, they can be eaten,” asserts Hviding. The link to food is not accidental. The growing interest in the use of locally grown plants in both medicine and beauty products is a continuation of a trend that started in the kitchen and made Scandinavian cooking, with its focus on local ingredients, world famous.

Besides expanding on her product range, Hviding is planning to hold workshops at Håskog for everyone interested in learning about distillation of oils and how to make better use of the magnificent nature that surrounds us. Stay tuned!

Web: www.haaskog.com Facebook: Håskog Instagram: @haaskog

Restaurant of the Month, Finland A true homage to Finland’s culinary traditions

Finnjävel offers diners a unique restaurant experience, diving into Finnish culture with its food as well as interior design. Located in the heart of Helsinki, the restaurant – which was awarded a Michelin star in 2021 – combines fine dining with traditional Finnish cuisine in an unprecedented way.

Finnjävel, literally translated as ‘Finnish devil’, is a pejorative term used in Sweden in the 1950s and ‘60s in reference to Finnish immigrants. “At that time, Finns mass-migrated to Sweden in search of a better future. As is so often the case, adapting to the new life was difficult. In the modern context, we at Finnjävel can now take the term as a compliment. For us, it is synonymous with ‘sisu’, a Finnish concept of the combination of stamina, perseverance and ambition, seasoned with a pinch of megalomania,” says Finnjävel Salonki’s restaurant manager, Otto Sovelius. Finnjävel was founded when chefs Henri Alén and Tommi Tuominen, both heavyweights on the Finnish culinary scene, realised that they knew embarrassingly little about the history of Finnish food. Originally, Finnjävel was meant to be a two-year project, after which the restaurant would close. By the time Finnjävel’s doors were due to shut in 2018, the restaurant had risen to a level of success that took even the owners by surprise. It had garnered a reputation as a muchloved restaurant among Finnish and international diners alike. “We thought it was a pity that it was all coming to an end. After some deliberation, we decided to stage a comeback, and Finnjävel opened again in 2019,” says Tuominen.

Finnish design, from floor to ceiling Finnjävel is located in Helsingin Taidehalli (Kunsthalle Helsinki), an art exhibition space and landmark building in the architecture style of the Nordic classicism of the 1920s. The restaurant’s décor –designed by the renowned Ateljé Sotamaa – has been carefully thought out to showcase and celebrate Finnish design and craftmanship. “Everything from the floor to the ceiling, down to the tiniest detail, such as the plates and cutlery, is Finnish design,” says Sovelius.

Finnjävel consists of two restaurants on the same premises: Sali and Salonki, a

fine-dining restaurant. Both restaurants use Finnish ingredients and traditional Finnish cooking methods, such as curing, smoking and fermenting. The food is largely based on meat, fish, vegetables, dairy and eggs, and the recipes used at the restaurants have been passed down through generations.

“Our dishes are based on the type of food that Finns would have eaten 100 years ago. We are inspired by Finnish home cooking and the brilliant inventiveness Finns showed when having to cook with limited ingredients,” says owner Timo Linnamäki.

A sophisticated dining experience Finnjävel Salonki (The Salon) was awarded a Michelin star in 2021, as well as a Service Award for the best restaurant service in the Nordics. The restaurant offers diners a refined and intimate setting for fine dining. The menu, offering either five- or eight-course dinners, takes and flour, and ‘tilliliha’, which is meat slowly simmered with vegetables and seasoned with dill, among other things.

“Many Finns usually have a strong reaction when they hear of these dishes. We have taken these old recipes and brought them into modern times – and hopefully we can help people revisit their memories in a new light,” Tuominen explains.

For international guests, Finnjävel offers an all-encompassing way to delve into Finnish culture. “We’re serving truly authentic Finnish food. This is as traditional as it gets. That, coupled with the unique setting and being surrounded with Finnish design, is the icing on the cake. It’s a must-visit when in Helsinki,” he concludes.

guests on a culinary journey through Finland’s centuries-old food culture. Giving an indication of the slight tongue-incheek style of the place, the wine packages, served alongside the restaurant’s wine list, are divided into ‘good wines’ and ‘better wines’. On the other side of Finnjävel is Sali (The Hall), which is the place to enjoy a more casual – but still elegant – lunch or dinner.

“We have dug deep into the past in order to create the future of Finnish cuisine. Finland’s location between Russia and Sweden has created quite a unique culinary culture, which differs from the other Nordic countries,” Linnamäki explains.

The restaurants serve very traditional Finnish dishes – familiar to most Finns through the kinds of meals often served at school. On the menu are some of the most commonly loved or hated school meals, like ‘läskisoosi’, a traditional stew made from pork belly, fried with onions

Web: www.finnjavel.fi Facebook: Finnjavel Instagram: @finnjavelhelsinki

Hotel of the Month, Denmark Tranquillity in luxurious surroundings

Located on the quiet northern coast of Bornholm, affectionately known as Denmark’s ‘Sunshine Island’, Stammershalle Badehotel offers tranquillity and gourmet food in an unrivalled location.

Between the towns of Gudhjem and Allinge, Stammershalle Badehotel stands on the edge of the Baltic Sea, and with a history of more than 100 years, the iconic yellow building has atmosphere and charm in spades. Guests return year after year for the expansive sea views and nature experiences around the hotel and on the island.

“The hotel is in a historical old building where guests can enjoy a special kind of calm and peace while taking in the unique views and surrounding nature,” says hotel director Susanne Vang Søgård, who moved to Bornholm last year and has since fallen in love with the popular island.

Former bear caves and a bathing pier The building has a past as the summer residence of a German merchant who later started flying tourists from Berlin to the island in the 1930s, while the Troll Forest at the back of the garden was once the site of a zoo housing lions, bears, monkeys and flamingos. Today, Søgård’s husband, Ulrich, offers guided visits in the area around the hotel, including the old caves, once home to the bears.

The sea, with views to the island of Christiansø in the distance, is a central part of any visit to Stammershalle. “The bathing pier is just 150 metres from the hotel, and taking a dip in the Baltic Sea is something all guests enjoy,” says Søgård.

Luxury accommodation and a culinary treat The main building houses 16 rooms, and under construction at the moment and due to open on 1 April is a wing with 14 luxury rooms. “The new rooms will all have their own terrace with beautiful views of the sea and the sun rising over Gudhjem, and will include all facilities to make the stay special,” says Søgård.

Guests at Stammershalle are in for a culinary treat, too. The restaurant serves a variety of menus, including tasting menus of four and seven courses, based around locally sourced ingredients that change with the seasons.

On Sundays, the popular Sunday bubble brunch is served with Champagne for a luxurious breakfast experience.

The 2022 season at Stammershalle Badehotel starts on 1 April, and the hotel will remain open until 2 January 2023. During Christmas and New Year, special all-inclusive packages will be available for those who wish to celebrate the festive season in a luxurious setting in Bornholm’s nature.

Web: www.stammershalle-badehotel.dk

Installation. Photo: Beinta á Torkilsheyggi

Guided tour. Photo: Beinta á Torkilsheyggi Museum exterior. Photo: Ingi Joensen

Museum of the Month, Faroe Islands Listasavn Føroya: Experience the essence of the Faroe Islands

This national gallery offers a unique opportunity to encounter the striking landscapes and seas, exquisite nature, and fascinating culture of the islands, as well as a current perspective on important global issues.

The museum in Torshavn is a top attraction for many visitors, housing art from the 1830s up to today, both more traditional landscapes and a variety of contemporary pieces. “At our museum, you get to experience different elements of the Faroe Islands, from east to west, north to south,” explains museum director Karina Lykke Grand.

This place gives an insight into many different layers of Faroese culture: its history, its breathtaking landscapes, soaring skies, the people and what they believe in. “It is a chance to get to know the islands, their land and their people through art,” Grand continues. The permanent exhibits share the best of art from the Faroe Islands, with one room dedicated solely to expressions of the landscapes and the sea.

Changing landscapes Faroese art often focuses on themes connected to nature and the land, with artists frequently using home-grown materials from wildlife found on and around the islands, such as sheep’s wool, in their work.

Alongside the permanent collection there are regularly changing exhibitions, which reflect the museum’s awareness of what is going on in the world right now. One exciting current exhibition focuses on the changes of the different landscapes of the islands, including interpretations of how industry is affecting nature and what the implications are of these changes taking place.

Letting art use its voice “A picture can sometimes say more than a thousand words,” says Grand. “And we try to use the voice of art to highlight important issues relevant to both the Faroe Islands and the world as a whole.”

The importance of social and ecological responsibility and engagement with the world is evident at Listasavn Føroya, which makes the museum so much more than a collection of artefacts, and an important place to visit. Not only will you have a wonderful experience of the culture and artistic heritage of the Faroe Islands, but through the art they exhibit, you get the chance to connect to bigger and broader issues that are current and pertinent to us all.

Web: art.fo Facebook: Listasavn Føroya Instagram: @listasavn_foroya

Museum of the Month, Denmark The David Collection

Left: The Collection of European 18th Century Art: 18/2021, Martinus Rørbye, The CaravanBridge atSmyrna, 1838. Middle: From the exhibition NielsNedergaard:Photographs from Cairo. Photo: Courtesy of Niels Nedergaard. Right: The Islamic Collection: 34/1981, A Prince with his Beloved. India, Amber or Jaipur; first half of 18th century.

In Copenhagen – the cradle of art and design in Scandinavia – one intriguing museum stands out amongst the rest.

The David Collection banks onto the picturesque King’s Gardens. Perhaps that’s why, though petite, its elegant halls assume the same regal air as the castle next door. Inside, exhibitions of European and Danish Early Modern Art present paintings, sculptures, furniture and silverware from the 18th through to the mid-20th centuries.

But The David Collection’s real mic-drop attraction is The Collection of Islamic Art: an exquisite 7th to mid-19th century cache, spanning from Spain to China, and from Uzbekistan to Yemen – unparalleled in Denmark. In tandem with these troves of classics, the museum hosts special photo exhibitions. “The special exhibitions offer a contemporary take on some of the same themes as the permanent collections,” explains one of the museum’s curators, Peter Wandel.

NielsNedergaard: PhotographsfromCairo This spring, to complement TheCollection ofIslamicArt, the museum will display a selection of photographs and paintings created and collected by the late Danish painter Niels Nedergaard, during his seven-year stay in Cairo. Niels Nedergaard: Photographs from Cairo depicts – via roll negatives and scattered slides and prints sent home to family and friends – the artist’s life in the Egyptian capital from 1979 to 1986. “This is the untold story behind a cult talent in Danish art,” says Wandel.

Ancient art to modern design Nedergaard’s primary medium was painting. He was prolific and his striking patterned designs – based on Islamic geometry and the neon palettes of Cairo’s nightlife – were alien treasures to the ‘80s Danish design scene. “It’s instantly recognisable as ‘80s Danish,” explains Wandel. “He borrowed from the architecture of an old city but used the flashy palette of pop culture.”

The patterns became hot commodities on the interiors and textiles markets. “You’ve likely already seen his work without knowing his name. It was everywhere – but it originated from a humble life in Cairo,” says Wandel.

A deep dive into the ‘80s zeitgeist In 1986, Nedergaard moved back to Copenhagen. He tragically died of AIDS the following year, at the height of his career. “He plays several cultural roles: he was a ‘post-hippy’ who travelled to seek inspiration; he contributed to the look of fashion in Denmark; and he was one of the first victims of this era-defining disease,” summarises Wandel.

So, Nedergaard not only tapped into the ‘80s zeitgeist but bridged Middle Eastern art and local Danish taste. Visitors to Photographs from Cairo have the rare opportunity to experience the same –seeing, through his perspective, the acclaimed permanent display of historic Islamic art. The special exhibition – curated by Johan Zimsen Kristiansen – will be accompanied by a catalogue on the artist’s life and work, edited by Wandel. Both Photographs from Cairo and the permanent collections are free to enter. That’s what’s unique at The David Collection: an intimate deep dive that ties together the classic and the contemporary, which larger institutions can’t mimic.

NielsNedergaard:Photographs from Cairo 11 March to 4 September Free admission

Address: Kronprinsessegade 30-32, 1306 København K Phone: +45 33 73 49 49 Web: www.davidmus.dk Facebook: DavidsSamling

Photo: Shutterstock

Education Profile of the Month, Norway Affordable training for an effective workforce

It’s a two-way thing: skilled and confident employees equal a happy employer. With the ever-increasing demands for a knowledgeable workforce, it has never been more important to have the right skills for the job any of us are assigned to carry out.

Hilde Halvorsen, partner at Din Kompetanse AS in Norway, knows exactly how to provide accessible education for both individuals and organisations. With training ranging from restaurant waiting to pedagogy, and from sales to leadership, Din Kompetanse has a course to suit the subject, and the budget, at the level needed to improve performance and production. From noticing a need to successfully providing a service With a background in psychology, and having added a master’s degree in leadership and pedagogy, Hilde worked in education for upwards of 25 years. During this time, she was concerned to notice a group within Norwegian society that was missing out on job opportunities because of a lack of qualifications. She wanted to make it possible for people on lower wages to upskill and feel valued within the workforce.

Together with her two sons, Martin Halvorsen, now educational leader at Din Kompetanse, and Andreas Halvorsen, a professional golfer, she set up Din Kompetanse in 2018. The aim was to specialise in certified courses for adults who had no qualifications. The training needed to be affordable and accessible and provide the absent qualifications for adults who wanted to develop practical skills directly applicable to their working environment.

By providing courses at a price that people could afford even on a low salary, the business saw impressive demand in the first year: over 250 people signed up, and since then the company has gone from strength to strength. In 2021, only two and a half years after setting up the company, they welcomed 600 participants – and with a 96 per cent pass rate, Hilde’s pride in her students and teachers is tangible.

Their values While making the numbers add up is important for any company, it isn’t Hilde and Martin’s main interest. The three main principles that drive this small and efficient company are: quick response time, inexpensive education and personable training.

Hilde’s teachers, all highly qualified in their subject areas, are specifically selected for their ability to engage with students on their level, while also supporting them at every stage of the training process, through to successfully completing the exam and achieving their desired certificate.

For Din Kompetanse, it is important to have teachers who build encouraging relationships with their students. “I want us to be known as the company where students feel cared for and walk away having gained skills, knowledge and confidence,” says Hilde.

Turning an obstacle into an opportunity Shortly after Din Kompetanse’s inception in 2018, the Covid-19 pandemic provided an obstacle that meant that faceto-face teaching was no longer possible. However, Hilde and Martin were quickly able to move their courses online in order to carry on providing quality education and training packages, retaining the affordability and making the courses easier to access from most places with an internet connection.

By doing so, they turned an obstacle into an opportunity to provide training to a wider audience. Developing their very own e-learning portal in collaboration with one of their trusted suppliers has also enabled them to tailor-make courses for companies with specific requirements.

The future of Din Kompetanse The next stage in development has already begun. Growing their portfolio of courses to include accredited Level 4 diploma courses, they are sticking closely to their values. And the courses are provided not only in Norwegian; Din Kompetanse now has the ability to deliver some of their courses in German and English too, with further languages coming on board as they grow.

Their plan for the future? With 12 teachers already recruited, they are hoping to find additional teachers with specific qualifications, people skills and a caring attitude towards their students. As Hilde puts it: “For such a young company, we have achieved a lot in a short time.” She knows that it’s important to take it one step at a time, making sure that everything is done within their principles of inclusivity and affordability.

Asked about their success, Hilde reflects: “I have been good at selecting the right people who have the skills that I don’t.” She appreciates her staff and, with her refreshing attitude to people management, goes on to add that “we all make mistakes sometimes. It’s human, and if anything goes wrong, we’ll fix it. Everyone is important; we are special because we are responsive and take our commitment to all our customers seriously.”

Web: www.dinkompetanse.no Facebook: DinKompetanseAS Instagram: @dinkompetanse

Martin Halvorsen. Hilde Halvorsen.

The historic ramparts, Fredericia.

Experience of the Month, Denmark Naturpark Lillebælt: Perfect synergy between nature and culture

We go to the countryside or the seaside on a quest for nature and adventures, or we visit a city to soak up its history and culture. Imagine, however, if you could do all of that at the same time – enjoy exciting experiences of wildlife and the sea, fresh air and plenty of culture, too. In Naturpark Lillebælt you can.

The largest of its kind in Denmark, this exceptional maritime nature park encompasses sea, fjord, coast and land areas. Naturpark Lillebælt is home to an abundance of flora and fauna, as well as historic cities, and is a collaboration between local communities in three municipalities and the experience and tourism industry, scientists, local volunteers and other stakeholders. Everyone contributes to the conservation of the marine and wildlife here, giving visitors a chance to immerse themselves in the area and actively participate in the efforts to sustain this beautiful part of Denmark. At one with nature “There is so much to explore here,” says Niels Ole Præstbro, executive secretary of Naturpark Lillebælt. “The biodiversity in the sea is unique, and the area has one of the world’s densest populations of porpoises,” he continues, passionately.

Whale safari is a popular experience, alongside bridgewalking, seaweed safari, kayaking and diving, and this is also a crucial breeding ground for a variety of birds and eagles. “What you learn when coming here is important,” says Verena Obertopp Knudsen, communications and development consultant at Naturpark Lillebælt. “We want to entertain and educate, making our visitors feel included in what we do.”

There is a real desire to encourage, to inspire and educate, and this is very much a destination for everyone – for families, couples, individuals, young and old alike – and a visit is about more than the experience of being at one with nature or immersing oneself in the area’s cultural history.

Cultural and historical attractions “There are fascinating connections between nature and history,” Præstbro explains. “You can link the history of Denmark to the landscape.” One of the features of Naturpark Lillebælt is the three towns in it, each with its own history to tell. In Fredericia, you’ll find

Fredericia Vold, historic ramparts built in the 17th century, now a much-loved green city park. In Kolding, you can visit the magnificent 750-year-old castle of Koldinghus and the modern museum of art and design, Trapholt. Middelfart is a cosy, traditional maritime town, offering a glimpse into the country’s seafaring past. One of the main attractions here is CLAY, the museum of ceramic art.

Slow Travel “There are many ways of exploring the nature park,” says Knudsen. “If you want a sea-based experience, you can kayak from place to place and spend the night in shelters or hotels.” ‘Slow Travel’ is a relatively new way of exploring the world, an increasingly popular way of travelling that chimes in with the essence of Naturpark Lillebælt. The focus is on places off the beaten track, using public transport (or indeed kayaking), and supporting local produce and businesses. A crucial aspect of Slow Travel is to give back, and this is a key factor in the cooperation between locals and tourists.

“There are many ways to get involved in what we do,” Knudsen says. “Of course, you can donate money,” Præstbro interjects, “but you can also be active in supporting sustainability,” he continues. There are organised rubbish collections in the nature park, a wealth of choices for eating and staying locally, and you can support the porpoises by either buying a porpoise teddy or going on a whale safari. Holidaying has never felt this good – you give something back in return for an unforgettable experience. Responsible tourism “Naturpark Lillebælt is for both locals and tourists,” says Knudsen, and it is evident that the efforts and support of the local communities are crucial for the nature park. “We can only save the seas and the nature if we work together,” Præstbro adds. And this is at the heart of the nature park, which is much more than its separate parts. Each city has its own rich history, and the sea and the land their own outstanding beauty, but it is through collaboration that this place becomes a truly unique way of experiencing Denmark and Danish culture.

Everything comes together to provide experiences of nature, the wonderful marine and wildlife, the local cuisine and the culture. In the process, locals and visitors alike support biodiversity and sustainability, which is crucial to the survival of the marine and wildlife, as well as tourism. This is responsible tourism at its best, and a nature park for everyone. Whether you’re hankering for sea-based activities, hiking, contemplation in or learning about nature, or delving into the history of a city, Naturpark Lillebælt has something for you and is well worth a visit.

Porpoise safari, Little Belt.

For more information about Naturpark Lillebælt, please see: Web: www.naturparklillebaelt.dk Facebook: naturparklillebaelt Instagram: @naturparklillebaelt

For suggestions of places to visit, things to do, where to stay or where to eat in the three municipalities, please visit: www.visitfredericia.com www.visit-kolding.com www.visitmiddelfart.com

Visitor centre and café at Skamlingsbanken, Kolding. Strib Lighthouse, Middelfart.

Stian and Hjørnesteinen at exhibition. Painting Hjørnesteinen. Photo: Stian Valebjørg

Design Studio of the Month, Norway Design at the intersection between art and function

A renovated family farm in Fyresdal, Norway, is home to design brand Valebjørg Design. Working within a wide range of art and design, Valebjørg Design aims to counterbalance the modern culture of fast, discardable fashion and design.

A family affair, Valebjørg Design consists of artists and brothers Andreas and Stian Valebjørg, as well as their dad, Jarl. Having started out in other professions, working as a carpenter and a 3D animator respectively, the brothers decided in 2013 to pursue their passion for arts and crafts and founded Valebjørg Design.

Andreas works as a craftsman building furniture, toys, sculptures and art installations. Stian is responsible for visualising and designing the items before they’re built. He is also a fine arts artist, making prints, drawings and oil paintings. Together, their blend of artistic vision and expressions, and a keen eye for detail and function, makes for one-of-akind items designed to last generations.

“Stian draws and realises the customers’ ideas, whereas my talent is bringing the drawings and sketches to life through building and construction,” says CEO Andreas Valebjørg. “We make a good team.”

Functional art that excites and inspires The brothers have spent years building experience and a portfolio, and the results of their collaboration speak for themselves. How about a handmade 1900s-style picnic suitcase made from oak and leather? Complete with porcelain tableware, crystal glasses and space for a wine bottle and food, each compartment is carefully designed and crafted. The leather details are hand-cut and stitched. Every exquisite detail is immaculately measured, crafted and executed. The suitcase is for sale but can also be rented to provide that added touch for a photoshoot or the perfect picnic.

Among the more decorative pieces are marionettes, parts of a dream of making a larger puppet theatre, as well as Valebjørg Design’s popular wooden Lego butlers. Crafted from 1947 English oak and ash trees and decorated with gold leaves, the handcrafted figurines are captured in various poses and situations. Some carry tea and scones, while others offer a bouquet of flowers or play cheekily with a slingshot.

Another Lego-style item is a lunchbox, handcrafted from wood and with an internal mechanism locking the lid in place when one of the knobs is turned. The lunchbox is not only a beautifully made piece of furniture, but also reminiscent of a time prior to the plastic era, when items were made from quality materials and built to withstand time and use.

The vast majority of Valebjørg Design’s work exists in the intersection between art and function. The line between the two is blurred and fluid, and intentionally so. “I’m very fond of art that can be useful,” says Andreas. “It’s always difficult explaining to people what we are and do. Stian is a fine arts and conceptual designer, whereas I’m a functional arts and crafts designer.”

High-quality items made to last The idea of long-lasting design is essential to the Valebjørg brothers. The current trend of fast, cheap and expendable fashion and design is not only unsustainable from a financial and ecological point of view. It also disregards the value of handicrafts, of putting time, thought and effort into the creative processes, and studying, perfecting and hon-

Picnic suitcase. Photo: Åsta Kristin Janøy

Andreas in stainless steel leaf sculpture Seljeblad.

ing skills developed and passed down through centuries of experience.

Rather than cheap materials, quick fixes and mass-production, the brothers want to focus their efforts on exclusivity, legacy and handcrafted quality. “We’d rather sell fewer items at a higher price and quality than mass produce cheaperquality items,” Andreas explains. “There’s no such thing as 3D printers or other shortcuts in our workshop. We find joy in the work itself, not in pressing buttons in an otherwise automated process.”

In addition to the toys and smaller items, Valebjørg Design also designs and constructs larger pieces of furniture. Tailored bookshelves, day lounges, cupboards and coffee tables are among the items they’ve built on commission. They’ve even constructed furniture for a church in the Norwegian town of Skien, and have also designed and constructed pieces of art displayed in various locations around Norway.

Their latest pieces can be found in a brand-new activity park in Fyresdal, Hamaren Aktivitetspark, and are designed to explore, intrigue and inspire. One is a bear made from 350 metres of ten-millimetre stainless steel wire, bent by hand with only simple tools. Inspired by The Jungle Book’s Baloo, the bear is hollow and meant for children to climb into. Inside, you’ll find a bench to sit on and an epoxy heart with colours, figurines and light, all intended to spark the imagination.

Another brand new sculpure is Seljeblad, a stainless-steel wire construction shaped like a leaf and noninvasively attached to a tree, making for a comfortable hammock-like place to rest and think.

And maybe, along the way, Valebjørg Design’s creative and imaginative work

Lego sculpture butler.

might help turn the tide of fast and disposable design in favour of a more sustainable, quality-based wave.

Valebjørg Design: Web: www.valebjorgdesign.no Facebook: valebjorgdesign Instagram: @valebjorgdesign.no and @stian_valebjorgdesign

Hamaren Aktivitetspark: Facebook: hamarenaktivitetspark

Horse marionette.

Left and middle: The paintings harmonise with their surroundings. Right: Margit Artimaa paints in her bright home art studio in a beautiful old wooden villa.

Artist of the Month, Finland Speaking through colours

Margit Artimaa is a Finnish artist and interior designer, who combines these skills with an abundant creativity for complex art projects, like the latest one for Boutique Hotel Lillan in Tampere, Finland. There, her paintings are part of the design in each individually decorated room, and together they make up a permanent collection that spreads throughout the hotel.

Art has always been a part of Artimaa’s life. She has been teaching art in primary schools for over 20 years, and it has been a great contributor in her life. “I teach students to observe their surroundings and the objects around them,” Artimaa explains. “I have also trained other art teachers, and teaching has always given me the opportunity to learn more.”

Besides teaching, Artimaa has always had her own business. She has, for example, made illustrations and designed logos for companies as well as her own postcard series. Lately, she has been concentrating on the paintings commissioned for private homes and public places, like in the project for the Boutique Hotel Lillan.

“For me, it’s not only about me and my art; it all starts from the client and their needs,” she explains. “When a client contacts me, I like to see the space the piece is intended for and see the materials, light and colours there.”

She finds it very important how the space communicates with the art, and what kind of feeling and energy the art brings to the place. “In abstract art, it’s the spectator who creates the final piece in their mind,” Artimaa reflects. “When the client has been able to give their input during the process, the outcome is often very successful.”

Interior elements and property advice One of Artimaa’s specialties is acoustic art, which acts as stylish interior elements and softens the soundscape at the same time. “The acoustic panels that I use are made to measure, and painting on them is very much like painting a watercolour; every stroke is final, and it is important that the panel stays breathable and light,” she explains. Several panels can be combined as an installation to achieve the best results for the space.

As a multi-talented entrepreneur, Artimaa always looks for new challenges. She has recently started to work as a real estate agent, also. “With my experience in interior design, I am happy to help clients in styling the property before listing it, and also to help the buyers choose art for their new home,” she explains.

“On the art front, my dream is to have my own exhibition in a wonderful location – a combination that will create the best aesthetic experience for the visitor,” Artimaa reveals. “Often, life takes us towards our dreams step by step, when we keep imagining what we want.”

Web: www.artimaa.com LinkedIn: Margit Artimaa Instagram: @margitartimaa

Hille’s work Hiding/Igotyour back.Curator and art communicator Luisa Figueira Aubert says of Hille: “She is a storyteller about the unredeemed, the imperfect and the unspoken.” The painting Everything.

Artist of the Month, Norway The art of visualising calm in the chaos

It was never a given that art would be the way of life for Norwegian visual artist Janne Løhre Hille.

After studying both language and marketing, the Oslo-based multi-artist worked as a counsellor and later within marketing. But as the corporate career spun, an urge to express herself creatively grew.

After having her first child, Hille started art school. Her family grew from one to two and then three children – and with every new addition to the family, the artist dream blossomed.

Now she spends every day in the studio being a full-time artist. “I have my atelier where I primarily work with abstract painting on canvas and wood panels. I also rent a spot at a ceramic workshop where I create clay sculptures. As I find it intriguing to vary my techniques, I have started to play with woodcuts as well,” says Hille. Hille focuses on compositions, variations in techniques and abstract shapes, organic textures and structures in her creations. As for the palette, she mainly sticks to the colder hues of the colour spectrum. Blue shades are more often than not prominent in her work.

Symbolism and subjective motifs As an initiative for the observer to make up their minds and open up to subjective feelings and opinions, Hille stays away from titling her works in great detail. “I deliberately try to be a bit vague so that the observer can view my pictures in their own experience, and not mine. That way, the art feels more open and makes for exciting and subjective motifs,” she says.

Symbolism is hidden within her work, and Hille does not want worldly descriptions to guide the viewer’s interpretation. “My

art is largely affected by human relations and experiences, but the viewer is free to interpret something else from their point of view. I find that exciting,” she says.

As a person, Hille sees herself as quite introverted. She needs a sense of calmness within – a characteristic she experiences reflected in her artworks. The need for calm is intervened by the noise and outer affection from the world, resulting in the various motifs Hille brings to life.

“I wish for the viewer to experience calmness in my motifs, while also reminding them of the uncertain momentums that surround us in life, be it themes such as climate, a pandemic or political tensions,” says Hille. The painting Planet strongly references monuments of uncertainty. “Existential questions occupy me, reflected in my motifs with the ocean, universe and human beings. I am concerned about mental health and have been inspired by that in some of my works.”

Credibility in layers When creating, Hille prefers to take time, and she tends to juggle several works at once. “My paintings often consist of infinite layers of colours in the base before I layer the surface. From a distance, the motifs might look quiet and harmonious. By looking closer, one can sense a well of colours in the base layers.”

Layers add life to the works and draw parallels to how we function as human beings, she says. “Not everything is how it seems at first glance. The pictures become more credible and exciting as one detects the details. Many of those who have purchased my work have commented on the fact that they constantly notice new elements of the motif.”

The handiwork and the process of creating are what drive Hille as an artist. She often works on voluminous surfaces that can withstand ravage. For equipment, she prefers to use a spatula or paintbrush. After adding a layer on top of another layer, she sands down the work to discover hidden gems within the layers underneath. Closeness to the family and nature Hille grew up in Stavanger, a coastal town in the south-western part of Norway. She often finds herself longing for the raw, open freshness of the west coast and the North Sea. Countless days spent by the sea have resulted in her extensive use of blue. “The colour blue symbolises stability and peace within. Especially the painting Running to the Sea refers to the longing for closeness to the sea,” she says.

In her current hometown, Oslo, Hille seeks inspiration on walks in the surrounding nature. She also finds the city crowds with unity and differences among the inhabitants equally fascinating, while simultaneously cherishing being able to retreat to her private studio and home.

“I am constantly inspired by my family and must admit that I get the most energy and calm around my flock. To combine motherhood with working as an artist gives me both flexibility, togetherness with the family and more room for reflection,” says Hille.

Silence.

Janne Løhre Hille.

Hille pictured at Edvard Munch’s atelier in Ekely where she worked for four months. “I liked it there and undoubtedly got inspired by Munch’s colour palette, which is evident in the pictures I painted that winter,” she says. Web: www.jlhille.no Instagram: @jannehille.art