01 Dec 2009, Posted by Elena Carantoña in Guests from Madrid, 0 Comments

Europe begins in the North

On the Atlantic coast of Europe there are at least two “Finisterre”, one in Spanish Galicia and the other in French Brittany. Two ends of the earth where sailors fell in love with the horizon and were given value to go and conquer it. But today there is another finis terrae which also defines our European character, one where land and sea are not abruptly separated, on the contrary, they are united seamlessly below a layer of ice which continues all the way to the remote Pole.

This is the image of the cold North for people of the South, somewhat intimidated before the prospect of nearing a world where night and day have another dimension. A fear which in children’s stories is conjured under the protection of the Snow Queen and the Keeper of the Forests.

And there we both were, having just landed in Helsinki invited by Helsinki Design Week, greeted by the smiling and welcoming Jenna Sutela and Timo Koro, partners in a digital design project which is as much fun as it is interesting, intelligent and subtle in a seeming naïveté. With them, in the elegant Café Aalto, we first experienced Finnish hospitality, we toured the city close up and received a guide to Helsinki design which not all tourists see.

This welcome set the standard for our stay. In four days we enjoyed the beauty of the coast, the magnificent shops, the delicious food, the bars made for hours of chatting and the friendliness and vitality of the people.

Our itinerary was so full and intense that I could not summarize the impact and admiration we felt at the contact with Helsinki design. Perhaps two places will serve to define the impression of solidity and anchorage in the city’s economy and culture: The factory and showroom of littala and the Design Factory on the Aalto University campus. A consolidated business which maintains its constant innovative spirit. And a project which attracts young talents with the enterprising impulse. Helsinki design creates the future. For Finland and for all of Europe.

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About the writer

Elena Carantoña Coordinator, Helsinki Madrid FinDesign Elena Carantoña
Elena Carantoña (coordinator of Helsinki Madrid FinDesifn) is an economist from Universidad de Oviedo, Spain, master in International Relations and European studies from IEHEI, Nice (France). Public officer in the regional administration of Asturias, she was Director of Finance and Human Resources at the Avilés City Council; Economics Advisor for the City Major of Gijón and Minister of Finance of the Regional Government of Asturias. Internationally she has performed as Liaison Officer for Spain at the Information and Press Office of NATO, as an expert at the European Community Economic and Social Committee, and in the European Commission in Brussels. Now in business sector in Madrid, she is culture project’s manager and an expert on social responsibility, gender equality and diversity. She has published her second book this summer and writes opinion columns and articles in many specialized newspapers.