Updating Past Styles: Estonian Architect Allan Strus

Design & Designers, Stunt Double, Thumbs Up

Estonian architect Allan Strus uses historical styles as springboard in his building designs. Filled with modern features like triple-glazed windows plus high-quality insulation and soundproofing, his houses nevertheless charmingly nod towards earlier styles like Jugend and Neoclassicism. Other contemporary features in his buildings include French balconies, underground parking structures or roof terraces.

HS Allan Strus Tallinn Vesivärava 40

Vesivärava 40, Tallinn, Estonia. Design by Allan Strus, photo by Marko Mumm; via Helsingin Sanomat.


The design ethos is described at Arkitehtibüroo Allan Strus website like this:

“We believe that built environment should enrich the environment surrounding us, harmonize with it, depart from local customs and traditions instead of shocking the observer. We also think that buildings should tell their users and watchers about their essence and birth as well as about their owners. We hold that buildings and entire built environment should be beautiful and elegant, not ostentatious and arrogant. We hold that harmony and beauty of buildings must be clearly understood also when we are gone, not only in the perspective of a short-time trend. We are convinced that buildings must be physically and visually solid and durable, that they must certainly last longer than for one human generation, because this is the only way to restate the consistency and transmission of man-made values from one preceding generation to the following. […]

“Therefore we depart from traditional and classical architecture and try to combine it with local customs, circumstances and specific requirements as well as with latest technology. We believe in consistency of traditions and vitality of classical values precisely because they are essentially not derived from trends but stem from technical, logical and aesthetic solutions-tectonics- formulated by centuries long experience of mankind and easily adjust to changing needs and demands of a specific period.“

Strus doesn’t only design apartment buildings, though. His private residences and vacation retreats follow the same design principles.

Allan Strus Pirita-Kose Tallinn Private Home

Arkitehtibüroo Allan Strus.

As Jugend is one of my favorite building styles, I love Strus’s work a lot. The proportions of his buildings are more pleasing than those of later styles like modernism or functionalism. (Some of them ping my Jane Austen radar, too; or at least remind me of what I associate with Regency period building styles.) I wish his approach were already more widely known, for the work is so very beautiful, balanced and harmonious.

More at the Arkitehtibüroo Allan Strus website or Facebook page. (I especially recommend FB for more amazing project photos!)

Found via Helsingin Sanomat (NB. Finnish only).

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Colors: Invoking Autumnal Nature

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Design & Designers, Inspiration

Marimekko’s latest home décor line, Sääpäiväkirja (Weather Diary), was inspired by Finnish nature in the fall: wind-blown trees, rustling reeds, glowing golden grasses, storm-soaked rocks and misty archipelago mornings. I grabbed my favorite dishware into one collage:

Marimekko Saapaivakirja Collage

Sääpäiväkirja pattern by Aino-Maija Metsola / Marimekko; collage by Eppu Jensen.

I am certainly reminded of sky and water when the weather is changing, or of seeing a golden sunrise through mist.

In the design process, I’m fascinated by the number of iterations a pattern might go through before “the one” emerges. Below is a photo with the Sääpäiväkirja coffee mug and some of the sketches:

Marimekko Saapaivakirja in the making

Sääpäiväkirja pattern by Aino-Maija Metsola / Marimekko.

If you’re at all interested in the design process, you should definitely visit the U.S. Marimekko site for more photos of sketches next to finished products.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Discoveries: Gudrun Sjödén

Colors, Design & Designers, Inspiration, Thumbs Up

Gudrun Sjödén is a Swedish designer who has run a store by the same name for almost 40 years. I just discovered the company today, and I’m blown away!

They carry home textiles and women’s clothing of Gudrun’s design. One of her lines for the 2013 winter season (both home textiles and clothing) drew inspiration from Estonian folk art, but I see modern design as well:

Gudrun Sjoden Collage1

Gudrun Sjödén; collage by Eppu Jensen.

Gudrun Sjoden Collage2

Gudrun Sjödén; collage by Eppu Jensen.

Gudrun Sjoden Collage3

Gudrun Sjödén; collage by Eppu Jensen.

Some of the clothing reminds me of Marimekko or of Eileen Fisher except for the colors. Have a look yourself:

Gudrun Sjoden Clothing Collage

Gudrun Sjödén; collage by Eppu Jensen.

Granted, the designs are not for everyone – a NYT article from this April described the style “as if Putamayo, Marimekko and Eileen Fisher had a love child.” (Someone else sees similarities between Gudrun & Eileen Fisher, ha!) They definitely embody the company’s idea, though, which is to make “colourful clothes and home textiles in natural materials with an emphasis on Scandinavian design” (quoted from Gudrun’s World). A lot of her designs do feel familiar.

Although the Gudrun Sjödén stores are mainly found in Europe, they have a store in New York City, too:

Gudrun Sjoden New York Store

Gudrun Sjödén’s New York Store.

I wonder whether I’ll have to add the store to my things-to-do-next-time-I’m-in-NYC list…

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.