Commissioned by the Finnish Institute in London for the 2010 London Design Festival, HEL YES! collided furniture from thinned out forests with foraged and Finnish-imported ingredients and donated design plates in a candle—lit campsite—like space. The two-week London edition featured traditional Finnish ingredients mixed with locally foraged food. In 2011 a former warehouse in Helsinki was converted to host the next edition, again leaning on communal eating and a customised interior mixing and matching old, new, unique and repurposed items.
The already successful concept was taken even further, now combining the design-driven dining experience with contemporary dance.
The HEL YES! restaurant in 2012 at Stockholm’s Eric Ericsonshallen—an old church—during the Furniture Fair was the last build-up satellite towards the World Design Capital Helsinki celebratory year. The already successful concept was taken even further, now combining the design-driven dining experience with contemporary dance. Antto and designers Mia Wallenius and Klaus Haapaniemi worked together with a group of creatives from different disciplines, including interior designer Linda Bergroth, designer Harri Koskinen and artist Mi Duncker. Nature, pagan mysticism, textiles featuring fauna and galaxies, the spiritual side of design and Slavic vibes created a microcosmos: an interactive social gathering where the line between waiters and dancers choreographed by Kenneth Kvarnström was blurred and a Bone Orchesta created by Duncker played live music made of animal bones and skulls.
The kitchen played with very contemporary themes like a nature-driven process, flexibility and immediacy.
Launched during Milan Design Week 2011, the joint effort of Antto, world-acclaimed Catalan designer Martí Guixé and Lapin Kulta beer was a nomadic restaurant serving solar-cooked food. Dishes were cooked with pure solar energy with large, mirror-like solar cookers. The environmental-gastronomic art project and temporary gourmet eatery with guest chefs celebrated the sun, top-notch food, beer, art and life.
The kitchen went on to travel around Finland, with longer pop up residencies in Helsinki at the former fishing harbour Kalatasama in 2011 and at the Abattoir in 2013. International pitstops included Sweden, Japan, Alaska and Israel. The kitchen played with very contemporary themes like a nature-driven process, flexibility and immediacy. Open on sunny days, the kitchen also asked eaters to adapt to nature: dealing with delays, adapting dishes or rescheduling in bad weather, or calling off a business lunch for a cloud. Unlike traditional ways of cooking, solar heat affects the taste and texture of dishes in a surprising and positive way, producing a completely different taste experience. The traveling kitchen also hosted building parties. The LKSKR concept picked up two prizes at the annual Best of Finnish Advertising and Design competition in 2011.
The former abattoir of the City of Helsinki opened its doors to the public in 2012 as a new hub for food culture. The first restaurant to open in the Abattoir premises was the restaurant and event space Kellohalli, managed by Antto until 2014. Right from the beginning, the concept included food-related events such as design-inspired dinners, a kitchenware flea market, farmers’ markets, a picnic for neighbours, discussion events, a workshop for new restaurateurs, theme days on using mushrooms and fish, and Mad Cook evenings serving twisted street food—on top of breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. The redbrick buildings of the area date back to 1933 and have found new life now hosting e.g. the City Wholesale Market, a bakery, pasta factory, coffee roastery and several restaurants. Kellohalli was the main venue for food-related happenings during the Helsinki World Design Capital year in 2012, with a programme mixing food, design and urban culture curated by Antto.
Right from the beginning, the concept included food-related events such as design-inspired dinners.
An installation project built for and commissioned by Art Basel in 2015 created a temporary hospitality utopia in front of the art fair entrance. The outdoor structure invited fair visitors to take a breather and engage in various activities, if they wanted to. The team comprising of Antto, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Nikolaus Hirsch and Michel Müller set up an herbal garden and hosted a no-timetable and no-rules kitchen where passersby could sip herbal tea from leaves plucked from the on-site garden, as well as take part in cooking and eating. The project was an extension of Tiravanija and Thai artist Kamin Lertchaiprasert’s artistic community in Northern Thailand, called ‘the land’. The food served at Art Basel was based on Thai traditions. There was no menu or price list—compensation was determined by visitors and anyone could serve themselves, or help with cooking and cleaning up. The project examined the ecological cycle of herbs from cultivation and growing to consuming on-location, as well as movements of people and hospitality. The same team has also hosted pop up dinners in Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and Bangkok: a bastardised mix of Thai and European flavours with a splash of Finnish and at times with a side of music by the Bastard Brothers—a band spin-off featuring Antto, Rirkrit and Karl Holmqvist.
There was no menu or price list—compensation was determined by visitors and anyone could serve themselves, or help with cooking and cleaning up.
Antto introduced a new take on the Finnish night time grill at Flow: a gourmet hot dog stand.
Antto took the lead in developing the culinary side of Helsinki’s Flow Festival in the years 2007-2009. Top food at a festival was a novelty concept 10 years ago, and has since become an essential part of the festival experience. In 2007, Antto introduced a new take on the Finnish night time grill at Flow: a gourmet hot dog stand. Following that success—and the festival’s move from an old warehouse block to the current venue at the former power plant Suvilahti— Antto continued reinterpreting festival food in 2008 with a 600 square metre food court with furniture by Artek and menus by Antto. The following year, Antto was in charge of curating an even bigger food complex, inviting along restaurants and caterers such as Makutakuu, Raku Ya, Grotesk and Nolla. Antto’s own acclaimed festival restaurant served vegetarian fare right in the middle of the food court, with table service.
Photo Flow/Jussi Hellsten