Porvoo, Finland, only an hour from Helsinki, is a medieval coastal town and a cultural haven, well known for its exciting culinary scene, colorful wooden houses and cafés. Here, you will discover the new Runo Porvoo Hotel, a family-owned landmark building and business blending Finnish traditions with contemporary Nordic design, world-class artwork and the rustic-meets-modern allure of American Shaker-style furnishings.
The property is a member of Design Hotels, and Finnish interior designer Joanna Laajisto perfectly demonstrates how historic spaces can be transformed without losing their soul. She loves off-the-beaten-path spots possessing all the allure, charm and sophistication of the world’s most popular destinations.
Runo, which means poem, lyrically threads together Finnish traditions, history and mythology throughout the property. Envisioned by co-founder Erkka Hirvonen, it was brought to life with the help of Laajisto. The Jugend-style Runo building was constructed in 1912, and many of the original elements, such as the reliefs on the façade depicting mythical figures from the national epic Kalevala, regal staircases, early 20th-century fireplaces blended with contemporary Nordic and rustic furniture, have been retained.
The ground floor, a big open, modern space that houses the lobby, a restaurant and lounge, features a mix of Shaker-style furniture and Scandinavian classics, including Hans J. Wegner’s iconic J16 rocking chairs and Space Copenhagen’s Spine lounge chairs, interspersed with paintings and sculptures from young Finnish artists such as Linda Linko, Riku Riippa, Iisa Maaranen and Inka Bell.
The theme of renewal is seen throughout the property, from the carefully renovated structure to the repurposed traditional Karelian textiles and the locally handcrafted pieces of furniture, some of which were made from 300-year-old pine floorboards sourced from Hirvonen’s family estate in the nearby countryside. Hirvonen’s mother and father also sifted through hundreds of old hay sticks and cleaned up salvageable pieces so craftspeople could transform them into towel ladders in the bathrooms.
The pride of place the Hirvonen family feels for the hotel also extends to the city, Porvoo, known for its charming wooden houses and an exciting culinary scene that draws foodies from Helsinki and beyond.
“From the start, the owners had a clear vision of what kind of a hotel they wanted to develop,” said Laajisto. “They had realized the value of the old building, interior design, and high quality. In Finland, hotel projects are rarely implemented with such devotion and detailed design.”
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