The new Artek store in Helsinki is not only a design shop, but a living room for the city’s residents. “I have received more positive feedback on the shop space than on any store feature before,” says Store Manager Ulla Rutanen.
The Artek flagship store, renowned for furniture designed by Alvar Aalto, moved to a new property on Keskuskatu street in Helsinki in March. You could hardly find a more suitable location for the new shop—the property, owned by Sponda, is located between two buildings designed by Aalto himself. The property is flanked by Akateeminen Kirjakauppa bookstore on one side, and Artek’s former long-term home, the Rautatalo building, on the other side.
“Our goal was to find as central a location as possible, and we definitely nailed it,” says Store Manager Ulla Rutanen.
“The facilities are older than the buildings designed by Aalto, but the frame is clear with clean lines. For example, the upstairs windows are very ‘artek’. This property truly offers a great framework for our new shop concept.”
“A clean, bare and wonderful space”
Extensive renovations were carried out in the property before Artek moved in. All surfaces were painted and, for example, the ceiling structures were replaced with lighter solutions. Moreover, some separating walls were eliminated and the space was opened up to create a more harmonious whole.
“In a way, everything unnecessary was taken out. Now the space is clean, bare and wonderful,” says Store Manager Rutanen.
During the design process of the new shop concept, new materials were selected to highlight the wooden furniture.
“We did not want top off wood with wood, so to speak. That is why we chose to use stone and metal.”
The significance of light is highlighted in the spacious shop. According to Rutanen, Artek has tried to make the most of the brilliant natural light available.
“Also, the original staircase makes for a beautiful detail. The steps are of extremely pleasant dimensions. People make their way to the second floor and are interested in seeing what is there.”
New target groups
The flagship store located on Keskuskatu street is currently the only actual Artek shop. That is why it has been designed to reach all possible target groups. According to Store Manager Rutanen, the mission has been accomplished.
“The new location helps us reach people who would not specifically come to visit an Artek shop. Surprisingly many customers pop in on their way to the theatre, for example,” says Rutanen.
Regular customer and tourists, who form an important customer group for Artek, have also praised the new shop.
“I have received more positive feedback on the new shop than on any store feature before. All customer groups have given positive feedback—including the ones who were first a bit uncertain about the move.”
Inspiration for customers
The shop is intended not only to present Artek and its furniture, but to also serve as a kind of living room and a joint space for the city residents. Many customers have shared this experience.
“Many customers say that they come here to rest their feet, gain ideas, and have a look at new sales articles. In other words, to draw inspiration,” says Rutanen.
The sales concept includes, for example, a small book kiosk that offers a changing selection of publications, including different magazines. On Saturdays, green tea is served on the second floor.
“Customers can come to wind down on the second floor, switch on their laptops, leaf through the publications, and have some tea.”