ISSUE 26  |  Summer Kitchen

Story Restaurant: The New Chapter for Helsinki’s Old Market Hall

July 01, 2015 1:00 PM

BY Margot Guralnick

Admired in the heart of Helsinki’s newly revived Old Market Hall: Story, a trim cafe-restaurant with waterfront views and a surprise overhead installation of fish trap lights. The design is the work of Joanna Laajisto, a master at combining Scandi rigor with a playful touch.

Photography via Joanna Laajisto Creative Studio.

Above: The 1889 market, Vanha Kauppahalli, a landmark protected by the National Board of Antiquities, reopened last summer. It’s filled with food stalls, and Story is situated in the heart of the hall in the spot once used for loading horse carriages.

“The challenge was to get the high-ceilinged space to feel intimate instead of a space to pass through,” says Laajisto, who responded by creating three discreet seating areas. The chalkboards that front the kitchen/bar, shown here, are painted in a custom-mixed navy.

Above: Herbs in white ceramic pots bring the orderly oak shelving to life. Cooking is done on the premises using ingredients gathered from the market and seafood is a specialty

Above: An elevated section overlooking the harbor offers leather-upholstered oak booths lit by a customized versions of Laajisto’s Edit Wall Lamp.

Above: Muted two-toned walls are paired with Danish design studio Hay’s colorful Copenhague Chairs. Note the bouquets of flatware on the tables. 

Above: Story is owned by four of the city’s best-known restaurateurs, Anders Westerholm, Matti Sarkkinen, Teemu Aura and Markus Hurskainen, and the fishing traps came out of one of their summer houses. Laajisto used them to solve a problem posed by the hall’s building restrictions: Lights aren’t allowed to be suspended from the nearly 33-foot-high ceilings, so she created wall-hung sculptures.

The tables are the custom work of local designer Tebian and the seats are Copenhague Stools from Hay.

Above: A closer look at the nautical construction.

Above: The bar is faced with composite stone tile in a herringbone pattern.

Below: The market has a prime location overlooking the harbor. For more details, go to Story.