written by:
July 29, 2013
Originally published in Designers at Home
as
Fortress of Beatitude
Two young designers happily make their home inside an 18th-century fortress, reborn as a thriving artists’ enclave, off the coast of Helsinki.
Designers Aino-Maija Metsola and Georgi Eremenko

Designers Aino-Maija Metsola and Georgi Eremenko unfurl one of Metsola’s textile creations.

Photo by: Kati Rapia

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The couple lives and works in one of several apartments available to artists at Suomenlinna, a onetime military fotress built atop six separate islands off Helisinki.

Photo by: Kati Rapia

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An aerial shot off the coast of Helsinki.

Photo by: Kati Rapia

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The fortress is accessible via a 15-minute ferry ride from the city's center.

Photo by: Kati Rapia

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Designers Aino-Maija Metsola and Georgi Eremenko

Designers Aino-Maija Metsola and Georgi Eremenko unfurl one of Metsola’s textile creations.

Photo by: Kati Rapia

In 2009, designer Aino-Maija Metsola heard that one of the highly coveted artists’ studios at Suomenlinna, a former military stronghold located in the Finland Strait, was available to rent. She immediately applied. “It’s great luck if you get one,” recalls Metsola, who beat out many other applicants and now lives on the island with her husband, graphic designer Georgi Eremenko, and their dog, Turo. The apartment is one big open space with thick walls, high ceilings, and a view of the sea. Their neighbors are all creative types, including a movie director, a costume designer, and a painter. “We have a lot of parties; it’s a really nice environment,” explains Metsola, an in-house designer at Marimekko, whose recent line for the company, the Weather Diary, is inspired by her life at the fortress. “The most important thing to me is people—I grew up in the country, and it’s like a little village here. That kind of community is hard to find in Helsinki. It’s perfect for us.”

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