Brazilian-born designer, Florence, traveled the world to set up her business amid the green streets and 1960s apartment blocks of Helsinki’s Hermanni. Her globetrotting story comes alive in the colors and objects chosen for her family’s compact three-room apartment.
A welcoming home is one in which objects and features have meaning and a place, and an interior that comes alive with suggestions of life's coincidences and discoveries. In Florence’s family home, every object, every piece of furniture contains a memory. It’s a home bursting with stories.
"It's very important to me that when I look at every corner of my home, I see my life; the things I've done, the places I've visited, memories of my life reflected in the present." says Florence.
Decorating with memories is especially important to me as I'm so far away from home.
This yearning for self-expression led the designer-entrepreneur to create her own self-titled clothing brand and to invite her lived experiences into her home decor.
"I fell in love with fashion and got into the clothing business because dressing is first and foremost about communicating with the world and other people,” she explains. “The same goes for home decoration. Your home tells a lot about you and your personality; what kind of person you are, what you have done in your life and where you come from. Decorating with memories is especially important to me as I'm so far away from home."
Her home transports you from the shores of South America to Africa, and to the wilds of the North. The furniture is also a happy mix of Italian and Danish design, with Finnish design classics and practical basics thrown in for good measure. Artek's table, Kartell's Masters and Normann Copenhagen's Bit chairs, and Hakola's turquoise sofa live in happy coexistence. The interior is a combination of elements that speak to the occupants, that take them to other worlds.
"Even if Ikea furniture provides the framework, the paintings and souvenirs make our home look like us and it has our own personality. Fortunately, my spouse likes the same things I do. There's no interesting drama involved in our decorating," laughs Florence.
In Brazil they say that in the morning you have to look at the sun to wake up. Here in Finland, you don't get the chance to do that very often. So here is my sun.
The home is a perfect homage to the joyous beauty of color. In the spacious living room, small objects and colorful furniture are set against the backdrop of calm, pale walls. However, the couple wanted to spice up the bedroom. Yellow wasn't in Florence's plans when she started looking for the right shade, but soon became a contender.
"I was thinking beige or maybe blue. Yellow hadn't even crossed my mind, but when I saw a bright and vibrant yellow, I was sold. I fell in love at first sight and bought the can straight away," she says.
Yellow sits perfectly on the main wall of the small bedroom. White, original 60s cabinets and plush white duvets are a fresh pairing with the cheerful shade. A wooden finger-panel bedhead adds a touch of poise to the small room and the color is both bright and calm at the same time, giving the bedroom a pleasant, even natural feel.
"I was a little surprised at how calming the end result was. The yellow doesn't dominate the room and the shade doesn't feel overpowering at all. On the contrary, I'm thirsty for more of it. I immediately wondered if I should paint the ceiling too!" laughs Florence.
Yellow also brings back memories of childhood in her beloved Brazil.
"In Brazil they say that in the morning you have to look at the sun to wake up. Here in Finland, you don't get the chance to do that very often. So here is my sun," she says.
Whenever the longing for a faraway place strikes, she sits with her family on the bright turquoise sofa and travels through the pages of an art book.
For Florence, color is not only about self-expression, it is also about emotional experience. Different colors intuitively evoke different emotions and she loves to visit homes where “lived life” is present. Intertwined with memories, for her, are the feelings associated with the deep blue seas of Brazil or the shade of a wall of a house seen on her travels. At present, it’s deep blue she’s stuck on.
"Years ago, in Morocco, I saw a cobalt blue house in Yves Saint Laurent's Jardin Majorelle garden. I couldn't get that blue out of my mind." Florence’s home is about life on land and sea, her years in Canada and dreams at the pulsing heart of the big city. Whenever the longing for a faraway place strikes, she sits with her family on the bright turquoise sofa and travels through the pages of an art book.
When we leave, it feels like we've been on a longer trip than to a quiet apartment building in the inner-city suburbs. We get as far as the stairs when Florence runs after us into the hallway: "Let me know if you create a cobalt blue shade!"
I was delighted to message Florence last week - perhaps our new shade of bright dark blue will transport her to the seas and memories of Morocco.