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Iconic movie set turned into a design showroom Tallinn Design House

Tallinn Design House is active on the Estonian cultural scene

7 min read
© Atko Januson

  © Atko Januson

A modern urban quarter is taking shape at the site of the former Rotermann bread factory, the eerie ruins of which the brilliant Russian movie director Andrei Tarkovski chose to be the perfect setting for his post-apocalyptic cult film ‘Stalker’ in the 1970s. Instead of the former movie set, the newly renovated buildings recently saw the opening of an elegant showroom – Tallinn Design House.

The emotional architectural landscape created in the historical industrial surroundings of Rotermanni Quarter is a great lead-in to the design store and showroom – Tallinn Design House. As you step into the hall surrounded by old limestone, modern concrete and large glass surfaces, you find yourself in the midst of the best collections of Estonian designer brands. The initial impact is tranquil, thought-through, convincing. The eye catches a glimpse of ceramics, furniture, lighting, jewellery and books. There is the finest and most complete presentation of Estonian fashion brands.

This light-filled space is the visible appearance of an initiative led by Anu Lõhmus, Head of the Tallinn Creative Incubator. 

  © Atko Januson

The basis

A few words on history. We come from a society that used to contrast creativity and enterprise. By the turn of the millennium, the former arts support structure in Estonia had completely disappeared and creative fields found themselves in a total vacuum.  Gradually the first support structures for creative industries were created here, taking their inspiration from global incubator networks. In the Creative Incubator founded in 2006, they began to reinvent the understanding of the potential and economic value of creativity.

  © Atko Januson

Anu Lõhmus had always been active in the world of entrepreneurship.  She united a number of experienced entrepreneurs from various fields. Today, there are approximately thirty mentors involved in the mentoring and training programme of the Creative Incubator, sharing their advice and business know-how with start-ups and young designer brands. The aim is to help the young entrepreneurs achieve their business goals through an individual development programme by looking for and sharing contacts, creating support networks and broadening their horizons and connections.

The diverse group of Incubator graduates includes, for instance, the screen motion graphics studio TOLM, which keeps picking up more and more design awards; the Estonian team of the accounting portal RMP whose services are used daily by the majority of Estonian entrepreneurs; developers of the language learning app Lingvist; creators of health- and beauty products; designers and creators of web services, and also the successful leather goods factory Craftory, whose minimalistic design language has freshened the canons of Estonian applied arts classics.

Faced with the need for a space for promotional purposes, the showroom for unique Estonian design brands – Tallinn Design House – opened its doors in May.

  © Atko Januson

The style and the selection

In selecting the design brands, it was decided to opt for designs which are unlikely to become mass consumer goods. The showroom prefers products as serial models born from unique design ideas and product collections that express vision, the designer’s professional touch of form and material with a focus on special types of clients. In making the selection, attention is paid to the designer’s/maker’s approach to the discipline they represent as well as their creative choices.

‘We welcome designers who have a high sense of self-awareness, a sense of style and whose creations emanate the kind of Nordic clarity that is in our nature. The brands represented by us must offer product families with clear visual and functional common characteristics. The design brands with attractive backstories presented at Tallinn Design House come from diligent small producers who are able to fulfil their contracts in required volumes and who are focused on export. TDH considers it important that the quality and presentation of products support the brand image and create a sense of trust and recognition in our visitors. The designers and products are chosen by independent experts in the field – designer Ruth-Helene 

Melioranski, art historian Kai Lobjakas and fashion marketing specialist and the founder of the Fashion Cinema, Helen Saluveer,’ says Anu Lõhmus.

  © Atko Januson

The brands

One immediately notices clear shapes and carefully selected materials at the TDH showroom. The large bright space is spiced up with colourful ceramics and special design furniture pieces – Jaanus Orgusaar’s wavy shelves, armchairs by Borg, concrete sinks by Hyperborea, cosy lights by 4Room and contemporary lighting by Mari Lights.

The selection of fashion brands also includes those most well-known and loved by the Estonian clientele, for example one of the most established fashion brands Ivo Nikkolo as well as the exclusive fashion lines of Amanjeda by Katrin Kuldma, couture collections by Kristina Viirpalu, KVCouture, and the luxurious collections of Pohjanheimo. Tallinn Design House is proud to present unique home accessories from Monika Järg, popular textile patterns from Mare Kelpmann, cool kitchenware of Valhalla Living, multifunctional light objects of SU valgus and many others.

  © Atko Januson

The list of brands to be proud of continues with beautifully handcrafted super personal wooden glasses by Framed by Karl, masculine leather items by Craftory and high quality porcelain dishes by Liisu Arro. Birgit Skolimowski and Anneli Tammik are a few samples of the fine jewellery design of Estonia. The limited series by Lummus is a successful collaborative project of jewellery designers and an Estonian historical jewellery factory.

A broad selection of home decoration products is also on offer and Anu Lõhmus refers to the meeting room in a quiet corner of the showroom as an example: ‘The meeting room was designed by our designers and producers – the wavy floorboards come from Bolefloor, the rustic table with glass legs from Oriens, the chairs and clothes hanger from Toivo Raidmets, the lighting from Tõnis Vellama, the cupboards from Mööblimeister and presentation technology from Valge Klaar. In addition, the sound is muted by Okka panels made of pine needles, which also come with a moving story.’ This list goes on and on; you can find more

information on

  © Atko Januson

The scenery

The mission of TDH is more than just a design shop but specifically designed as a cross-marketing and sales platform that provides designers with the necessary toolbox for presenting and selling their brand in a multi-brand environment.

An intrinsic principle of TDH’s operations is for each maker to have a well-thought-out presentation of their respective brand. Tallinn Design House arranges joint projects and events and maximizes common PR activities, sales shows, hotspots or displays, workshops and exhibits. By coordinating international joint activities, TDH hosts leaders and intermediaries in design, bloggers and retailers from other countries. Tallinn Design House is active on the Estonian cultural scene, activities are coordinated with local cultural festivals like large international music and film festivals – Tallinn Music Week, Jazzkaar, Dark Nights Film Festival, and Design Festival, which is led by the Estonian Union of Designers

  © Atko Januson

The future

At this point, it seems inevitable to ask what the purpose of local small production and sustainable, couture-based consumer design is. Anu Lõhmus gives a convincing reply: ‘We have the opportunity to offer an alternative to the satiated world.’  In addition to this beautiful purpose and products that stand the test of time, Tallinn Design House is open to all alike thinkers – all design and fashion followers from Estonia and elsewhere are invited to exchange ideas and organise events in this inspirational environment in Rotermanni Quarter.

Source: Life in Estonia

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