A marketplace café by 6 Finnish design students.

Coffee is ready!

We are a group of design students from Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. As a part of our collaboration with Kobe Design University, we present Torikoju, our take on Eating in Open Air.

During the first five months of 2012 we designed and built a complete pop-up cafeteria including the tableware, coffee percolators, tables and stools, textiles, clothing and even the cafeteria tent itself.

Our cafe was open for everybody in Helsinki on May 19th as a part of the famous food carnival, called the Restaurant Day. On that day, anyone can open up a restaurant in the streets of Helsinki.

Eating in Open Air


Eating in Open Air is a design project of the students from Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland and Kobe Design University, Japan.

The aim of the project is to examine the traditions and habits of eating outside and study how they are reflected in design both in Finland and Japan. The idea is to take a look into the international and local characteristics of design and food culture in these two countries and to find new and original interpretations of them.

A group of students from both Universities run out their own projects under the common theme of eating outside. The result of the work is brought together into three exhibitions in autumn 2012, first in Helsinki, then in Tokyo and Kobe.

Torikoju is the Finnish word for stalls used at the market place. The idea behind the work of the students from Aalto University is to eat in the middle of city. Eating out in the nature is an old habit everyone is familiar with. What is new is to eat outside also in the city and to take over spontaneously the formally controlled environment whenever the weather is fine and one feels like it.

Market places and their stalls are a typical part of Finnish town centers. They form a living tradition that attracts both citizens and tourists who are longing for original and genuine experiences.

The TORIKOJU project was realized on the 19th of May 2012. On that particular day, called the RESTAURANT DAY, anyone can open up a restaurant for one day and serve each other meals in the streets, gardens and homes of Helsinki.

TORIKOJU was put up on a pier at the Hietalahti harbor, closed to the market place. Simple Finnish food – bread, coffee, cinnamon rolls and lemonade was served to the passers-by.

The students designed and built a functional market stall with all the necessary equipment. They designed tables and stools as well as a unique coffee maker and all the tableware needed for preparing, serving and eating food. They also created original textiles and clothes for a relaxed get together event.

This one day ephemeral event was documented and is presented in a series of exhibitions in Finland and Japan.


Noora Liesimaa

Torikoju tent

The Torikoju tent is a minimalistic archetype of a house. The form of the tent is familiar from traditional Finnish architecture. The simple shape and the long, narrow table make the tent easy to approach from different directions.
The transparent wall material connects the tent to its surroundings and emphasizes the activity around it.


painted steel / marquees / transparent screen fabric


250 x 250 x 300 cm

Noora Liesimaa

Wooden boxes

The wooden boxes have an essential role in the Torikoju design. They function both as furniture and containers for transportation. The sizes of the boxes are optimized for storing the Torikoju tableware and all other equipment. The boxes are both stackable and nestable


pine wood


58 x 58 x 38 cm /
45 x 47 x 45 cm /
40 x 40 x 40 cm

Antti Kangas

Coffee maker

The pot made of laboratory glass shows how a traditional coffee percolator works. When the pot is heated, the bubbles rise in the vertical tube. The colour of the water gradually darkens as the coffee drips from the top chamber filled with ground coffee. The form and materials are restrained to keep the focus on the coffee making process.


laboratory glass / stainless steel


height 27 cm, diameter 13 cm


Tero Kuitunen & Tiina Leinonen

Cup, bowl and Jar

The Torikoju cup originates from the paper cups used in Finnish marketplace cafes. The emphasized round lip shape is used in all dishes: the cup, sugar bowl and milk jar. The white porcelain with different shades of blue makes the design fun and Finnish.


stained porcelain


cup 1,5 dl / sugar bowl 2 dl / milk jar 5 dl

Tero Kuitunen & Tiina Leinonen

Porcelain basket and tray

The porcelain tray and baskets are designed for small finger food. They are inspired by traditional Finnish baskets made of birch bark. The delicate lightness and the traditional folding evoke nostalgic feelings.


paper porcelain


15 x 12 cm / 45 x 43 cm

Tero Kuitunen & Tiina Leinonen

Wooden tray

The tray is made from solid Finnish pine wood. The design is simple and clean for the dishes and the food to stand out.


pine wood


18 x 30 cm

Clothes and textiles

Annaleena Hämäläinen

Napkin and kitchen towel

The pattern for the napkin comes from the old Finnish plaited basket. Linen as a material is obvious, it´s beautiful, rough and very Finnish.


hand printed linen


40 x 40 cm / 60 x 40 cm

Annaleena Hämäläinen & Janni Turtiainen


The carpet is a new version of the Finnish “räsymatto”. Traditionally the “räsymatto” is woven by using old recycled cloths. The carpet is made from various materials, including the leftovers from making the aprons.


various textile materials


60 x 200 cm

Janni Turtiainen & Annaleena Hämäläinen

Herb bag

The idea is from guerilla gardening. The bag is made of two separate parts. The leather part can be adjusted to other bags and sacks or to whatever one needs to carry. The sack is designed for wood sorrels and birch plants. The orange colour is emblematic for the traditional Finnish market place tents.


tanned cow leather / marquees


60 x 40 cm / 40 x 25 cm

Janni Turtiainen


The idea behind the apron is to imitate the classic working clothe and play with the different surfaces of the interior and exterior, giving an impression of unfinished, yet detailed design – 7 collages of pair of jeans turned into aprons.


cotton and elastan

Janni Turtiainen


A solid leather belt for hard working Torikoju staff.


tanned cow leather


145 – 147 cm x 3 cm



Habitare 2012

12.9 — 16.9.2012
Helsinki, Finland

Habitare Ahead! Design area, Stand 7p11

Tokyo Design Week

28.10 — 31.10.2012
8th Gallery at Claska Hotel
Meguro, Tokyo, Japan


8.11 — 12.11.2012
Design Creative Center
Kobe, Japan

The group



Annaleena Hämäläinen
Antti Kangas
Tero Kuitunen
Tiina Leinonen
Noora Liesimaa
Janni Turtiainen


Nathalie Lahdenmäki
Martin Relander

The consulting chef

Hilja Nikkanen


Venla Helenius

Graphic designer

Jenni Viitanen

Thank you

Matti Kauppinen
Markus Koistinen
Teemu Mäntylä
Henri Halla-aho
Tomi Pelkonen
Simo Puintila
Hans Sällström

A word by the teachers

Time to time we are invited to participate to international design projects or exhibitions. These occasions require typically collaboration far beyond the normal study curriculum and give valuable experience to the students in organizing international design events and in promoting their work in a global world.

This project was initiated by the Kobe Design University. The project organization was very light. Both Universities would work independently. The result of the work would only be seen when they are brought together in a series of exhibitions, giving the possibility to compare the results. This way of working gives also a certain sense of competition. What will the other team do? How does our project differ from the Japanese one? This is a friendly design competition between cultures, institutions and people.

Culture is about how people – at different times and in different places do the same things differently. It is human to do thing differently. And this difference is our culture. How we eat and drink, how we get together and how we enjoy each other’s company make us who we are.

The theme of the project, Eating in Open Air, suited us well. It combines naturally all the different design disciplines into one comprehensive unity. We tried to find a new angle to the question. We found the answer much closer than we originally thought. Eating out – not in the forest, not on an island, lakeside, not even in the city parks of boulevards, but in the middle of the city, on the market square, on the harbor pier. That´s the concept!

Torikoju is a market square tent, normally quite a modest structure, where simple food is sold. It is an old and popular tradition, but still alive today. The lack of gastronomic quality is replaced by the friendly and relaxed atmosphere, both between the staff and the customers.

We chose to build the Torikoju in the Hietalahti harbor. It is strangely at the same time a very ugly and beautiful place in the middle of Helsinki. It tells about the origin of our city as a harbor, but also about the mutation the city is going through. The rough seamen district is turning into a chic neighbourhood and eventually losing its original charm. We wanted to document this unique quality of the place.

On the Restaurant day 19th May 2012 early in the morning we set our tent on the pier next to the tugboat Atlas. The ship crew saw us building the Torikoju and putting up the service. At the end of the evening they pledged us to return the next day. Our torikoju had been approved by the people who matter the most for us.

The Restaurant day happened to be the first beautiful day of this early spring. The sun was shining the whole day and a fresh breeze was blowing from the sea. The Torikoju flag was flying making us visible from far. A steady flow of visitors came in during the whole day. By six pm. all the food had been eaten and we could only smile and dismantle the tent.

When we first chose a group of six talented students from different disciplines, our aim was to form a strong design team. First each student worked quite independently on given design tasks. But the closer we got to the venue, the more evident became the necessity of collective effort. At the verge of the event we reached a true design team spirit.

Nathalie Lahdenmäki and
Martin Relander