Wallpaper can be helpful for adding flair to a room, covering a rubbish plaster job and wonky walls, and ... saving the world? That's the hope of Finnish interiors brand FEATHR who have created a new wallpaper to mark the arrival of Presidents Trump and Putin to Finland for the Helsinki summit. To show what they could learn from Finland to help fix the world, rolls of the “Finland Toile” wallpaper have been sent to both presidents as gifts prior to the start of the summit.
Mixing traditional Toile de Jouy styling with playful modern Nordic illustrations, the “Finland Toile” wallpaper features ten traits that have helped make Finland one of the most progressive and happiest countries in the world, according to UN’s 2018 World Happiness Report.
The scenes within the wallpaper include two women kissing outside of the Saarinen-designed Helsinki railway station, representing tolerance; a breast-feeding working mother, showing how Finland is the best place to be a mother; and a naked-sauna, that bedrock of the candor and lack of artifice that defines Finnish culture.
The “Finland Toile” wallpaper also includes scenes illustrating the unique spirit that has driven the creation of Finnish society, ranging from “sisu”—an untranslatable word akin to grit or determination—to “kalsarikännit”, literally translated as “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear with no intention of going out.”
Tom Puukko, Co-Founder of FEATHR, said, “Finland is the most wonderful place to live: and that’s no accident. It’s come about through hard work to create a society that lives by rules of tolerance, fairness, community, decency and respecting others and the environment. Finns are known for being humble, but we think if the world lived a bit more like Finland then the world would be a better place. Whatever you think of the policies of Trump and Putin, they hold power in the world: so we hope they can take something from Finland that encourages them to wield that power for good.”
1. Take a naked sauna
With 3.3 million saunas for a population of 5.3 million, taking a sauna is a Finnish national obsession. It’s about more than just warming up on cold days. Saunas are always naked and sometimes communal: they represent the stripping away of hierarchy, artifice and gimmicks for showing what is really true. Underneath, we’re all just the same.
2. Be tolerant
There’s an old Finnish saying: “let every flower bloom.” And they do: across a range of different surveys—including the 2016 Social Progress Index and the Legatum Prosperity Index—the Finns often lead the pack for being socially progressive and tolerant. Which in turn according to the 2018 World Happiness Report makes for happiest country on earth.
3. Love nature
Finland’s nature is one of extremes: in both weather and also in numbers. It has more trees than any other country in Europe, 179,584 mind-boggling islands and even more lakes: 188,000 in total. The result is a society formed by and respectful of nature. Not only is Finland the most eco-friendly country in the world, ranking number one in the 2016 Environmental Performance Index, but it has ambitions to go even further: by 2025 its capital, Helsinki, wants to make the car obsolete.
4. Read books
Finns love books. Not only has Finland been ranked the most literate nation by the 2016 World’s Most Literate Nations study, but Finns are also amongst the world’s most enthusiastic users of public libraries, with the 5.5m population borrowing over 68m books per year. “Finland is a country of readers,” declared the country’s UK ambassador Päivi Luostarinen recently: and she’s backed up by the stats.
In the annual ranking by Reporters without Borders, Finland frequently gains top spot as having the freest press in the world. All it takes, according to Ilkka Nousiainen, Chairperson of the Finnish branch of Reporters without Borders, is to let, “journalists […] write freely without interference from media owners or the government.” And with excellent WiFi ubiquitous in public spaces, there’s never an excuse not to be up to date on current affairs.
6. Empower women
Finland constantly ranks in the top 5 countries to be a woman, and often tops the list when it comes to motherhood. With maternity leave lasting up to 3 years, shared parental leave with dads, excellent healthcare, respect within the workplace for working parents and that famous baby box: it all adds up to giving the next generation the best possible start by empowering their parents to live rounded and fulfilling lives.
7. Make daddy time
Finland also tops the tables when it comes to shared parenting. In fact, a recent OECD report found that Finland is the only country in the world where fathers spend more time with school-aged children than the mother. And daddy doesn’t have to be a man: Finland also supports rainbow families with the same benefits as traditional families. Well-balanced families mean a well-balanced society.
8. Have sisu
“Sisu”, that indefinable Finnish spirit, is essentially untranslatable but best described through a range of English words including stoicism, determination, tenacity and hardiness. Finns view “sisu” as being an integral part of Finnish culture: the ability to face what’s in front of you and deal with it with courage, bravery, grit and decency.
9. Live the Finnish dream
“If you want the American dream”, wrote the Huffington Post in 2013, “move to Finland.” Finland is famed for the results it achieves in its education system: which it does not by chasing results, but by prioritizing equal education opportunities for all. “Regardless of a person’s gender, background, or social welfare status,” said Krista Kiuru, then Finland’s minister of education and science, “everyone should have an equal chance to make the most of their skills.” The result is a country that makes the top 5 for social mobility, according to the OECD.
10. Try kalsarikännit
With so much effort going in to create a progressive society (and with Finland being ranked top for physical activity in Europe), it’d be easy to assume that Finns are go-go-go the whole time. Not quite. The Finns are smart enough to know that sometimes the best thing you can do is stay in and do nothing. Hence why the Finnish vocabulary includes the word “kalsarikännit”, or “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear with no intention of going out.” Sometimes the smartest thing you can do is stay in, switch off Twitter and disconnect from the world.