Harriet Style Director and myself have just come back from Helsinki, which is gearing up for a year of celebrations to mark its World Design Capital status. The trip was as inspiring as it was freezing (and the sea was frozen, to give you an idea of how freezing it was).

What did we find? Design in Finland is truly democratic. Just as I might place ‘design’ items on a pedestal, regular Fins expect them to be part of their everyday lives. We ate in all manner of cafes and restaurants and every time we lifted up a fork or a plate to check, there was the name Iitalla or Arabia. Made in Finland and used in Finland. We had a very interesting conversation with Pekka Timonen, director of the World Design Capital, who pointed out that Finland is only 200 years old and has never had a monarchy, so well-designed items haven’t filtered down from the aristocracy or mean to say something about your wealth or status. Sounds lovely.

Visiting the historic (and very much still active) Arabia Factory, above, was a highlight… click through for the delights we found inside.

Mo, acting news editor

Couldn’t you just eat these? Oh, and look out for the Maribowls in April’s Livingetc.