Tour Iittala & Arabia Design Centre Museum in Helsinki

Hello friends, how are you? I just had the honor to visit Finland, with thanks to who brought me there to give a lecture at their fair and to participate on a panel with experts in social media and design like , , and .

The ultimate cherry on top though was that Habitare further arranged for us to eat at some of Helsinki's best restaurants and they left their tour director, Annika Suomi, with us to share the city with her golden keys, contagious enthusiasm and fantastic energy level. Boy, did I love Annika - she just may be the best tour guide I've ever had in my life. She was also perfect with giving us time to look around and enjoy ourselves and though our schedule was full, the pace was perfect so we were not in vans very long and she didn't take us all over the country - we stayed in Helsinki and trust me, there was more than enough to do there. What a great city!


So now, let me tell you all about at the and my private tour that Annika arranged since I was the last of the group to stay in the city an extra two days on my own. My Arabia tour, of both the museum and the artists' studios, was wonderful and I'll never forget it.

is one of Finland's most respected and beloved tableware brands and has held this position for nearly 150 years. Finland has a very strong design legacy and Arabia is part of that, as a true pioneer of Finnish design. You can't walk into a Finnish home and not find something from Arabia there. Flea markets, second-hand stores, antiques dealers, eBay, you will find Arabia in all of these places in addition to shops all over the world.

Then there is the second iconic Finnish brand, Iittala. What started as a glass factory in , Finland, is also found in homes of design lovers globally, from glassware to kitchen cookery and decorative objects for other rooms in the home. I was invited to their glass factory but could not make it on this trip, though in the design centre on the 9th floor you could see some of the history of the brand, view iconic pieces and of course on the lower floor, shop for the gorgeous products of , including the beloved Alvar Aalto vase which I had the pleasure of also seeing very personally when I toured Aalto's private home in Helsinki just a day prior.

Would you like to see the Arabia building and particularly, the museum located on the 9th floor of the located at Hämeentie 135 in Helsinki? Of course you would! In a follow-up post, I'll show you the artists' studios too where some of the ceramics for Arabia are conceptualized and later, put into production.

The  Iittala & Arabia Design Centre  - in the museum on the 9th floor.

The - in the museum on the 9th floor.


Birger Johannes Kaipiainen, a great Finnish ceramicist and painter, did amazing work. A platter like this goes for around 10,000 Euros at a an antiques market today. His Paratiisi range is a well-loved classic of Arabia but personally, I love the original work they were modeled after best. Wow.

Birger Johannes Kaipiainen, a great Finnish ceramicist and painter, did amazing work. A platter like this goes for around 10,000 Euros at a an antiques market today. His Paratiisi range is a well-loved classic of Arabia but personally, I love the original work they were modeled after best. Wow.

Product timeline, very interesting to peruse.

Product timeline, very interesting to peruse.


While at Arabia on my tour, I learned something else. Book character by Finnish illustrator Tove Jansson, had their first products at Arabia with figurines, dishes and mugs releasing in the mid century. Today, is hugely popular, especially to Japanese tourists. In fact, whenever I saw Japanese tourists in the city, they were holding bags from Arabia or checking out in the Arabia shop with loads of Moomin branded products. I bought my son's first good quality silverware set after my tour, with Moomin on the handles, and he loved his gift when I got home. He proudly uses them each day since.

I hope that you have enjoyed touring one part of the Iittala & Arabia Design Centre with me today - the museum. Tomorrow, I'll share the studios were their artists create upcoming collections.

(Photography + Text: Holly Becker for cattledogs)


3 Ways To Style Your Home With Style Icon + Model Prints

Hello dearest cattledogs readers! It's here and I'm extremely happy to be back with my monthly column where I will be sharing my styling tips to make your home and daily moments pretty and 'Instagrammable'! I will focus on current trends, micro and macro tendencies, so you can expect to see a lot of what is currently considered 'Pinteresting'.


Today I would like to share with you fashion icon and model photography. I'm sure you've noticed (you must have seen it around!) that fashion prints, model posters, black and white magazine pages or one's own photography is a current a big styling hit. With b&w images, ranging from vintage shots of actresses to some of the most recognizable supermodels, appear in stylish homes being used as a great accessory to decorate walls, shelves, workspaces and even kitchen counters. A home’s style is defined by its details, because those little items are often what really makes a home personal and interesting.


Try styling your home with fashion icon/model prints, model photography, magazine cut outs, posters or you might try modelling in the photos yourself, wouldn't that be fun? It does not necessary have to be a high-end fashion photo, it can certainly be you in the photo in an interesting pose then converted to a black and white print.


What can we do with these prints in our home? Here are 3 suggestions:

1/ Elegant Look - the most elegant style is to frame and hang prints on the wall. You can't go wrong with that. Black and white is timeless. Fashion icons and beautiful models never go out of style so prints are a great way to introduce a fashionable, even a bit edgier, look at home. Try browsing Etsy and search for - you will find tons of posters to choose from. Some of my personal favorites include those from .

2/ Gallery Wall - Since framed model prints look great, why not create a gallery wall and group them together? Galleries are usually tied together by colors, frames or a theme - in this case models, beautiful ladies, fashion could be the theme - a great opportunity to reflect your personal style.

3/ Effortless Look -  Such prints are stylish on their own hence they look also great without frames, effortlessly displayed around the house. For example a print above your desk attached with washi tape, a photo taped inside of a bookcase or shelf, some on a mood board in your work space made from magazine clippings. This effortless look is my favorite way to display model prints, what about you?


All of these ways create a lived-in, homey look which we all love, that's why Instagram became so popular. We love to peek into someone's home to see a current mood whether that be their work in progress, a creative desk, a mood board, so something else.

Would you add something to this list? Do you like this micro-trend?

Have a great weekend and I'll see you again next month. - Agata

(Photography and Text: for cattledogs)

Easy + Beautiful Autumn Table Setting Ideas On A Budget

Hello dear cattledogs readers, this is with a seasonal table decoration for your next gathering. But first, it's been awhile since my last column posted. Summer "happened“ in the meantime, one could say, but I'm happy to be back to inspire your tabletop decor.


I can hardly believe summer is gone, can you? The temperatures in the morning here in Germany keep proving this a little more each day - Fall has nearly arrived!


I suggest that we bring some of the qualities of Autumn to the tabletop instead of mourning summer because I actually like the month of September! I like watching late Summer turning into Autumn, the change of light and colors outside, the abundance of flowers, fruits and greens at the farmers' market. And of course - how much we yearn for cozy hours to spend at home!


For my tabletop, I've combined several different types of tableware, grey glass, oak wood and linen napkins and a linen tablecloth for my September table to add a rustic twist to clear shapes.


Once again my decoration is inspired by the Scandinavian Style and my beloved porcelain with a floral pattern in black and white.


The flowers I opted for are Dahlias (of course!), small Lilies, Gypsophila, Astrantia, Snowberries and various grass.


As a small handicraft and DIY for you, I browsed my interior magazines for colors to match the table setting and made a simple leaf-shaped template and cut out a lot of paper leaves. Afterwards I sewed them together one by one using my sewing machine putting six single leaves aside for my guests as the place cards.

By folding the paper a little on the seam, you will give the leaves an even better look.


You can use the garland on a wall close to the dining table or to decorate the front door.


This is such an easy and effortless idea that additionally keeps your wallets safe (or allows you to spend more on flowers, haha!). And it is recycling, isn't it? I would say "upcycling" so I can brag a bit (smile).

I hope you like this month's column and I wish all of you beautiful, golden late Summer/early Autumn days! See you again next month!


(Text + Photography: Anke Illner for cattledogs)

Peek In On This Colorful Swedish Home

I am in Helsinki now but when I get back, I have to leave again and go to Sweden for work with the Swedish tourism board. I know, tough life. Right now, I have a few trips per month all the way until December 4th. Then, I'm home for a few months so I get a break and can be with my little boy again. I always miss him when I'm away, but grateful for Whatsapp and Skype so we stay close.

I love Sweden, and have only been to the west once so I'm returning and this time, to Gothenburg and some small nearby towns, too.

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With Sweden on my radar, I had to share the home of textile designer because it's filled with such great color and pattern. It's very personal and unique. It's a three story home located in Västra Frölunda, just outside of Gothenburg where I will be.

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This designer shares the space with her husband and three children, and though you can't see all of the rooms here, you can get a feel for the home with the vignettes and corners shown. Aren't her drawings and paintings above on her office wall just stunning? I love how her home reflects her obvious connection and love for nature. It's so natural, relaxed and typical Swedish - to me at least. Be sure to where you can view her wallpaper, textiles and more. She's quite a talented lady!

By the way, have you ever been to Gothenburg before? Any tips for me? I'll have 24 hours there alone, so if you can point me in the right direction, I'd be so happy!

(Photographer: for )

8 Plant Shops You Need To See

Hi friends! I'm in Helsinki at the moment shopping, touring a design fair and hanging out with new friends and bloggers who are touring along with me. It's really nice and a lot of fun to be in Finland for the first time - it's all just wonderful. While I'm out and about shopping (follow me on Instagram to see what I see along the way), I've been thinking about how much shops inspire me when I travel and how they give you a real sense of the city and those who live there, don't you think?


Today I thought we could go shopping together, only for plants. I think the plant trend finally got the best of me because I never cared to have many in my home before, but now I have more than ever before in my life! Like maybe 20 and for me, that's a collection!

My mother with her macrame planters would be so proud of me! I finally like plants and have learned to care for them. I can't believe I typed that.

Here are some charming plant shops around the world to check out for inspo today. I wonder if Helsinki has some good plant (or flower) shops? Do you know? Hmmmm....

1. Kaktus København, Copenhagen ( and ). I hope to catch a peek at this store when I go to Copenhagen next May. Will be fun to finally see it in person. Looks so cute. I love the idea of an entire shop devoted to cactus! Click on any of the photos above to enlarge or save. And don't the shop owners look so cute?


2. Botany, London (e and ). I'll be back in London in November so I plan to definitely hit this shop up! I love their pots, too!

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3. Plant Shop, Seattle ( and ). For those on the west coast USA, this looks like quite a heavenly spot for plant shopping, doesn't it? Anyone been before?


4. Wildernis, Amsterdam ( and ). I found these guys on Instagram and have been following them ever since. What a sweet shop. I will go when I'm in Amsterdam for in November.

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5. Forest London, London ( and ). This place looks so nice and classy for a plant shop, doesn't it? And they carry Aesop. I'm such an Aesop fan lately, you too?

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6. Plant By Packwood, Fitroy, Australia ( and ). Oh Australia. I love how many things from your country impress me and beckon me to come visit....

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7. The Green Depot, Western Australia ( and ). How cute is this??? Seriously!

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8. Niche, Boston ( and ). Sometimes I miss Boston with it's sweet shops and great places to eat. I have a lot of memories there! I never shopped Niche before, but it looks like a great plant shop to visit if you're in the neighborhood!

What is your favorite plant store and where is it? Please leave a link in the comments section below!

(Photography: Linked to shops above except for , and .)

10 Ideas for a Personal, Cozy Autumn Picnic

I'm delighted to begin the week with a photo shoot that I did yesterday in the forest near my house. I was with my friend Lilly, who makes a great model, and we had such a nice time working together in the Fall weather under a golden sun! I'm happy to share the results of our forest picnic with you today, which is in partnership with . I will share 10 ways to create a personal and cozy forest picnic for two.


First, a little background about this picnic. I thought since I live in Germany, I'd like to take the daily ritual of 4:00pm kaffee und kuchen (coffee & cake) and recreate it as a theme for a romantic picnic for two. I imagined a couple with a young child, who hardly ever go on dates because they are so busy with their careers and kids. How sweet and touching it would be to surprise your partner with a kaffee und kuchen picnic in a nearby green area - perhaps in the afternoon while the little one is with grandma for a few hours or with a babysitter. How nice to just escape and celebrate your love. To eat, read some magazines, listen to some music, chat...


For this scene, I've customized a , , , a , and - all from . I'll detail each below along with my 10 tips for a creating a lovely little couple's picnic. Are you ready?


1. FAST, SIMPLE, HOMEMADE. The first thing to do when you want to plan a quick picnic for two is to keep the food simple but homemade.

Why? Homemade shows you care and everyone appreciates something made by hand and usually one cake is cherished more than a spread of grocery store food. Make a cake or something else sweet that will fill your bellies but also be easy to pack and carry. Remember, you are only spending a few hours together, you don't need to bring a cooler and a wagon full of food!


2.  ADD A PRETTY PHOTO BLANKET. I love soft, warm blankets for picnics in the cooler months.

You can use like I did to customize a for you and your sweetheart. I suggest fleece so you can bring it home and use it later on the sofa. Maybe you can incorporate a photo into the motif that your loved one took, like I did below? It's a big photo of green apples from my husband that has meaning to him.



Next, you'll need to pack everything you need for eating and drinking but ONLY what you need, don't get carried away and overload your bags because carrying all that stuff around isn't how I enjoy going on a picnic. I prefer to bring exactly what I need: Glasses or cups, forks, napkins, plates, a knife if you need it for slicing, etc. Think of everything and pack it along.


4.  MELAMINE PLATES. I love the idea of using melamine plates for picnics because then I'm not throwing away plastic and paper each time I picnic.

I wish more people would pack and stop using paper products that immediately end up in the trash bin. For these plates, I also used photos that my husband took. Imagine how happy your partner would be to see their photos on plates? How thoughtful! And of course, you can use them over and over again for picnics later on and even at home for those casual pizza nights by the television.


5.  Have one, easy beverage. And a bottle of water.

I like to have one "signature" drink for a picnic and then, a bottled water. For this picnic, I went with coffee. Another tip when bringing coffee or tea is to mix in the milk and sugar first at home, then put it in a thermos. Don't pack everything separately, the less you have to bring with you the better. If you want to do iced coffee like I did, pack the ice separately in a small container that keeps ice from melting. You can also skip the ice and just do hot coffee or tea. I love iced coffee though and since September isn't cold enough for me yet to drink hot coffee at an afternoon picnic, I wanted to try iced coffee and cake -- and it was yummy!


6.  GLASSWARE. YES, REALLY. I never thought to use glassware at a picnic, but when I saw these thick and very sturdy glass mason jar mugs from Shutterfly, which you can customize with your own text, I was totally on board with GLASS.

Again, I like the idea of being able to use something over and over again versus throwing it away. After the picnic, I can use these cute for hot cocoa, beer, iced tea, cocktails or even a vessel to pop in a bouquet of flowers. My mugs say "Tee loves Holly" and "Holly loves Tee" (Tee is the nickname of my husband.).


7. LINEN VS. PAPER. Another nice tip is to bring linen napkins instead of paper.

Why? For a romantic picnic, cloth feels classy and nice. And less waste!


8. ADD RIBBON AND GREENERY OR FLOWERS. It's so easy to make your blanket look pretty with next to nothing!

You can pluck a few sprigs to add to your picnic scene. A few wildflowers, cloud berries, raspberry sprigs, or even some pine or leaves can look pretty tucked into the napkin with a simple ribbon. This takes two seconds but looks so nice, don't you think?


9. A STURDY TOTE. This is a must! Baskets are nice but for me, not practical.

For the perfect carry-all tote, I selected and customized this . On the linen bag the word Ausflug is embroidered and I chose brushed gold as the accent color since it coordinates best with my outfits. Ausflug is the German way of saying to take a quick trip, to sorta fly away for a bit (but not literally). It's like taking a day trip or running away for a few hours to take time for yourself.

10. ADD A SPECIAL GIFT OR TWO. I love to give little gifts to people whom I care for deeply.

For this picnic, you could customize a deck of cards or even a memory game so you can play together. For my picnic, I customized a with photos that my husband and I took over the years of our little boy, Aidan, as a gift. I added words the best describe our child as he is today at age 3 1/2. My husband really loved these!


Don't you think that parents always carry their children with them wherever they go, even when the child isn't around? They still come up in conversation and are always on your mind. That's why parents tend to give things to each other that often involve something that includes the children. A memory game is sweet for the child but also something you can play with them, so it's a nice gift to share with your family.


Another nice gift, which isn't needed for a picnic but is small enough to pop in your tote bag and bring with you, are using photos that your partner took. Imagine how happy they'll be to have something else in the home that's so personal! My husband really liked these, especially since he uses coasters every day on his desk for his tea or while having a drink during a film because we have nice tables in our home that we don't want to leave water rings on. Coasters are not the most modern home accessory, I know, but they are still good to keep around and to use. Didn't these come out so nice?

I'm so happy that you came on this little picnic adventure with me today. I hope my ideas have inspired you to think simply when it comes to entertaining but also, to try to personalize the things you buy so that they are more meaningful and lasting. Before this, I'd never in my life thought to put photos on anything other than my wall or in photo books, but now I'm convinced that adding photos to everyday things can add such a special touch, and warm the hearts of those whom you care for, too!

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(Photography: Holly Becker. Model: Lilly Oppitz)

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