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Metropolitans: Aino Kavantera, Designer


I am… a Finnish-born, London-based designer working across interior, exhibition and product design. I first came to London in 1996, in the midst of ‘Cool Britannia’. The city left such an impression that I just had to return. I enrolled in university the following year with the intention of returning back after a few years, but that never happened.


The area in London I call home is… The East End. My work-life unit is just minutes off Brick Lane in a discreet complex with palm trees on the courtyard and very cool neighbours – we call the place Melrose Place. I love it, and could not imagine living anywhere else in London for now.

I’ve got to have a meal at… Franze & Evans on Redchurch Street for its versatility. It’s tiny but you can have a business coffee, Saturday brunch and Sunday lunch there, and it always seems to tick the box! I love their breakfast with Tuscan sausage, Italian style beans, slow-roasted tomatoes and fried eggs on toasted sourdough.

I get my threads from… Brick Lane. I’m lucky to be based just off there. It’s a haven for vintage shopping and has an amazing weekend market full of rare finds. But my favourite vintage store is Beyond Retro, which also happens to be about a minute from my flat making it very tempting to shop there all the time! When in central London, I tend to make a beeline for the Selfridges Shoe Hall. It has all the brands under one roof and is definitely worth a visit during the sales!

To enjoy London’s nightlife, you should… Go to underground club nights hosted by Bad Passion and Lasermagnetic, they do some of the best parties in east London. If you fancy a tipple, head to Danger of Death  or Ruby’s Basement Bar –  the cocktails are amazing.

If I were mayor… I would add coloured cycle lanes on all London roads, each in different colour, so you could cycle everywhere. Can you imagine how beautiful the map would look like!

My favourite spot to check out art is… Raven Row in Spitalfields. The space is beautifully restored and their programme is well curated.

I’d kindly tell a tourist to…  step to the side streets to get a real feel for London. Lower Marsh is just minutes from the London Eye but you feel like you have escaped the city. Marylebone High Street is a stone’s throw from Oxford Street but has a true local feel to it.

The things I miss when I leave London are… The buzz. The energy. The diversity. The madness. The people.

My soundtrack to London would be…

London in the Rain – Variety Lab (Hotel Costes, Vol.4: Quatre) – The name says it all. Our university teacher used to tell us that London really looks at its best when it rains and lights reflect off all surfaces.

Todd Terje Inspector Norse – Reminds me of some good nights out and about in East London. Do catch Todd Terje if he is town as wherever he plays, the atmosphere is sure to hit the roof.

Check out Aino’s installation, “Wild About Ikura” featuring ceramic vases and lamps from her Ikura collection at Wildabout,  87 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R 5BX, running from September 17 to 29 2012 as part of the London Design Festival.

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