Just as the name of our blog “mylittletreasuresoflife” already tells, we want to share treasures of different aspects of our life with our readers. But we do not only want to entertain and inspire. Furthermore we want to also show how much effort it costs to have and live those treasures. For us its about feasibility and compatibility. We want to mainly devote and focus on the topic compatibility and want to involve and show also other perspectives. Simply, because we do believe that we all have to deal with that topic in our lifes and circumstances at some point.
I got to know Aino Korhonen a while ago now when her precious little baby “nievaknitwear” was starting to bloom. Back then she wrote me how her little familybusiness developed and formed and i immediatly knew that this was not just a quick idea, but that her little family business was a huge dream of her. A labour of love.We started to support each other and cooperated. By then i knew she is honestly striving to improve her work. She was asking for honest feedback when i tested her precious knitwear on my girls and for myself. And yes, i even had to tell her some critical points that she thankfully received and took care of. My favourite pieces of her collections are the kids snowdrop sweaters my girls are wearing constantly all year round.i hardly have to wash the soft wool because they don’t really get dirty, which is such an important point for me when being outdoors a lot. Working together with Aino has been nothing like pure delight like when I took photos for her spring/summer collection this year. I so enjoyed it. And i really came to like her, her attitudes, her eyes for beauty and simplicity. Now if i made you a bit cirious about this wonderful finnish artist and soon to be mama of 3, have a look at her site, where you can see her work:
So lets see and hear what Aino’s thoughts on compatibility are. Aino Korhonen gives us a valuable insight of in which areas of life that topic affects her and how she deals with it.
If you hear the word “compatibility”, in which areas/aspects of life does it play a role for you?
Compatibility – a state in which two things are able to exist or occur together, side by side. For me, and us as a famliy, this is a concept that we have grown more and more fond of over the years. Maybe first it was out of necessity, but later on it has become a way of life. We do not master it without problems, maybe we don´t always even enjoy it, but it has become a valuable lesson for enjoying the everyday.
We live in a city with no relatives close by, and just these two facts have defined our everyday compatibility a lot. We can´t call anyone to come and help in a short notice – in a normal day or week it´s just the four of us. Because we live in a city our home is not big and we don´t have a huge yard where the kids could easily explore, we have to do a bit of extra effort to take them around.
Our sons are 8 – and 5- years old (and we have a third baby due in December), so a lot of the routines evolve around school – and daycare timetables. We take them and pick them up everyday, and feel lucky to live in a walking distance from schools.
Especially in the afternoons we have a choice of taking maybe a bit longer route home – stopping at a park or by the sea, walking, talking, calming down, maybe having a little picnic – it´s a chance to incorporate gentle exercise, fresh air and nature into our daily city life. We chose a school and daycare that are within a walking distance from home and have opted out from hobbies that would require long transportation to another part of the city. We move around with bikes or by foot in any weather (there´s no bad weather, just wrong type of clothing, right?) and hopefully it will instill an active mindset in our kids and encourage them to use a car only when it´s really needed. They are active users of their neighbourhood and all that is has to offer, not just watching it from a car window while being transported from door to door. When I was a child I lived on the countryside with long distances, so I have an appreciation for this ease of moving already from a young age.
I guess our approach to compatibility in it´s simplicity is to address the ordinary things we do every day – whether it´s a product or an action – and give them a special feeling: seeing them as an instrument, which helps as thrive so that the simple experiences can be the best possible for all of us.
In professional life as well, compatibility means a lot for me. I have the chance to work from home (which is not always great, of course) and manage my own schedules, giving me the flexibility in this stage of life for example to leave earlier to pick up the kids and then continue working after they have gone to sleep. Our living room table is my office table as well as a place where my son does his home work, they build legos, draw and so on. At the moment my boyfriend also works from home once a week, and this gives as a rare chance to have lunch together and have some much valued time just the two of us – even if it´s just us working side by side in silence.
Which of those aspects challenge you the most these days?
I do feel challenged to work from home at times. It can be difficult to concentrate if it´s messy around etc. Also, the work always follows since you can´t close the office door on Fridays – most of the times I don´t mind, and I think it´s good for the kids too, to see and be part of this kind of environment, but sometimes it would be nice to really take a break and separate home and office space. Our home is quite small and as much as I would like to be a tranquil and well-arranged place all the time, the reality is not that 😉
Most of the times I enjoy living in the city and having everything at a walking distance, but since I am a country mouse living in the city, I can find it stressful at times: the people, the noises, all the construction work constantly around us. I grew up right next to a forest, so also the effort of “going” to nature and not having it on your backyard feels hard at times. Luckily Helsinki is a rather green city and we live close to some nice parks, islands and the sea – it helps.
Compatibility often has to do with short and narrow ressources (e.g. time, money, strength,…) and with conflicts (e.g. interests, valuation, requirements/demands,…). Can you give them/yours a name?
Yes, well living in the city is expensive! We have a relatively small apartment and we don´t own a car or a summer cottage (although I would love to have one! The cottage I mean). We have to keep an eye that we don´t accumulate too much stuff and we´d rather spend money on good, ethical organic food than car insurances. Travelling with public transport/ by foot /walking we have learned to pack very little. Most of the times I actually enjoy the challenge of small space and travelling with little, looking for just the essentials and editing our belongings to the most needed ones.
And of course in our growing family we can´t always please everyone but have to settle by agreeing to meet each other halfway. My oldest son is now 8,5 years old and starts to be very influenced by his friends and the school environment, both in good and bad things. He´s growing up and I have to learn to let go, but often these discussions (what someone else is allowed to do daily, what “all the others” have etc.) can be very tiring and demanding. On the other hand, he is still so small that most of the times, even if he complains first, he is happy to spend time with us, whatever we do.
In relation to that topic, whats most important to you? So important, that you are willing to shoulder/accept unpleasantness?
The certain flexibility we have in our everyday at the moment due to work conditions and living arrangements. It is definitely not the most profitable way of living but more about prioritising the things we do every day. Paying attention to detail. Comfort, functionality and everyday beauty – both in my family life and design work. Not waiting for the holidays but enjoying this day with my children, seeing them grow and learn, listening to their little stories about their day, having the time for it. Lighting a candle for that messy breakfast table every morning. Working with people I respect and admire, creating products or ideas that will hopefully enhance other people´s everyday life. Upgrading the ordinary, not constantly looking for the extraordinary – I am not a fan of anything flashy.
What helps you currently with the solution of these conflicts? Which strategies did you develop? Are there any tools or products that help you with it?
We are always looking to improve and that is part of the fun I think, brainstorming new possibilities within the restrictions. It is a work in process. With kids, we try to listen carefully everything they have to say and really think what is best for them as individuals as well as for us as a family unit. We do a lot of everyday things together as a family, even if two adults are not really needed. We don´t constantly divide and calculate responsibilities and fight for “me-time”.
In our neighbourhood we have our own little spots in the surrounding nature where we often spend an evening or a day to relax and get away from the noises and traffic.
Productwise, everyone in our family has a good backpack to be able to carry their share of things (we use Häglöfs for kids, Patagonia and Fjällräven for adults). Good bikes for kids so that they like to use them (nothing too heavy or too big), at the moment the boys use Kokua and Islabikes Beinn. At home I love the simple plates and bowls from Teema series by Kaj Frank for Iittala that are perfect for any occasion or age. I like to use natural, simple, washable and multifunctional pieces – recently I purchased a length of beautiful linen from Not Perfect Linen that I think was originally meant to be a tablecloth, but we use it also as bed sheet, curtain or sofa cover. The garment cases from Muji are so good for packing compactly and sticking to essentials only. The kid´s don´t have any fancy clothes, but all and everyhting is for everyday use. Comfortable and easily layered weatherproof outdoor clothing for all seasons is a must to enjoy the Northern weather: during winter we live in down jackets from Peak Performance (so light, so warm) and during milder seasons, when it´s wet, cold and windy we love to layer with cotton and wool or fleece under shell jackets and pants from Häglöfs or Marmot. Naturally, I am a huge fan of wool and wear wool knits all year round – I prefer lightweight, high quality pieces because a jacket is a must in Finland – I don´t like to feel stiff or restricted by too heavy clothing.
If you would have three free wishes, what would you want and wish for your future?
Of course health and wellbeing for my family is the most important, everything starts there. My very own little studio would be lovely. And I wish we would be able to spend more time with my boyfriend´s relatives who live on the other side of Europe and whom we see way too little.
Thank you very much Aino for letting us use your insight and your personal view/handling with that topic.And for those precious photos of yours.