Finnish interiors brand Feathr has launched a wallpaper to mark the arrival of President Trump and President Putin in Helsinki for the 16th July summit. This special print, ‘Finland Toile’, signals ten traits, like those depicted above, which helped build one of the world’s happiest countries. Rolls of ‘Finland Toile’ will be gifted to both Presidents at the start of the summit, which will doubtless be as interesting as the earlier encounter between the Finnish President Sauli Niininstö and Donald Trump.
Guess again: ‘Toile’ isn’t French for ‘toilet’
Style-wise, the ‘Finland Toile’ wallpaper is a playful, Nordic take on Toile de Jouy with playful modern Nordic illustrations. ‘Toile’ is a decorating pattern with a white or off-white background, featuring detailed patterns, oftentimes pastoral themes like picnics or flovers.
Using this style, Feathr’s ‘Finland Toile’ displays the policies and traits that saved Finland from centuries of poverty, including equality, education and human rights.
Feathr’s web shop advertises colourways for Finland Toile in “Green is Good”, “Don’t See Red”, “It’s Not Black & White” and “Trade War Blues”. Feathr insists this particular design is available free to Presidents all over the world. Presidents tend to have large residencies, so if you have friends in high places, give that offer a go, and let us know if Feathr is good for their word in the comments below.
After all, in Finland, we appreciate honesty. That gives us the chance to ask ourselves whether we believe Finland’s recent governments have been truly committed to any of the wonderful things discussed here.
1. Enjoy sauna – naked
With 3.3 million saunas for a population of 5.3 million, sauna is a Finnish national obsession. It’s about more than just warming up on cold days. Sauna’s are usually naked and sometimes communal: they represent the stripping away of hierarchy, artifice and gimmicks to show 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, except for the absurd exceptions, like forcing sterilization on transgendered people.
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, a mind-boggling 179,584 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.
5. Encourage a free press
In the annual ranking by Reporters without Borders, Finland frequently gains top spot as having the freest press in the world (The US is ranked at 43), even if Russian spooks try to meddle from time to time. 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.” With excellent WiFi ubiquitous in public spaces, there’s never an excuse not to be up to date on current affairs, perhaps anonymously over Tor.
Hot tip: In case you have trouble reading books or the news doesn’t inform you on how to save the world, we have a little recommendation of good podcasts. Also, some countries, including the US, offer audio books for people with reading impairments, sometimes extending the offer from people with limited eyesight to potential readers with ADHD and dyslexia, just as Finland and Sweden do.
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. Maternity leave lasts up to 3 years, there’s shared parental leave with dads, excellent healthcare, respect within the workplace for working parents and that famous baby box. Combined it all adds up to giving the next generation the best possible start by empowering their parents to live rounded and fulfilling lives. Source: Save the Children’s World’s Mothers report, 2014.
7. 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. As long as it’s not about making smalltalk and eliminating loneliness.
8. 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 mothers. Finland also supports rainbow families with the same benefits as traditional families. Well-balanced families mean a well-balanced society.
9. Live the Finnish dream
“If you want the American dream”, wrote the Huffington Post in 2013, “go 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 on to create a progressive society 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 “kalsarikaännit”, or “the feeling when you are going to get drunk at 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 (while listening to our podcast episode on Finnish alcohol culture).
There we go. To put it in the words of Tom Puukko, Co-Founder of Feathr: “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.”
Needless to say, we agree with Tom’s sentiments although based on their achievements so far, we’re not holding our breath.