A year ago we profiled Helsinki-based design studio Kokoro & Moi, catching up with co-founders Antti Hinkula and Teemu Suviala right after they’d set up their second location in New York. Founded in 2001, the studio was steadily expanding, putting its colorful, geometric mark on projects around the U.S. as well as in its home country. At the time, we described their aesthetic as a beautiful combination of “bold colors with busy typography—think Marimekko with an edge.”
Kokoro & Moi’s latest designs are just as loud and energetic now, if not more so than they were a year ago. Recent identities have featured cascading, fluid shapes nestled in tightly defined grids—think Alvar Aalto for the 21 century. This new work has taken the internet by storm. It seems like every time I refresh the “Most Appreciated” page on Behance, the studio’s shimmering work is positioned right at the top of the page. In light of this, I caught up with Hinkula to see how the studio has been balancing working internationally while staying true to its unequivocally Finnish design roots.
Having an international location as well as ties with its country’s aesthetic history made the studio the perfect choice for branding an exhibition about the construction of the Guggenheim Helsinki, a global art institute finding a new home in Finland. The exhibition presented the work of the six architecture finalists who were competing for the design job. “There was no certainty about who would win or even if the actual museum would be built,” explains Hinkula. “That’s why we wanted to convey the idea of temporariness and incompleteness.”
The resulting design is joyfully fragmented and jumbled. Illustrations evoke the floor plans of different proposals, and six opposing color palettes reflect the six possibilities. “We wanted to create a kind of ‘candy store of contemporary architecture,’” says Hinkula.
Kokoro & Moi worked on another architecture-related identity for Poseidon Helsinki, a company that’s inspired by the functional dream of modernism. A hand-painted logo amongst geometric, mechanical forms sought to “give a human touch to the identity, kind of like it was the signature of Le Corbusier himself.”
For Hello Ruby, a children’s computer game that teaches kids about programming, the studio created hand-made type cut from paper. The design suggests a DIY approach to coding that’s almost craft-based, an activity that’s easily accessible for young minds. Vivid colors and a tumbling kind of energy make the identity stand out.
Kokoro & Moi has its own particular, special brand of Helsinki design; its aesthetic is firmly rooted in local history, but much like the Finnish classics, it’s a studio with global reach.