How to redesign the busiest café in Finland

Since the recent refurbishment Café Tori has continuously increased its sales.

Did you know that Finland’s busiest café is located at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport? Interior Architects Fyra was given the honour to provide the interior design for the café that has over half a million customers each year and is open around the clock on each day of the year.

It all began when SSP Finland, the company behind Café Tori, wanted to renew and refurbish the cafeteria and streamline its functionality. They had noticed that almost two thirds (58%) of people travelled alone which meant that in a table for four, there would always be three seats left unused. It had also become evident that the number of air travellers would not decrease. In the meanwhile, the most popular restaurant in the airport needed a bit more of the warm welcoming atmosphere that can be found in the traditional market places in Helsinki.

Fyra participated in the tendering and won the contract.

 

Market place atmosphere

The essence of the concept of Café Tori was found instantaneously. The aim was to create a café-restaurant that would be friendly and approachable, and where everyone can sit back and take a breather. Café Tori is not a wine bar serving fine dining but a welcoming place with a certain kind of market place atmosphere like only Helsinki has (tori means market place in Finnish): muted orange resembling the stalls in the market square in the Helsinki harbour, wooden tables with blue and white checkered tablecloth motif emblazoned on them, and an elaborate canopy reminiscent of a gingerbread house covering the cold display stands and counters.

A finishing touch is added with a quaint cobbled floor, panelled fixtures resembling the wooden crates on the market stalls, and with artwork by Mikko Reponen from brand design agency Werklig, depicting market places of Helsinki.

Luggage can be hidden away

Functional use of space was the key in this project. The fixtures are covered with a panel that absorbs noise and feature also recesses where luggage can be hidden away. There are places to suit every need: rustic tables with benches, charming little metal tables like those you can see in market places, practical bar tables, coffee tables and charging stations for mobile devices. Another insightful idea was to ensure that the staff can easily refill the shelves and sales counters without having to constantly apologise and disturb the customers while doing it.

The new Café Tori was opened in July 2016.

“We are very happy. Tori looks more spacious and appealing than before and the number of customers is increasing. We enjoyed working with the people at Fyra and they always came up with solutions to every problem we had. We have been recommending their company and will be happy to do so also in the future”, says Jussi Laakso, Marketing and Business Development Director at SSP Finland.

Photographer: Sampsa Pärnänen

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