28 Apr '17

The photography of ‘Font and flavour’

Ahead of the launch of our first lifestyle book published by New Heroes & Pioneers, ‘Font and flavour‘, we talked to the book’s photographer, Milla Koivisto.

milla at NB-1 (1)

What is your connection with Nordic Bakery?

Although I am now based in Helsinki, I lived in the UK for 10 years and there were times when I felt a little homesick and was thrilled when I came across Nordic Bakery’s Golden Square store. It immediately felt familiar and reminded me of home with the minimalistic design and Iittala cups and plates and the wooden walls.

How did you come to be involved in this book?

I first learned of the plans to produce a Nordic Bakery book to celebrate the tenth anniversary when I was discussing my Kaiku project with them. I knew the collaboration would work well because like the brand, I am from a Nordic country, so I immediately felt that I understood what Nordic Bakery wanted to achieve with the visual look of the book.

How would you describe your style of photography?

I was brought up on a small island in the Finnish archipelago, so the Baltic Sea area has had a huge influence on my style. I am always intrigued by the natural world and just being outdoors in the wild fuels me with new ideas.

I am always trying to strip the unnecessary from my images. I am a big fan of simplicity and minimalism and want to let the ’emptiness’ speak loudly. You can say a lot with very little.

What can we expect from the book?

It was very important that the book encompassed a broad spectrum of the Nordic landscape, architecture and design in different cities in different countries as this is part of the Nordic Bakery story.

I travelled from the Finnish Lake District in south-east of Finland to the beautiful archipelago area in the very south. I visited a lot of natural sites and hiked in many national parks, but also spent time in Helsinki and Turku. I also shot in south Sweden, in Lund and Malmö as well as in Copenhagen in Denmark.

In Finland, I met with the local berry producers who supply their product directly to Nordic Bakery and visited Iittala whose beautiful cups and plates are used in the cafes. I also spent a couple very sunny days with Miisa Mink at her lake house photographing her for the book.

What were the challenges?

In the Nordic countries we have four very distinctively different seasons and a climate that varies from about -30 to +30 Celsius throughout the year. This big variation in temperature changes the character of the landscape drastically and it was important for us to get this across in the images, so we had to schedule shoots throughout the year to capture all the colours of the different seasons.

What have you enjoyed the most?

I always enjoy getting outdoors, packing my backpack and making an adventure out of a photography trip. You can never be certain what you will capture and you can never plan for everything. But I don’t mind that – I like the element of surprise.

One early morning, I think it was October – I drove to a lake in Finland. The sun was rising slowly and the whole lake was covered in morning mist. It was very cold and the ground was filled with small snow crystals, all individually patterned. The shore of the lake had these traditional red boat houses and the colours really came alive with the rising sun. That was a particularly beautiful memory.

I also really liked capturing Nordic Bakery customers. I am less familiar with shooting people, so at first, I was slightly out of my comfort zone but in the end some of these became my favourite shots. Cindy, Bianca, Amira and Efe were all very gracious with their time and told me all about their relationship with Nordic Bakery and let me capture a glimpse of their lives.

Photo credit @MillaKoivisto for NHP Publishing

What is your favourite photograph in the book and why?

I don’t think I can choose one photograph because I have always thought about the book as a ‘whole’ – a narrative which tells the story of Nordic Bakery.   I’ve set out to capture photographs that create a certain feeling, a mood and a message of everything that Nordic Bakery is and represents.

Can you share the story behind some of the photographs?

In the London chapter, there is a black and white photograph of two ladies sitting by a window table inside the cafe. This was a chance encounter. I was shooting the interior of the cafe and one of the ladies introduced herself, asked what I was doing and asked if she could be photographed. She had such a positive attitude and amazing eyeglasses and happily posed for me while telling me a little about her life as an artist. This was a great encounter – and it reflects the story of Nordic Bakery’s community.

What effect do you want the photographs in the book to have on people?

The photographs aim to capture stillness, silence, simplicity and a sense of slowing down.

I hope the book will evoke people’s curiosity towards the natural world. Maybe give them a sense of calm – they do say going to the forest is good for your health. I also hope it will open up the Nordic culture in general, perhaps show people places they would not otherwise have known of or access to visit.

Who will the book appeal to and why?

The book will have widespread appeal to anyone who is inspired by the Nordic lifestyle, whether they are interested in design, architecture, the natural world, the modern life with hints of tradition as well as of course the culinary aspect of Nordic Bakery. It will certainly interest Nordic Bakery’s customers, who are already fans of the brand, but will attract people who want to learn about the Nordics in general.

What are you working on next?

I am continuing work on the audio-visual Kaiku Project. I have just finished shooting a photo series and a small video for it. I am also starting a project with an environmental focus, but this is still in the early stages and there are more book projects in the horizon.

Milla Koivisto

Photographer of ‘Font and flavour’
Published by New Heroes and Pioneers.
Available in stores from the 5th of May