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Hel Yes! Stockholm

Cuisine meets design in a Finnish concept restaurant during Stockholm Design Week

by Richard Prime in Food + Drink on 30 January 2012

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On 7th February Stockholm welcomes design lovers as the annual Stockholm Design Week kicks off again. Timed to run alongside the Furniture & Light Fair, Finnish concept restaurant Hel Yes! will set up a special space on Skeppsholmen Island in the center of Stockholm.

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Hel Yes! first entered the design fray during the 2010 London Design Week, hailed as one of the highlights of the festival itself as it tied together the disciplines of food and design with a sophisticated site-specific installation.

With Helsinki having been named Design Capital of the World in 2011, Hel Yes! gets another chance to shine as creative founders, restauranter Antto Melasniemi, artist Klaus Haapaniemi and designer Mia Wallenius bring their diverse skills to the new location.

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London's Hel Yes! was focused mainly on food and design, but Stockholm's concept looks more toward the social aspects of gathering to eat, played out against neo-paganistic iconography devised by Haapaniemi, whose graphic forms of fauna and far-off galaxies will fill the 100-square-meter space. "Everybody on the team is interested in mysticism and Finnish pagan aesthetics," explains Wallenius. "The textiles create a vast architectonic element and are part of creating a unique cosmos."

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In the months leading up to the opening, the founders worked with Finnish choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström and his dancers at Helsinki Dance Company to incorporate key elements of interaction and movement to the latest iteration of Hel Yes! More than just dance, the heightened sensory experience builds sections of choreography into the cooking and preparation of the food. "There's no distinction between the dancers and the waiters. We're trying to create a logical entirety with the audience being a part of it—more of an event than a performance," explains Melasniemi. According to the chef, it's about more than just food. "I'm not so much of a technician but have found myself getting more and more into the whole experience and concept of the dining ritual," he says, explaining that when he eats out, he spends more time looking at the movement of the waiters, the sommelier's delivery or the angles of tables and chairs.

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As with the last Hel Yes! close attention to detail guides every aspect of the experience, from the special waitstaff uniform to the beer and vodka selection. Even the tablewear is drawn together from swap meets, in which residents from the Mylittala community are asked to hand over their old pieces from legendary Finnish brand Iittala and share the memories attached to each piece, in exhange for a free dinner. More advanced choreography fills the venue throughout the evening, including the introduction of an orchestra with a section of instruments crafted from whale bone. As for the food itself it's likely to be a true showcase of Finnish cuisine and ingredients by chef whose vision goes beyond the food itself and transcends into a spectacularly memorable dining experience.

Hel Yes!
7-11 February 2012
Eric Ericsonhallen, Kyrkslingan 2
111 49 Stockholm, SE

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