“The environment is so beautiful in Hanko that it was natural for me to open the store here,” says Anna Fromond, co-founder of Cigale & Fourmi and creative mind behind the finest design destination of 2021. Housed in a 19th century wooden pavilion and curated with an inimitable Nordic sensibility, the shop puts this idyllic resort town at the southernmost tip of Finland on the itinerary of any design devotee.
Cigale & Fourmi specialises in artisanal pottery sourced from Southern Europe, with an expert selection of homewares from chic Danish sun chairs to hardy Fiskars garden tools complementing the offering. The business’s ethos lies in the name, which is drawn from the French fable about an ant and a grasshopper. “We have items for the two sides in all of us: the hard worker and the idler,” explains Fromond. “You can only find balance by making room for both.”
Fromond started importing ceramics in 2018, and had already built up a loyal clientele by running a pottery barn just outside Helsinki and an online shop together with her partner Christian Haglund. But the pair had been looking for a permanent outpost in Hanko and snapped up the striking seaside property last year. “It was built in the 1880s as a gymnastics space at a time when Russians and Finns were flocking to Hanko to enjoy the beaches,” says Fromond. Little has changed since then as holidaymakers from near and far arrive in droves each summer, but the locale was never suitable for its original purpose and had fallen into disrepair. Now, the heritage-protected pavilion has been respectfully restored to its old grandeur and will be open year-round.
This vibrant new business is a welcome addition to a town that has only become livelier in the past year, as urban dwellers have decamped from the capital city. And like all finest bricks-and-mortar, Cigale & Fourmi has a broader scope than commerce. “People can stop for a coffee after a stroll along the beach, maybe lounge in the hammocks for a while or play a round of petanque in the garden,” says Fromond. “I imagine this as a living room for the community.”