Visiting the Finnish Ambassador's Penthouse


Privacy is one crucial part embedded into the interior space at the Finnish ambassador residence. This is where Ambassador Päivi Hiltunen-Toivio lives in a dreamy blend of Finnish adornments within a Japanese two-storey penthouse, overlooking Gelora Bung Karno stadium and its surrounding high-rise buildings.

PHOTO BY Bagus Tri Laksono

Sprawled atop Senayan apartment, Finland Ambassador Päivi Hiltunen Toivio’s residence exudes modern sophistication and elegant living. Her home is a recharge station of the city’s hubbub, located in one of the most exclusive spots to indulge Jakarta’s skyline. Apart from that, it is also a sanctuary for some of Finland’s biggest names: Marimekko, Iittala and Harri Arabia; where they are beautifully blended into the dazzling Japanese modern interior. Wearing the Finland’s sweetheart Marimekko dress, Ambassador Toivio walks us through her second home in Indonesia.

In 2015, prior to moving to this luxurious sanctum, she was placed in a colonial style house on South Jakarta’s Hang Tuah street. “It was difficult to find another house at that time. Later, I found this penthouse, which I believe it’s a great choice. Aside from its strategic location, I love this house because of its modern look.” Entering the two-storey apartment leads you to two openings that connect to kitchen, two living rooms, dining area and rooftop terraces. The first opening allows you to enter grand living room. Overlooking the city’s breath-taking view, the grand living room is built with floor-to-ceiling windows, thus enabling spatial exploration with natural lights.

Meanwhile, the lounge holds reception and buffet area that can accommodate up to 100 guests. Harmoniously adorned with a white coloured scheme sofa set, the area is pervaded with Finnish artworks decorating the walls and coffee tables. As we explore the living space, our eyes are fixed on a painting hung by the stairs. This ambassador’s favourite artwork is a striking ultramarine abstract painting dominated in Finnish blue. A large glass coffee table is neatly placed at the centre of the loveseat set, which faces another Finnish abstract painting. What makes this part homey is that the painting is hung on a light coloured wooden panel, which depicts the magnificent nature of Finland.

Ambassador Toivio says that Finnish artists and designers have at least one thing in common, that is nature. While pointing at the aforementioned painting, she gestures saying, “Nature has a huge role in our artworks. Inspirations coming from our nature are translated into artworks, from paintings and furniture to buildings and fashion.”

On the other coffee table lies four long gleaming candlestick stand glassworks by Finnish sculptor Timo Sarpaneva, who is known for his utilitarian design. “In Finland, glasswork industry is very innovative that we produce the fnest classical-themed glassworks such as this Sarpaneva candlestick to the edgy ones,” the ambassador says while walking to a smaller living room that separates the hallway with her rooftop terrace.

She then takes a block LED-lamp designed by one of Finland’s most important designers today, Harri Koskinen. “This is an example of the innovative one,” she says. “The block lamp of Koskinen is one of my favourites of Finland’s innovative design.” The block lamp is also part of MoMA’s permanent collection in 2000 and is produced based on Finnish design flair of austerity and simplicity. Towards the dining room, a large Indonesian weaving-like artwork covers some parts of the hallway. It is another Finnish innovative piece by textile artist Ulla-Maija Vikman, who specialises in painting viscose threads, resulting in a weave effect that features vertical and horizontal elements when it is stretched like a warp.

The dining room is a private space for diplomatic banquets. While the interior is rich with elements from the wooden panel to the low rectilinear seats, the presence of contemporary glassworks of fgurines, vases and candlestick stand underscores the presence of eclectic Nordic design. On the wooden shelf, crystal glass birds by glass designer Oiva Toikka adorn the top table along with the latest collection of Finnish home interior design brand Iittala. The ambassador says that crystal glass birds are one of the fastest-growing handmade collectibles. “Glasswork industry is huge in Finland. If you pay a visit there, you will find many famous factories all over the country.”

Finnish functionalist architect Alvar Aalto designed some of his work particularly for Iittala. As the ambassador further tours us, she says that the brand has been branched out into producing timeless staples. Exiting the dining room to the hallway, below the threads artwork, another bird glassworks are being displayed. These beautiful bird glassworks denote the advancement of the Finnish creative industry. “Design, fashion and architecture belong to the creative industry. For us, it is important that we develop them based on technology today,” she says. “Not only that, we create an innovative design, but we take care of our environment because it is our source of inspiration."

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Banyubening Prieta
Banyu has been a contributing writer to The Jakarta Post, Sorge Magazine and Metronome Indonesia after graduating from Parahyangan Catholic University with a degree in international relations. She is the owner and co-founder of the Jakarta-based organic restaurant and healthy catering business Burgreens and the co-founder of Suazad Media.