productsvintage inspiration

Vintage Inspiration: Finnish Wall Hanging

by Amy Azzarito

Photo by Maxwell Tielman

This vintage inspiration is actually a new object based on a vintage technique: poppana. I had never heard of the technique before I stumbled upon the weavings in the market in Helsinki last September. I had one of those moments of crisis when you are faced with a purchasing decision while traveling, knowing that you will, in all likelihood, never be at this place again. My usual purchasing style is of the dithering variety, asking for every opinion and Googling for a better price before I pull the trigger. Even in the market, I think I came back to the weaving booth three times before I realized that I should bring one home with me. Then there was the color decision. I’ll spare you my agony, but I finally chose the one that reminded me of the colors of my favorite Finnish glasses designed by Kaj Franck in the colors of the sea.

Poppana was a weaving technique based on recycling, and it originated in Karelia (a region that I also visited), along eastern Finland and sharing a border with Russia. The technique was relatively simple: Recycled pieces of cloth were cut into narrow strips and were then incorporated into a nubby, newly woven cloth. The strips would serve as the weft and provide color and pattern. Originally, the finished poppana was used as a protective cover for household cushions, but because it was so durable and inexpensive, it quickly became the cloth of choice for bedspreads, floor coverings, door curtains and horse blankets. As Finland modernized, the technique and the cloth it produced were seen as old fashioned, but during the 1960s when many countries, Finland included, felt a nostalgia for their cultural past, the technique became recognized and respected as one of Finland’s indigenous art forms. — Amy Azzarito

If you want to see what others have brought home from vacations, check out Sneak Peek: Best of Bringing Travel Home.

Image above: Bludot Marble Coffee Table, $649 | Morten Table Lamp, $149 | Frances Palmer Vase, $150

Image above: 1. Mix Set of Servers, $120 | 2. Cubicus, $180 | 3. Triple Wrap Bracelet$50 | 4. Kartio Tumbler, Sea Blue$20 | 5. Vitriniini, $45 | 6. Emerald Studs, $75 | 7. Slicing Knife, Green, $30 | 8. Earrings with Oval-faceted Calcite$615 | 9. Dashing to Bootie in Deep Teal$34.99 | 10. Michael Kors Pendant Necklace, $95 | 11. Geo Thermos, $90

More vintage inspiration after the jump . . .

Image above: A snapshot of the weaver, Marjatta Laaksonen, at her Helsinki market booth. (My photography skills leave a little something to be desired!)

Image above: 1. Peace Treaty, $150 | 2. Toe the Line Idiom Bangle$58 | 3. Tart Server, $18 | 4. Trapeze Task Light$350 | 5. Chrysoprase Earrings, $88 | 6. Fernando Fish Clock, $150 | 7. Kartio Tumbler, Water Green, $20 | 8. Decorative Green Glass, $195 | 9. Graces Necklace, $84 | 10. Arden Chair by Jonathan Adler$1,595

Image above: Alexander Wang Classic Pocket Tee in Vine, $94

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  • That wall hanging is beautiful, as are all the products you’ve paired with it! Very Scandinavian chic, love the color palette too!

  • I have a similar style native american weaving from the 60s that I bought recently at a garage sale. It’s in great shape and I’ve been wanting to hang it up on the wall… I’m just not sure the best way to do so. How did you hang that one?

  • I learned something new today, thanks! I enjoy weaving and didn’t know about poppana. Love the simplicity of the one you got, by the way. I’m the same way for shopping, it’s painful but when you finally decide on something it feels SO good, doesn’t it?
    And I LOVE the Peace Treaty necklace, oh my!! I might have to make one for myself, just for fun :)

  • Thanks for the pick! I really like the Dashing to Bootie in deep teal and Alexander Wang Classic Pocket Tee in Vine! I may purchase them.

  • Love the poppana. My grandmother ha something similar and I always thought it was Native American-now I’m thinking it was from one of her trips to Europe. Love your picks as well!

  • Hi! Actually poppana is name for the table cloth and the correct name for the floor covering is räsymatto. It’s the rug that is made at same thecnique than poppana but the slices of fabric are wider. This way the rug will be thicker than poppana. Marjattas products aren’t so traditional design, but maybe more like 80’s and 90’s style. Nice to see some Finnish products here!

  • I have bought a Poppana coat from Marjatta some 15 years ago. I still use it. Just ageless fashion. Love the material.

  • Hi! I feel like is failing the ancor item (a icon of vintage people) from your vintage object collection and maybe a design Sinatra lamp. But I really fell the vintage an ethnic appeall of this post!

  • We can all create our own poppanas here in USA, too; as long as you have looms at hand… being originally from a family with Karelian step-grandmom, the poppana and the rug (rasymatto) techniques were both something I learned to make in 1980’s Finland. Now I have to check into the local Pennsylvania looms and get my rusty knowledge woken up again – thank you for the inspiring article!