Anneli Fleming-Brown is good at doing Christmas; something she puts down to her Scandinavian roots. Her mother was Finnish, her father Scottish (hence her business name, Scofinn) and she grew up spending summers in the family’s ancestral village, deep in the countryside north of Helsinki. She still visits as often as she can.
The clean lines and simple aesthetic of Scandinavian design have strongly influenced Anneli’s own work as an illustrator and textile designer. Inspired by her Finnish grandmother she studied woven textiles at Central School of Art and then, as a post-graduate student, Illustration at St Martins. Her designs have featured in magazines, greetings cards and on fabrics for the likes of Habitat and Crate and Barrel, and, with advances in digital printing, she’s enjoying seeing her work appear on an increasingly varied range of products (earlier this year she was commissioned to create a bespoke glass kitchen splashback). For our cover she’s gathered together all sorts of Christmas essentials, with a nod to the great outdoors, “of course you’ll see the logs, pinecones and berries featured in the pic as we Scandinavians love a bit of foraging in nature at any time of the year!”
The Nordic influence is also evident in Anneli’s beautiful home, where an air of understated Scandi elegance prevails. When I visit, she is busy chasing an order for her printed tea towels and melamine boards, ready for her Christmas Open House: Northern Lights at 29 Lancaster Road. It promises to be a very festive affair. She has been busy making exquisite three-dimensional stars from paper-thin Birch bark raided from her Finnish uncle’s woodland. (Her cousin is bringing extra supplies for the open house – along with hand-knitted socks.) She’s also a “fiendishly obsessive” baker and will be getting up early each day to make fresh batches of fragrant Korvapuusti (those delicious cardamom buns), as well as traditional gingerbread stars, sweet and savoury biscotti and panforte (“the most glorious thing you’ve ever had”).
Anneli joined in with Artists’ Open Houses for the first time last Christmas and was slightly taken aback by the success, finding the experience to be both exhausting and “a lovely boost” after working alone in the studio for so long. She’s invited the same artists and makers to join her again this year, with a couple of new additions. As well as her own Scofinn designs, you’ll find ink drawings by Brian Britton; coastal Sussex scenes by Julie Ingham; scented candles by Maison Moth; leather bags by DNA; slip-cast ceramic heads by Peter Slight; wool, silk and cashmere scarves by Alexander + Crofts; gold and silver jewellery by Martine Jans, plus hot water bottle-covers, handmade soaps and – of course – her cousin’s knitted socks.
Even if you’ve had your Christmas shopping wrapped up since August, it will be worth a visit if only to soak up the festive feels with a coffee and fresh Korvapuusti. Hyvää joulua!
Artists Open Houses, weekends until the 8th December. scofinn.com aoh.org.uk