Category Archive for Art + Design

Goth Tulum! Valladolid folk art museum, sugar skulls, Mexican graveyard with Loco Gringo Tours.

Valladolid cemetery

Happy Dia de los Muertos — Day of the Dead! To celebrate, let’s explore the spooky side of Tulum, Mexico. (I was there earlier this year with Yukiro, and have been saving this special post until now.)

Yukiro and I enjoyed relaxing at Karisma El Dorado resort, but we didn’t want to leave the country without seeing a sugar skull or two.

We put our trust in concierge / tour company Loco Gringo, and they truly delivered. Our local guide Paulina arranged a perfect day that included a visit to a colorful Mexican cemetery, and folk museum with hundreds of Day of the Dead skeletons! 

mexican gravestones, tombs

Wherever in the world I travel, I seem to end up in a graveyard. It’s no surprise that my Goth friends and I are interested in how different cultures honor their dead.

mexico graveyard

In the ancient city of Valladolid, the tombstones are painted in bright, colorful hues. Many people think of cemeteries as fearful or depressing places. However, in Mexico, death is represented by smiling and dancing skeletons.

mexican tombstones

Every year from Oct 31 to Nov 2, Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) with skull facepaint, music and raucous parades. It’s believed that the deceased come back to visit during this time of the year.

On this special day, families tend to the graves of their loved ones. They leave offerings of bright sugar skulls, flowers, and the favorite food and drink of the departed.

goth graveyard fashion

Outfit details: yes, that’s my Scottish Fold cat peeking out from under my leather jacket!

My top is a gift from illustrator Lili Chin. She makes custom pet portraits that can be printed onto shirts and other products. If you’re interested in a custom drawing of your cat or dog drawing, check out her site.

tulum cemetery

This is not your typical orderly graveyard, with plots in a row. Each resting place is festively decorated in ways that celebrate the deceased’s personality and life.

mexico burial rituals

No two headstones were alike. Despite being a home for the dead, Valladolid cemetery felt like it was bursting with life.

vampire burial

According to local legend, a vampire is buried in this giant grey mausoleum

goth in cemetery

These bright coffins seemed to be inviting us to join the party. The decorative elements were a mix of Christianity and Mexican folk traditions.

mayan carving, sacrifice

We even spotted a sacrificial tribute to the ancient Mayans, who once ruled over this area (Tulum and Riviera Maya).

(Loco Gringo also took us to see the famous pyramids Chichen Itza and Ek Balam — read about it in this post!)

offbeat weird mexico cancun

Dancing with the dead. I wonder who lies beneath the hot pink grave…

colorful graves mexico city

Our guide Paulina answered all our questions about these traditions. I can’t think of a single Riviera Maya tour that will take you to the graveyard… but Loco Gringo is extraordinary, and tailored the day exactly to our interests.

gravekeeper ghost stories

Paulina introduced us to the “old graves-keeper” (who didn’t seem that old), and translated Spanish for us. He told us an eerie ghost story about the time he dug a grave, and felt someone grabbing onto his arm… eek!

mexican graves

Without Loco Gringo‘s expertise, we would never have visited this magnificent cemetery.

Valladolid folk art museum

We climbed back into the van, and our driver took us a short distance to Casa de los Venados: Valladolid’s folk art museum. 

The name translates to “house of deer,” hence the blue man mascot with the animal on his poncho.

mayan statues, carvings art

Loco Gringo suggested that I visit Casa de los Venados, since it has the largest private collection of Mexican folk art in the world.

We stepped into a home that had multiple rooms and courtyards filled with fascinating works.

mexican folk art collection

The hacienda’s owners, John and Dorianne Venator, began their collection decades ago. Today, their home has over 3000 pieces of art, and is open for the public to appreciate.

la catrina, day of dead

The curators have a fine eye for works that reflect the history and humor of Mexico.

To our delight, there was an extensive collection of spooky art. Devils, skulls and monsters — oh my!

devil spirits mexico scary toy

We had fun turning the dial of this toy, and watching the parade of demons, skeletons and coffins march into the mouth of Hell.

mexican nun on currency pesos

We saw many interpretations of sugar skulls (I got nail art from Glam Nail Studio to match).

Who is the nun holding a head? We learned she is Juana Inés de la Cruz, a nun and poet who is the face of the 200 peso note. (Perhaps she inspired The Conjuring 2 movie?)

frida kahlo mosaic mural

The folk art spanned all mediums and sizes, from the ancient Mayans to modern-day artists.

In one of the many mini-courtyards, I found a tile mural of Frida Kahlo, with a black monkey on her shoulder.

frida kahlo decorated room

Frida Kahlo is one of Mexico’s most celebrated artists, and a personal favorite of mine.

An entire room is dedicated to the female painter. How many Fridas can you count in this image?

devil skeleton mexican art

Yukiro and I had never seen so many Day of the Dead representations in a single museum.

We smiled at the Calavera Catrinas, or Dapper Skeletons. First depicted by Jose Posada in 1919, these elegant skull-people are always dressed aristocratically.

dia de los muertos musicians

In Mexican folklore, the dead are joyful during Dia de los Muertos. I wouldn’t mind rejoicing with these smiling musicians skeletons.

devil sculptures

Even the devils like to have fun. They’re represented as cheerful, naughty creatures, rather than as beings to be feared.

Casa de los Venados

Casa de los Venados’ owners did a wonderful job in re-vamping the original house. They added a fabulous outdoor area, with a glass bridge spanning several pools of water.

day of dead ceiling painting

Look up, and you’ll see these happy Mexican skeletons waving at you! I thought the undead pet was a cat, but it’s actually a dog wearing a bandanna.

Casa de los Venados Valladolid

I didn’t know much about Mexican folk art before visiting this museum. It was fantastic to see so many high quality works under a single roof.

tulum swimming pool

Cheers to this glorious pool, fed by multiple overhead streams!

Mexican folk museum Valladolid

I found a cat-face fountainhead to match my tank top.

la catrina skeleton painting

We ducked into the dining room and paid ode to La Catrina, the grand ol’ dame of death. 

Casa de Los Venados museum

At this point, our eyes were popping out of our heads — there was so much to see, in every conceivable space! Even the carved dining chairs and chandeliers were Mexican works of art.

day of dead skull figures

You’d think that a Goth lived here, with all the skulls and bones.

surreal mexican art

The corner table had a surreal display. I want that monkey for myself.

Mexican Folk art collection

These photos show only a fraction of Casa de los Venados. I encourage you to visit the Valladolid folk art museum, and see the rest.

weird mexico goth skulls

Muchas gracias Loco Gringo for being the perfect local guides!

We’re not exactly “regular tourists,” and would have been bored with a cookie cutter tour. But Loco Gringo took the time to learn about us, and tailored the itinerary to our dark fascinations.

bizarre tulum attractions

We hope you’ll reach out to them if you visit Tulum, Riviera Maya and Cancun, Mexico. 

Do you share our fascination with Day of the Dead? Have you ever dressed up and celebrated it?

PS: thank you TripHappy for interviewing me about my work in travel blogging and TV. I talk about my family heritage, inspirations and more.

Royal Mansour Marrakesh: world’s most luxurious hotel! 5-star Morocco riad, Michelin restaurant.

royal mansour morocco top hotel

Come aboard my magic carpet, and fly with me through a Moroccan fantasy hotel: Royal Mansour Marrakesh

My film team and I have been invited to stay at many wonderful places, but Royal Mansour was unlike anything we’d experienced. If you’re a dreamer like I am, inspired by the art and culture of Morocco, then you’ll understand why this five-star riad is so special.

(PS: don’t miss out on my current Japan travels, which you can see on my social media @lacarmina and linked in the top right sidebar.)

royal mansour marrakesh courtyard fountain

It sounds like a tale from 1001 Nights: Royal Mansour was the vision of King Mohammed VI, who employed over a thousand craftsmen and spared no expense to make this dream a reality. (Book a stay at this hotel & learn more here.)

most expensive hotel in world, morocco

My friends and I felt like Scheherazade, wandering the king’s palace in a daze. In a single picture, you’ll find a million details: the tiles, marble, gold, and carved arches.

phantom of opera fashion, dress

You can imagine the fun we had, exploring the riads and hidden lounges, and taking photos along the way. Each area was lit to perfection — such as this reception area with a glowing chandelier. 

The space made me feel like Alice in Wonderland, so I wore a romantic white dress by Liz Lisa (I’m currently selling it on my Depop, in case you would like it!). I played around with some color edits, to emphasize details of the architecture.

entrance luxury hotel riad morocco

Let’s start from the entrance. Marrakesh’s Royal Mansour is only minutes from the bustling Square of the Dead, but the atmosphere couldn’t have been a bigger contrast. We drove through peaceful, opulent gardens and arches until we reached the grand entrance.

An adorable “lobby girl” greeted us, wearing a red cap, military-style outfit and white gloves.

royal mansour rooms, riads

At Royal Mansour, guests don’t stay in rooms. They get their very own three-storey riad, or Moroccan house with an open courtyard.

My jaw dropped when I realized I had one of the 53 private riads all to myself. I stepped past a blue-tiled foutain, into a living room furnished with the finest furniture.

luxury modern design chandelier

The riad was fit for a Moroccan princess: a kitchen, rooftop terrace with a swimming pool, and my own elevator. Every detail, from the antique star lamps to the cushions with glass beads, was exquisite.

most luxurious hotel rooms morocco

My bedroom looked like an illustration from a centuries-old storybook — yet it had all the latest amenities including free movies. I spent an hour soaking in the giant marble tub that lies behind these curved wooden doors.

marrakesh royal mansour palace

Outside, the gardens were blooming with palms, purple bougainvillea and pomegranate trees. The landscape artist – Spain’s Luis Vallejo – also designed the gardens at the Alhambra palace in Granada (which we visited).

royal mansour architect, design

My long white dress added to the dreamlike feeling of the space. My platform sandals are these ones by YRU.

(I’m currently selling both of these items, plus more from my closet at discounted rates. Come take a look at all my sale listings, and email me if you’d like to get anything!)

royal mansour marrakesh reviews

The heart of the hotel is its main courtyard, a palatial arrangement around a cross-shaped fountain.

Mohammed VI began building Royal Mansour in the 2000s, and brought in the “crème de la crème” including architecture firm OBM and the French interior designers 3BIS. He spared no expense. The total budget of the project has never been revealed.

morocco beautiful riad, art hotel

He wanted Royal Mansour to be a tribute to traditional Moroccan craftsmanship — so he hired over a thousand of the country’s best artisans. Each tile was handcut and placed, and every screen was painstakingly carved.

Imagine the effort that went into the zellige alone (the starburst-shaped mosaic wall) in the photo above…

moroccan interior design, art

Around the courtyard, there were intimate curtained rooms filled with cushions and paintings. I ducked into this hidden space and closed my eyes, taking in the scent of jasmine and orange blossom.

I listened to birds singing from the room next door, water trickling through the courtyard, and the light strains of Berber music.

moroccan blue tiles, water fountain

Every corner of the hotel delighted our senses, particularly the open-air courtyards. We walked up the stairwell and found libraries, cigar and cocktail lounges.

Royal Mansour is opulence in its subtlest form. The hotel never feels over-the-top, and yet each detail is pure luxury.

moroccan windows, female travel instagram

The King brought together the highest achievements of Moroccan culture in a single place: interior design, paintings, sculpture, gardens, food.

royal mansour hotel luxe

The cigar room was a perfect example of the hotel’s understated luxury. At first glance, it seems like an old-fashioned gentleman’s lounge.

But then you notice the film-quality lighting from handmade lamps, and the shelves of rare cognacs and cigars. (All photos by Borderless Media.)

royal mansour moroccan restaurant

We had the dinner of dreams at one of Royal Mansour’s restaurants, La Grande Table Marocaine. It’s overseen by Yannick Alléno, a chef with three Michelin stars. 

top restaurant marrakesh morocco

Seamless service, by servers in white gloves. They poured water over our hands as a washing ritual, and served us fine Moroccan wines — above was one of the best glasses I’ve ever had.

moroccan appetizers, molecular gastronomy

We started with our new favorite appetizer, a spread of Moroccan salads with honey and spices.

In the center, we had a selection of pastillas, or savory pies wrapped in crisp pastry. I’m still dreaming of the spinach and cheese one.

morocco clay pot tagine cooking

It was hard to choose our main courses, which were based on Moroccan tradition. Tagines, couscous, Moroccan gnocchi, fish served in clay pots. As expected, everything was 5-stars. If only we could have ordered the whole menu…

We loved the desserts with a molecular twist, including an orange blossom concoction with citrus caviar that burst in your mouth.

royal mansour desserts, pastries

It was around my birthday… and the staff surprised me with these Grand Budapest-worthy cakes.

The hotel has a clever underground tunnel system that lets staff enter and exit the riad without disturbing your peace. One of them delivered these delights at the exact right moment, and then scurried back into the tunnel like a genie. Amazing.

marrakech hotels 5 star lavish

I hope the doors to your imagination are open, after this peek inside Royal Mansour Marrakesh — which deserves its title as one of the leading hotels of the world. The riad just re-opened after a summer renovation, and the gardens have become more enchanting than ever. Learn more and book this hotel here.

marrakech palace bahia

I leave you with a few shots by Joey Wong of Bahia Palace in Marrakesh, built in the late 19th century by a former slave who rose to become the Sultan’s Grand Vizier.

morocco courtyard harem bahia

Bahia has a 2 acre garden and harem, decorated with these intricate Islamic reliefs.

ancient moroccan palace bahia

The detailing live up to the palace’s name, which means “brilliance.” Isn’t Moroccan architecture magnificent? I’d jump at the chance to come back and see more of the country.

If you’re planning a trip to Fez, Marrakesh and surrounding cities, check out all my travel tips and articles here. And watch me explore more of Royal Mansour in our Morocco travel video. To book a stay at my riad and see prices, click here.

PS: You’re welcome to Share and Pin these photos, if you felt inspired!


Copenhagen’s Superkilen urban design park! Hipster Norrebro cafes, AC Bella Sky Library restaurant.

superkilen modern hip design hill lines

Strike a pose in Denmark!

I’m vogue-ing in Copenhagen’s remarkable Superkillen, which means “big wedge.” Have you ever seen an outdoor public space as super killer cool as this?

purple hipster goth hair, dyed dolls

Built in 2012, this park / playground / multi-use space celebrates the cultural diversity of the Nørrebro neighborhood. (Superkilen’s address: Nørrebrogade 210, 2200 København, Denmark)

(And it turns out to be an exceptional place to take portraits with photographer Joey Wong.)

nu goth tumblr outfit post

My bug-eyed oversize sunglasses are House of Harlow 1960. Leggings are Yohji Yamamoto – Y-3 and Adidas.

I love my spider jacket to bits. It’s this exact Black Widow bomber by Disturbia. This dark, nu-Goth label also makes a similar skull jacket and Lucifer jacket. 

(Click the images below to get your paws on these designs:)

superkilen park, Big Superflex architects

This award-winning park is the brainchild of Topotek 1 + BIG Architects + Superflex. The Norrebro district is home to residents from dozens of nationalities, and was once a gloomy and gritty part of Copenhagen.

disturbia spider widow bomber jacket

Working with the local city council and businesses, the designers transformed this derelict area into a joyful, avantgarde park — which celebrates the cultural diversity of its inhabitants.

superkilen skate park ramp, Topotek 1

Superkilen is super-sized: 30,000 square metres (320,000 sq ft) in total. From a bird’s eye view, it’s a splash of color and lines that feels integrated into the neighborhood.

The public park has three main areas. I’m standing in the Red Square, which is dedicated to sports, recreation and modern lifestyles. 

nu goth strega occult witch clothing

Closeup on the back of my Disturbia spider print jacket. My tie-dye blue dress is also by this brand. Hair is by Stephanie Hoy of Sugar Skull Studio in Vancouver.

(You can shop my Goth wardrobe directly from me. Email me if anything I’ve listed catches your eye.)

superkilen playground copenhagen denmark

The red floor swoops up into a ramp for skateboarders. The multi-functional rubber surface can be used for all types of activities: ball games, parades, even skating rinks in winter.

norrebro design cool park architecture

I saw teenagers shooting hoops, and families playing games. Your imagination is the only limit for how you can use the free space.

superkilen round swings, play ground

Welcome to my office: a row of groovy circular swings!

The architects brought in equipment and art from all around the world, to represent Norrebro’s ethnic mix. There are slides from Chernobyl, swings from Iraq, a playground from India…

la carmina goth girl gothic fashion blog

… and a mural of Chilean president Salvador Allende, by the famous street artist Shepard Fairey. 

(My leggings are Yohji Yamamoto Y-3 x Adidas.)

superkilen boxing ring fighting

Superkilen has well-designed spaces for all kinds of sports. After being in a TV show with heavyweight champ George Foreman, I couldn’t resist getting in the boxing ring.

(My sandals are these exact Torpeda slides by Sorel Footwear.)

high kick, martial arts

I might not be able to throw a strong punch… but can master the Hong Kong high kick! 

Mimers Plads, superkilen lines

This section of the park is known as the Black Square, or Mimers Plads. Locals meet up around the elegant Moroccan fountain and Japanese cherry blossom trees. 

urban design park copenhagen denmark

These tables are made for backgammon and chess players. The entire striped space is tailored to hanging out with friends and family.

patterned buzzcut undercut hair

One part of the surface curves up into a big mound. I watched a guy perform bike tricks on the hill.

I’ve literally got eyes on the back of my head… A shaved skull under-cut, thanks to stylist Stephanie Hoy!

super kilen diversity designer park

I’m impressed with the way Superkilen incorporates unconventional objects from all around the world into the design. This dentist and moon neon sign came all the way from Doha, Qatar.

japanese octopus slide playgroun

Darth Vader, is that you? This black sculpture is actually an octopus shaped slide and playground, very popular with children. It’s from Japan, as you might expect.

red square superkilen park

Hola, Allende! Benches from Brazil, litter bins from the UK, random signs advertising Chinese beauty salons and Russian hotels… Superkilen succeeds in illustrating the wonderful diversity of this Copenhagen neighborhood. 

acrobat on rings, silks

Enter the green park, a zone for nature and fitness. I stumbled upon this mesmerising performance on silks and rings.

denmark workout fitness parks

Form, function, tentacles. What more can you ask for in an urban community space?

satan graffiti, satanic mural

We always find Satan, wherever we travel.

riding bicycles copenhagen

Don’t miss out on Superkilen, when you come to Copenhagen. If you like to cycle, you can rent one of the public bikes with tablets and WiFi attached to the handlebars, for easy directions.

norrebro hipster restaurants

Norrebro is known as the city’s hipster area. I walked around and enjoyed observing the street life and modern architecture.

There’s nothing like Scandinavia in the summertime. No wonder the Danes always are at the top of the “quality of life” rankings.

grod porridge cafe copenhagen

In Norrebro, the street Jægersborggade is lined with cool cafes. Stop by GRØD, the world’s first cafe dedicated to porridge! This rustic hideaway also serves curry rice, risotto and other porridge-y options.

norrebro bikes, buildings

I found a shop that sold cacti, and another dedicated to fungi. Copenhagen is a cyclist’s city, and you’ll find bikes at every turn.

copenhagen torvehallerne food market

We continued our stroll to a giant food hall / farmers market called Torvehallerne. Vendors sell all types of food under the glass structures: chocolates, oils, cheeses, breads.

denmark smogasbord open sandwich

Smørrebrød, or open sandwiches, are a Danish speciality. Traditionally a lunch staple, you can find very creative and colorful versions of smorrebrod at Torvehallerne.

paleo primal restaurant denmark

Tbis market also holds the world’s first Paleo restaurant. Avocado, meat and berries are on the primal menu at PALÆO Copenhagen.

coffee collective, copenhagen best cafe

Thumbs up to The Coffee Collective, which also has a cafe in Norrebro. These roasts are prepared in the superior pour-over method, and the beans come from ethical sources that improve the living conditions of coffee farmers worldwide.

ac bella sky building modern architecture

Spectacular food and architecture appear to the theme of our Copenhagen trip, wouldn’t you say?

We bit into both at AC Bella Sky, a sensational structure that looks like something from the future. This Marriott property is the largest hotel in Scandinavia, with tilting towers designed to maximise the sky-high views.

futuristic cool architecture design copenhagen

Designed by 3XN Architects, this is “Nordic cool” design at its coolest. The sleek white/glass exteriors are simple yet functional, and have a literal twist. Inside, the designers used natural materials like oak and walnut, to help the guests feel at home.

library restaurant, ac bella sky

AC Bella Sky has several fantastic dining options. We sat down at Library Restaurant, which was warmly decorated with dark woods, Le Klint lamps and shelves of books.

In this easygoing space, we dined on a beautifully presented appetiser of salmon lox with local vegetables, paired with delicious sauces.

copenhagen design restaurants

Home-style, nostalgic favorites are on the menu, and there are lots of options for vegetarians and people with food allergies. Our main dishes came with generous amounts of salads and roasted vegetables, and our waiter helped pair every order with wines. Library was a wonderfully relaxing dining experience.

ac bella sky hotel marriot

Isn’t the AC Hotel by Marriott – Bella Sky a marvel? If you’re coming to Copenhagen, you can book a room here on Expedia or on

copenhagen boats, harbour

More Copenhagen to come, including a look at the famous Nyhavn waterfront lined with boats.

hip travel tourism københavn

All photos by Joey Wong. (These images were taken from the viewpoint.)

Superkilen Topotek 1, BIG Architects, Superflex

Isn’t Copenhagen cool? Thumbs up to this Scandinavian city — a must-visit!

fashion blogger copenhagen denmark

My only regret is that I only had a few days in København. I’ll have to come back ASAP to see more.

(PS – If you liked my clothes in these photos, you can shop them with a click below!)

Eero Aarnio furniture exhibition in Helsinki, Finland! Moomin stores, Loyly sauna restaurant, Design Museo.

nu goth fashion blogger style

A dark, cute welcome from Helsinki, Finland! Land of death metal and modern interior design. I think I’ll fit in quite nicely, don’t you agree?

On my first day in Finlandia, I went to the Design District and saw a groovy Eero Aarnio exhibit (he’s the inventor of the Ball Chair). I stopped by the Moomin and Marimekko shops, and ended up at a restaurant/sauna overlooking the waters, sipping herbal gin and tonics.

strega witch occult tumblr, pentagram dress

But first, coffee… and the outfit of the day. The “Noir” sign behind me happened to match my look.

– I’m wearing a pentagram dress by Black Milk (who also make this Game of Thrones dress).
– My striped platform shoes are by Le Babe, who also makes these black pumps. My kawaii bag looks like a Totoro sprite, but it’s by Mini Cream in Hong Kong.

disturbia spider bomber jacket

I love this spider jacket so much. It’s this exact Disturbia Black Widow bomber. The brand also makes a jacket with a skull on the back, and one with a rainbow Lucifer.

Click below for these clothes and more from Disturbia:

brown line friends small lamp

And who is this cutie? It’s the Brown (Line friends bear) lamp, which just arrived from my friends MrMaria

This kawaii character gives you a hint at my next destination… To find out where I’ll be, read on to the end of this post.

pentagram dress, dollskill model

From our suite at Scandic Hotels, it was a easy walk to the major districts of Helsinki. I found a park with tall tombstones under grey skies. This city seems to be made for Goths!

block by dylan, helsinki design restaurant

The Finns are known for their modern interior design and architecture. My filmmakers and I had brunch at Block by Dylan, a perfect example of the hip, minimalist Scandinavian aesthetic that we saw all over the city.

We sat by the huge windows that overlook the harbor and Old Market Hall. I smiled at the graphic artwork that peeked out from the layered woodblock walls.

finland minimalist modern design cafe

Block by Dylan serves breakfast, lunch and brunch buffet-style. This gave me a chance to try a bite of everything. I am still dreaming of the Finnish berries, tiny and rich in antioxidants, which I ate on top of mango quark. Nordic Europe’s dark breads and smoked salmon are also beyond compare.

napue gin tonic cocktail, finland

The friendly manager surprised us fizzy glasses of gin and tonics. I’m holding one of the best (and prettiest) G&Ts you’ll ever get to try. The cocktail is made with Napue, a world-famous local gin infused with botanicals, and garnished with cranberries.

eero aarnio design museo retrospective, museum

Our good mood got even better when we arived at DesignMuseo, Helsinki’s design museum. They’ve gathered the most extensive collection of Eero Aarnio works, and put them on display in a playful space. (The exhibit ends on til Sept 25, so I hope you’ll catch it if you’re in town.)

I’m a longtime fan of Eero Aarnio, a Finnish designer known for his mod furniture designs from the 1960s onward. Above, I’m sure you have seen his Puppy chair design.

eero aarnio pastil chair, tomato

To fit the “Swinging Sixties” feeling, DesignMuseo put his works on giant Roombas! These platforms spin around and move across the room, reacting to your movements. (You’ve got to see this in action, so here’s a video of me walking through the exhibit.)

Thanks to the rotating disks, I got to see Eero Aarnio’s Tomato Chair and Pastil Chair from every angle.

eero aarnio mod furniture exhibit helsinki

Do you recognize the space-age Ball Chair above? It also comes in a swing version (which I later got to sit in).

Eero Aarnio became an international sensation with the release of the Ball chair, in the mid 1960s. I personally always wanted one of his Pony Chairs, which kind of looks like a bear. 

60s eero aarnio posters, design

Eero Aarnio broke conventions about how furniture should look and feel. His mod designs are all about curves, fun and imagination.

For the first time, I got to see his rare original sketches, and retro images such as this girl sitting in his Pastil Chair.

pony chair, eero aarnio design district

One of the rooms highlighted the production process,  and how he molds materials into geometric forms. To this day, Eero Aarnio continues to create new designs from his studio, including toys and furniture for children. 

(I’d go on a ride on his Pony Chair, any day!)

artek eero aarnio interior design

I walked through the other floors of the Design Museo: there was a feature on innovative interiors, and a permanent gallery of Scandinavian furniture and home objects throughout the years.

The gift shop is a must-see. Eero Aarnio brings his signature aesthetic to everything from licorice boxes to watering cans. (His furniture is available for sale worldwide; browse below to learn more.)

marimekko store, esplanade park

The museum is located in Helsinki’s Design District, which is a joy to explore. I encourage you to walk around and pop into the various local stores, to admire the avantgarde furniture.

And you can’t miss Marimekko, the famous Finnish designer with locations all over the city.

marimekko shop, helsinki finland

This large Marimekko store is in Esplanadi, a central esplanade and park.

Like Eero Aarnio, this Finnish home furnishings and fashion company made waves in the 1960s. Marimekko’s bright, simple designs — often featuring stripes and flowers — are recognizable worldwide.

cute moomin stores, helsinki

But Finland’s cutest character… is beloved Moomin! Finnish illustrator/writer Tove Jansson created the Mumintroll, a white hippo-like creature that lives in the Moominvalley with equally adorable friends.

moomin gift shops, finland

When I saw this pastel-colored store near Esplanadi, I couldn’t resist going in and giving Moomin a hug. I later visited the mascot’s store in the Forum shopping complex, and picked up some souvenirs.

(You can find the addresses of the Moomin stores worldwide, on their site. There’s a Moomin cafe in Japan, too — remember when I went?)

Moomin Shop Forum helsinki

The Moomin store in Helsinki’s Forum Mall has a wide selection of goods, guarded by the mischevious Mymble’s daughter.

(My favorites are these Moomin bowls, cute mugs and these colorful wallets.)

Don’t worry — if you aren’t anywhere near Scandinavia, you can still get Mumintroll goods online. Check it out below:

loyly restaurant bar sauna, helsinki

We were in Finland in August, meaning that the sun didn’t set until 10pm!

This gave us plenty of time to relax over dinner at Löyly, a recently-opened restaurant and sauna. There’s a huge patio, giving an Viking view of the waters.

Löyly sauna, wood architecture

Saunas are big in Finland. It’s part of the culture and lifestyle: a way to unwind, with family and friends.

Loyly is an all-in-one destination, encased in this contemporary geometric wood structure. You can sweat it out in a traditional smoke or wood-burning sauna, and cool off by diving into the waters below. Then, head to the restaurant section for a hearty meal and drinks.

finland sauna design, modern patio loyly

The cocktails once again specialize in gin and herbal mixtures. Loyly’s menu takes an environmentally-conscious approach: all the meats are local, and free-range or game. We tried the reindeer meatballs with lingonberry jam, and a creamy salmon soup: magnificent.

goth spider bomber jacket, disturbia widow

At Loyly, it’s easy to pretend you are a Viking, with these epic views from the terrace that stretches out over the sea.

(I’m wearing this exact Disturbia spider bomber jacket. This label also has a skull version, and a Lucifer jacket.)

pentagram dress, witch nu goth fashion

What did you think of my “noir” adventures in Helsinki so far? (All photos by Borderless Media.)

brown mrmaria line bear lamp

Finally, here’s a peek-a-boo from my new Line Friends Brown bear lamp, by the Dutch designers MrMaria!

They also make the Miffy lamp that I own, as well as other cute animal and character lights (see the full collection on Mr Maria’s site).

brown bear children's lamp

As you know, I’m a long time fan of Brown, the poker-faced bear from the Line Friends app. (Remember when I visited the giant Brown in the Harajuku store?)

mr maria cute bear lamp

I can’t help but smile when I look at MrMaria’s latest lamp. They’re a playful design studio based in the Netherlands, specialising in modern, minimal and kawaii home decor. (It’s no surprise that I love their works.)

The small Brown lamp is perfect for my side table, and will match well with my XL Miffy Lamp.

modern minimal kawaii lamps

As you can see, the perfectly round head and details are impeccable. This is top craftsmanship, with safe and warm dimmable LED lights, and options for international power connectors (so it can plug into any type of socket).

Brown comes in a large size as well. He’d look great in a child’s bedroom, or a minimal-modern apartment like mine.

Cheers to MrMaria for producing such delightful works, filled with heart and imagination! This new release is magnificent, and I can’t wait to see what they create next.

brown line friends mrmaria lamp

Line Friends originated in Japan… and you guessed it, that’s where I will be next! I’m so excited to travel all around Japan, with JRailPass. I have unlimited access to trains, so I’ll be in Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Koyasan (Buddhist temple retreat!) and Osaka.

tokyo japan gothic club night poster

If you’re in Tokyo on Saturday, Sept 24 — I invite you to party with me at Midnight Mess, Tokyo’s longest running Goth night! Mistress Maya throws the best Goth parties in the city — as you may remember from past blog posts. The crowd is wonderfully inclusive, and you’ll recognize a lot of familiar faces from this blog.

Dance with me to EBM, Gothic, Industrial music at Bar Shifty in Shibuya, from 10:30pm to dawn. Find out more about the “Nightmare before the 14th Anniversary” event here, and hope to see you at Midnight Mess on Sept 24!

Stay tuned to my social media @lacarmina to see my train travels in Japan!

occult leather jacket, gothic tumblr

And more from Hell-Sinki to come… steampunk bars and pirate cafes await…

(If you enjoyed the fashion and design in this post, you can shop it below.)