Sunday, October 20, 2013

The story behind 'Dokkän, Oriental Decor'.


In the heart of Helsinki is a cosy interior shop called Dokkän. During our visit to Habitare 2013 we fell in love with Dokkän's products. We therefore decided to get to know the owners of Dokkän, Finnish Terhi and Egyptian Riham, and ask them several questions to find out more about the story behind Dokkän. Before you start reading the story do grab yourself a cup of coffee or tea as it sure is an interesting one!

Riham and Terhi. Guess which one is Finnish.

Five years ago Riham's husband got offered a job at Nokia. I know myself that it is hard to move to a different country and leave your family and friends behind. Moving to a different country is equal parts daunting and exciting. It is almost like a marriage: something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. The old represents the things you leave behind such as family, friends and the place you grew up in. Something new represents the new country, new things and new friends which lie ahead of you. The borrowed represents the new culture you have to adjust to and the parts of the new country you have to borrow in order to fit in and feel at home. And sometimes it makes you feel blue as you miss the things you left behind.

The things Riham misses most are the weather (for obvious reasons), her family and friends and the fact that you can lie on the beach in the morning and be in the mountains in the afternoon as it is so easy to travel around Egypt. She also misses the fact that when you visit family or friends you are always offered some food. Coming from Holland where visitors only get one cup of coffee and one cookie I actually think Finns are quite hospitable!

Luckily for Riham Egypt isn't that far away and she does travel to Egypt regularly to check on the merchandise and see familiar faces. In fact, Terhi and Riham are planning a trip to Egypt and Morocco in the future to check on merchandise so Riham gets a chance to mix business with pleasure. Perhaps it was because of this very reason that Riham decided to open a shop with Egyptian interior decoration items. 

Now you must wonder how Terhi and Riham met. I know I did. Around 10 years ago Terhi started living in Spain for several months a year. Terhi's husband and a business partner of his bought a villa in Fuengirola which is located in the south of Spain. The villa is called Villa Naranja as it looks out on an orange tree. As Terhi has an interest in interior decorating, Terhi's husband asked Terhi to decorate the villa and Terhi decided to decorate it with a mix of Scandinavian and Moroccan pieces. Terhi knew a reliable man in Southern Spain who sells Moroccan pieces and she started buying things from him. The mix was a success and Terhi's husband started getting interested in importing Moroccan interior pieces to Finland. Most Moroccan pieces are imported from Fes, Morocco.

Riham and Terhi met when Riham was planning to move to another location (Dokkän is located on Annankatu in the heart of Helsinki) and Terhi was interested in moving into Riham's shop. Terhi and Riham soon realised that their items were very similar and that they share a love for oriental decor. Terhi imports pieces from Morocco and Riham from Egypt. Terhi has a feel for what Finnish people want and Riham knows the story behind the products. The perfect mix for a partnership. They met in March this year. Two months later Dokkän opened its door.

We wanted to know about the name of the shop: Dokkän. It almost seems Finnish but the word is actually Arabic and it means shop. Riham wanted a name that means something to her whilst at the same time being relatively easy to pronounce for Finnish people. I do wish Finnish people would give their shops names which are easy to pronounce for foreigners!

Dokkän's clientele includes half-oriental people and people who have lived and/or travelled a lot in Oriental countries and are interested in adding oriental pieces to their Scandinavian interior. A funny thing is that they also frequently get Moroccan people trying to sell them their merchandise.

Dokkän's products have been featured in magazines such as Koti ja Keittiö (My's favourite!), Divaani, Plaza and several others. Their products are a mix of Moroccan and Egyptian products. At fist glance the products look similar yet on closer inspection are different. The material and patterns can be different and as all products are handmade there can be slight differences in colour and fabric. For me that is the charm of handmade products. Their handmade products include Moroccan crockery, beautifully intricate lamps which are perfect for the dark evenings ahead of us, leather pouffes, bags, slippers and Kilim. Kilim is a tapestry-woven rug or other textile with geometric designs in rich colours. Dokkän offers beautifully handmade Kilim pillow cases and placemats. The placemats were Riham's idea and her father in Egypt made them a reality. Customers can have Kilim mats and pillow cases made to match.

Terhi and Riham are looking into selling oriental jewelry. Riham has gifted Terhi an Egyptian necklace which is quite similar to Finnish design such as Kalevala but slightly more exotic. When we visited the shop Terhi had paired the necklace with Kalevala earrings and the mix really works. Terhi sure knows how to mix Scandinavian with oriental style. All Dokkän's items are handmade and therefore chic, unique and magnifique! Visit their shop on Annankatu and you too will fall in love with their handmade products.

On Monday October 21st we will celebrate our blog's first anniversary. Our celebration will include a raffle and Terhi and Riham generously donated one of their precious Moroccan handmade leather Marrakesh style pouffes for our raffle. Make sure you join our celebration by participating in our raffle for the chance of winning the handmade leather pouffe below.

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