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‘Leila’s Garden’: From Cold Cellar to Tropical Paradise

Meet the Client

When artist Tuula Lehtinen was commissioned to decorate a private spa and pool in the cellar of a 19th Century former Palace in Finland, one material immediately sprang to mind. Having discovered TREND artistic mosaics  at an Orsoni workshop back in 1999, she knew how effective they could be in creating unique, vibrant, and colourful images.

“I work a lot with public spaces and art in architecture and love the creative freedom of expression hand-cut mosaics allow. Feeling both rough yet sensitive at the same time, they have an amazing depth and breadth of colour and tone that play with the light to create an almost three-dimensional effect. They’re also easy to maintain and the colours stay true for years to come.”

A Place in History

Originally built in 1898 for the Head of Finlayson Factories, the Palace was acquired by Leila Parhankangas with the aim of restoring the building to its former glory. Part of the plans were to convert the old cold cellar to a private pool and spa. The client wanted to create a tropical feel to bring the space to life and gave Tuula free reign to translate that as she saw fit.

Finding Inspiration

Taking inspiration initially from Roman frescos, Tuula worked directly on the wall, freehand sketching, improvising, and allowing the imagery to evolve naturally. While the birds and leaves echoed Roman images, other parts were inspired by elements literally much closer to home:  the trees from her parents’ garden and the parking lot of a nearby supermarket; the seaweed from her summer cottage and the flowers from a neighbour’s garden.

The Finished Product

Covering 21sq metres of wall space, the project literally grew before their eyes. The original brief was for the back wall only, but as it started to come together, the client kept wanting more. Motifs and scenes were added to pillars and arches, continuing the theme throughout the space. It also gave Tuula the opportunity to combine TREND Artistic 1 x 1cm hand cut mosaics with their standard 2 x 2cm glass mosaic tiles, maintaining the integrity and quality of the whole project.

‘Leila’s Garden’ took a year and one day to complete, with the team moving in practically next door to make the most of every waking hour.

Tuula wanted to create a painterly effect that was both calming and alive with colour and has created a magical and timeless space. “I’m grateful to Leila for giving me this opportunity to express myself, to TREND for mosaics that allow such creative freedom and above all to my team of assistants for their patience and dedication. You can’t achieve this kind of mosaic on your own!”