Designing the perfect urban escape: the story of Nordic Bakery

On the launch of a new book about the design, style (and food!) at the Nordic BakeryThe Idealist meets with Miisa Mink about designing the urban Nordic escape, the Scandi aesthetic of calm, welcoming warmth and of course their beautiful food. 

Font and flavour is the Nordic Bakery’s first lifestyle book and will be out in May. We’ve seen an advance copy and can report it really conveys the Nordic Bakery aesthetic and captures the quintessential elements of coffee culture, design and food. It’s filled with beautiful minimalist photography and the story of those behind the Nordic Bakery and some of their customers.

The face behind Nordic Bakery

The ‘face’ behind the business is Miisa Mink who wants to share her belief of the joy that comes from simple moments of calm and how the harmony of attention to detail fusing with freshly baked cakes and the smell of cinnamon buns coming from the oven can only ever be a good thing. Miisa, comes from a career in branding and design but is also a passionate baker. In 2008 she left the corporate life and became a partner in Nordic Bakery.

IDEALIST: Can you describe the Nordic Bakery experience for someone who hasn’t yet visited the cafe?

Miisa: Nordic Bakery is a beautiful Scandinavian style café coffee chain famous for cinnamon buns, dark rye and honest coffee.



A place of calm

When you step inside one of our four London coffee shops, your enter a place of calm with the welcoming aroma of coffee and cinnamon buns.   We’ve used each space in a minimalist way to create a space that is uncluttered in contrast to the frantic lives lead by Londoners.   There is no noisy background music and the experience is still and silent so that customers can enjoy a place where they can have a meeting or rest their mind.

beautiful design and honest food, thoughtfully served

IDEALIST: Was there a sudden moment that led you to quit your corporate life for the Nordic Bakery?

Miisa: No, but I had stepped away from the corporate world of international advertising and was living my life in a more balanced way.  I already knew the first Nordic Bakery café in Soho – I loved it for its silence and beauty and decided to get involved. I have loved helping it grow into the brand and community that it is today.

Baking is love

IDEALIST: What is it about baking that you love so much?

Miisa: My love of baking developed from an early age. I grew up in a foodie family. There was always fresh bread at home too, baked by my father who ground his own flour from whole grains bought locally.  Baking was and still is a social activity in my family and when I bake, a crowd gathers in my kitchen, drawn by the smell of fresh bread or cakes.



The Scandi aesthetic

IDEALIST: You have a very distinctive aesthetic at Nordic Bakery. How did that come about?

Miisa: The cool, northern aesthetic of Scandinavia speaks minimalist in every way and this is reflected in the very essence of Nordic Bakery. When the business was established, the goal was to create something of lasting quality based on a philosophy of no gimmicks, beautiful design and honest food, thoughtfully served.  No one else was doing it. Ten years on, people are buying into the Nordic way of life – crime dramas, literature, fashion, food and design.  

Nordic Bakery is more than a café or a brand.  It reflects a whole way of life where joy is allowed to come from simplicity not complexity and its ethos has never been more relevant than now.

IDEALIST: How do you want people to feel when they visit Nordic Bakery?

Miisa: I want people to feel that Nordic Bakery is their refuge and to feel welcome and relaxed when they visit us – like coming home.

The book

IDEALIST: Why have you chosen to do a book?

Miisa: This is our tenth anniversary and the opening of our new flagship store in Covent Garden marks a step-change for Nordic Bakery.  It puts us on the global stage.  So it seemed very timely to publish Font and Flavour as a celebration of the principles on which Nordic Bakery is based.  

IDEALIST: What’s in the book?

Miisa: The essence of the book enables you to lose yourself and be transported to a place where silence and beauty is evident.  The beautiful photography shot by Milla Koivisto captures the essence of the Norse people and the narrative of Nordic Bakery.  The book gives a glimpse into how our ideas are conceived and where we source our products with stories from my own life and those of our community of customers.    

IDEALIST: Who are your heroes both in the kitchen and in design?

Miisa: I admire Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall for his back-to-basics food philosophy and appreciation of pure ingredients, forest-to-plate recipes and his campaigning for the environment and the oceans.

My design hero is Kit Kemp for the unique interiors she has brought to Firmdale Hotels.  Even though her visual aesthetic is very different to Nordic Bakery, the underlying values of quality and harmony remain.

IDEALIST: What are your ambitions for the next 12-18 months?

Miisa: We are working to establish our flagship store on Neal Street, in Covent Garden’s Seven Dials district as the go-to place to take a refuge and enjoy a perfect cup of coffee and some hearty Nordic baking for people who work and live in the area and for those visiting. Further expansion may also be in the cards.

IDEALIST: What’s your favourite recipe?

Miisa: My favourite recipe is Nordic Bakery Date cake – a wonderful moist and sticky cake that is great with a cup of coffee for fika or for dessert.

IDEALIST: Is there anything you would do differently if you had your time over?

Miisa: I’m not one for regrets!



To find out more

To see more from Font and flavour, Scandinavian moments with Nordic Bakery, visit the publisher’s page here.

Thank you to @MILLAKOIVISTO for NHP Publishing for all photos.

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