In Finland there are five and a half million people and three million saunas. There's also at least one sauna in Belgium, built by designer Jonas Lutz for an artist Jonas met when he was setting up his exhibition in Helsinki. Because Jonas was Finnish, he was obviously the right man for the job. "I immediately said yes, at the same time realising I had no idea how to build a sauna. I attended one of these log house building courses to learn how to build a house basically using only a chainsaw", says Jonas, simultaneously trying to mimic the corner joints of a log house with his fingers.
Jonas Lutz grew up in Tammisaari, an hour's drive away from Helsinki, Finland. Now having lived seven years in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, he says he feels more Finnish than he ever did when living in Finland. He brings up the differences in living as an example. "The things that Scandinavian people choose to surround themselves with tend to be more cosy. Maybe because of the winter time, they have more candles, blankets and comfortable chairs. Windows are high up, people don't really see inside the homes. Those who will see your interior will be the people you invite to visit your home. Dutch people have giant windows on street level and showy centerpieces inside the home", he compares. But how is it in Jonas' home then? "A whole lot of prototypes from past projects, to be honest", he replies, "but I do think our home is more on the cosy side. I like things that are both useful and beautiful."
When Jonas was still a child they didn't have a shower indoors. The outdoor sauna was a place for bathing twice a week, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Sauna had solely a practical function. "When my parents finally installed a shower indoors it felt like living in a hotel", Jonas laughs.
"Back in the day people would first built a sauna so they had a place to live in and wash up, then they'd continue on building the main house", Jonas says. A place that used to be only for cleaning oneself up, sauna has evolved to be a place for a peaceful, almost meditative ritual where one washes themselves both outside and from within. Jonas' favourite sauna is one at his family's summer place, on an island not too far away from his childhood home in Tammisaari. "The sauna is not perfect, some flaws here and there and the heat disappears a bit but I love it still. The location for the sauna in the archipelago is unique and the scenery is beautiful. Building a sauna for myself is something I want to do someday", Jonas says.