How to Embrace the Heat and Allow Sauna to Clear Your Mind

How to Embrace the Heat and Allow Sauna to Clear Your Mind
The searing heat of sauna can clear your mind, say these Nordic designers. (Image: Getty)

It’s time to open your mind and clear your head with some scorching temperatures, because IKEA has partnered with popular Finnish brand Marimekko to create a collection that celebrates sauna culture — and the designers reckon Australians could benefit from the practice.

The collaboration was announced at the H22 festival in Helsingborg, Sweden, and Lifehacker Australia got an early look at the first product — a shower curtain covered in giant rhubarb leaves — which won’t hit IKEA stores until March 2023.

It’s the first time Marimekko has designed a unique print for a collaboration. The collection is called BASTUA, which is an expression for sauna in Småland, where IKEA was founded.

BASTUA - IKEA's collaboration with Marimekko celebrating sauna culture
The first print from IKEA’s collaboration with Marimekko. (Image: IKEA)

You might be wondering what rhubarb has to do with sauna. Well, the designers explained that in Finland, where many people have a sauna in their backyard, rhubarb plants often grow around it.

At the launch, the designers spoke lovingly about the sauna experience in Finland, Denmark and across the Nordic region.

“Sauna, it is a room you take your time and contemplate your mind. You recharge your mind and body. It’s a place to be quiet and contemplate yourself,” Marimekko designer Minna Kemell-Kutvonen said.

Fellow Marimekko designer Sami Ruotsalainen said when it comes to sauna you leave all job titles at the door.

“There’s no titles, there’s no role, you just be yourself,” he said.

I was intrigued — how can Aussies embrace this love of sauna heat when it already gets to 47°C for us in summer?

“For me it’s totally about breathing and taking the heat in, not work against it,” Henrik Most, creative leader for IKEA of Sweden, said. “There’s also that moment when you start longing for that you can actually run out of the sauna and you can dive into the ocean.

“There’s a lot of dopamine that gets produced, so you get this happy feeling when you have been in the sauna, at least I do.”

The trick is to start low in the sauna.

“I’m really bad with really hot sauna,” Ruotsalainen said. “I’m normally at the countryside where we have this type of wooden sauna, you use the wood for heating it up. I’m usually the last one to go, because I love the afterheat, what is left there, I love when it’s moist.

“I’m not there sitting high, but I’m normally sitting quite low. There are normally three steps, so I’m either in the middle or the lowest one.

“My father is the one who is always up there – you really have to heat up the sauna for him. He loves it and I can’t understand it at all.”

The Finns admit they could spend up to two hours enjoying sauna, jumping between the searing heat and the cold water.

“I like the high heat also and it’s a fantastic feeling but I like to go outside and take a little bit of fresh air,” Kemell-Kutvonen said.

“What I do quite often is I open the sauna window the same time I’m sending this water to get this strong steam and I open the window in order to have this contrast, this warm and cold. It rests my mind, absolutely.”

Unfortunately, IKEA doesn’t have any plans to create flatpack saunas just yet.

Log in to comment on this story!