Ville Leino

Ville Leino

I've gravitated towards the sea my whole life

If you come from Savonlinna in the middle of Finland's lake district and spent most of your youth and also adulthood in the ice hockey rink, the sea might not be the first thing that springs to mind. The founder of the Billebeino lifestyle brand and former ice hockey pro Ville Leino has, however, an explanation for his longing. 

"My father was a sea captain and later worked as a ship pilot in Savonlinna. I would sometimes join him on his sea travels. As a child, we also had a boat and we spent a lot of time on the water. Perhaps that is why I always enjoyed coastal cities, and for my whole life I've gravitated towards the sea. I like the sea, out of the natural elements I find it the most calming and it also shows you the power of nature. 

Leino sees his adopted hometown Helsinki through a maritime lens. "I don't really even visit Esplanadi or the rest of the city centre. I've noticed that my Helsinki is fully by the sea. I work, do sports, eat, sleep and spend most of my time right by the sea."

Leino moved around his whole adult life in pursuit of hockey. He started playing in Helsinki's Jokerit team at the age of 23 and has also lived in American cities such as Detroit, Philadelphia and Buffalo. "A city with no sea around it, such as Buffalo, has a different atmosphere. I take my passion for the sea so far  that when, for instance I visit Los Angeles, I will rather stay in Santa Monica than in Hollywood – because of the sea." 

"When I moved to Helsinki, the coastline was mostly dotted with dockyards and harbours, shabby metal piles. In Savonlinna, I got used to the idea that everything happens around the water. The opera festival, outdoor markets, even restaurants are always near the water. It came as a huge surprise that Helsinki's shoreline had no services. Now the situation is different." 

While Leino has lived in many locations in several countries, he considers Helsinki his hometown. "Helsinki is surrounded by the sea and the sea is an element you can't bring to the city. My summer cottage is also by the sea. I like the contrasts that evolve from the combination of straight architectural lines and nature. The Oodi library is a fine building but it is not out in nature and has no direct link to nature. I much prefer the Löyly sauna where wondrous nature and architecture meet – right at the sea." 

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