Dezeen Magazine

Helsinki World Design Capital

Helsinki is named as World Design Capital 2012

Dezeenwire: the Finnish capital Helsinki was yesterday named as World Design Capital 2012.

Helsinki was chosen above Eindhoven in the Netherlands, the other city on the shortlist of two. More info about the winning city's programme on the World Design Capital 2012 Helsinki website.

City image is courtesy of Shutterstock.

Here's a press release from the organisers:

World Design Capital 2012 Helsinki embeds design in life

Helsinki will be the World Design Capital of the year 2012. The designation was announced by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) at the Icsid World Design Congress 2009 in Singapore on 25 November 2009.

“This is a magnificent achievement for Helsinki. It is an important recognition for us and our collaborators Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Lahti, as well as for all the participating organizations and individuals. We have received a unique opportunity and will be taking every advantage of it, for both enjoyment and good for all,” says Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen, accepting the World Design Capital 2012 designation at the Icsid World Design Congress 2009.

The title of Helsinki’s bid for the designation was Open Helsinki – Embedding Design in Life. The concept expressed by the title will form the basis of Helsinki’s ambitious programme for the design year 2012.

Altogether 46 cities from 27 countries applied for the designation. An international jury first shortlisted Helsinki and Eindhoven of the Netherlands and then awarded the designation to Helsinki after careful consideration.

The World Design Capital project will bring a large number of design events and a great deal of visibility for the Helsinki region. Programme planning and preparations begin immediately.

“We will invite all citizens, enterprises and organizations in Helsinki, as well as visiting design professionals and enthusiasts, to participate in the preparations and the events of the design year 2012. This is a major challenge for us to use design in Helsinki and in the other participating cities to further the development of our cities from the social, economic and cultural perspectives, as the World Design Capital project states in its designation criteria,” Mayor Pajunen says.

“The work begins now. The effort will extend well beyond one year and one city. The World Design Capital 2012 project will support the long-ranging development of the entire region. The project will also strengthen our role in the international community.”

Mayor Pajunen commends the excellent co-operation between all players in the bidding process that earned Helsinki the designation. The Helsinki bid was supported by the Finnish government, many schools and universities, and design enterprises and organizations.

“We had a great consortium, and the same players, complemented by many others, will collaborate to put together the events of 2012. Finland and Helsinki have grand and internationally renowned design traditions, and this new recognition for Helsinki demonstrates that we are pioneers in design and in concepts for high-quality urban life.”

Mayor Pajunen points out that design should be seen from a broad perspective. “Our goal is to build a better city and to improve our quality of life. Among other things, design-oriented thinking can be used to reform public services. The basic values of good design include user-friendliness, sustainable development and enjoyment.”

Helsinki will be the third World Design Capital, following Turin (Torino, 2008) and Seoul (2010). The World Design Capital is a biennial designation given to one city at a time.

The collaborating cities in Helsinki’s World Design Capital project, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Lahti, will fully participate in the planning and execution of the design year’s programme.

Espoo Mayor Marketta Kokkonen says that the year serves as an excellent foundation to launch the new multidisciplinary Aalto University and to build the university’s international standing. “The World Design Capital year 2012 will also strengthen Espoo’s vision to build the capital region’s competitiveness on the three pillars of arts, sciences and economy. The major development projects in Tapiola and on the western extension of the metro rail system, the construction of the Suurpelto district, and even the Espoo hospital project and the ‘living-at-home’ concept for the elderly, all require shared efforts in city planning and service design aimed at a high quality of life,” Mayor Kokkonen states.

According to Vantaa Mayor Juhani Paajanen, Helsinki’s designation as World Design Capital 2012 helps to increase the recognition of the capital region throughout the world. “Vantaa emphasizes good city planning in the already existing Kartanonkoski district and in the development of new housing districts along the future Ring Rail Line. The Marja-Vantaa area will be an excellent example of integrating contemporary planning principles with ecological building practices.”

Kauniainen Mayor Torsten Widen says that he is happy and proud of Helsinki’s designation: “We have chosen design as one of the competitive strengths of the Helsinki region. It is clear that the design year 2012 and the preparations for the year will very well support all activities in our design sector in the next few years.”

Lahti Mayor Jyrki Myllyvirta sees Helsinki’s designation as an important recognition to all of Finland. “Participation in the project is a logical step in Lahti’s strategy, according to which design will be one of our key strengths in the future. Owing to close interaction of industry and design education, enterprises in Lahti are well-known for their competence in industrial design. In 2012 Lahti will offer an industrial design forum for enterprises, products, designers and consumers,” Mayor Myllyvirta says.

For the time being, the planning and preparations for Helsinki’s World Design Capital 2012 project are directed by Pekka Timonen, Director of the City of Helsinki Cultural Office, who also managed the bidding process. Timonen is currently attending the Icsid World Design Congress 2009 and the World Design Capital 2012 designation celebration in Singapore together with Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen and Espoo Mayor Marketta Kokkonen.