Helsinki - WDC 2012

Illustration Helsinki WDC2012

World Design Capital 2012







60°10′32″N, 24°56′03″E




213,75 km2


1 304 851 inh.


1 824 inh./km2

Carte Helsinki

The city of Helsinki (Finland) was designated World Design Capital® in 2012. In Helsinki, design was the catalyst for constructing an open city, boosting its social, economic and cultural development.

Design is an integral part of Finnish and Helsinki culture, both industrially and artistically. Its importance is represented by iconic companies, brands and designers such as Nokia, Kone, Marimekko ouarchitectes, Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto. Design also plays an essential role in the activities of leading education and research institutions, such as the University of Art and Design Helsinki, and through the organisation of popular events, such as the Annual Design Week in Helsinki.


Through the concept of “Embedded Design”, Helsinki wished to underline the link between design and innovation, in order to meet the needs of local residents. Design is therefore a permanent, significant component in the development of the city. For the World Design Capital®, Helsinki launched the “Design Driven City” programme to ensure that the legacy of the design year would continue after 2012.


These projects included:

WDC PAVILION HELSINKI 2012 – This pavilion, built by a team from Aalto University Wood Studio in collaboration with the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Design Museum, was the beating heart of the design year, for over 100 days. An open space in both a literal and figurative sense, it brought together local residents and visitors who had come to discover Helsinki 2012, World Design Capital, to enjoy arts and culture, discuss the heritage of design and the future of the city.

KAUKO CAFÉ – With “Kauko”, the team from Hasan & Partners decided to offer a unique café experience, attempting to answer the question: “What is the importance of design in everyday life?” In this venue, users were able to experiment with design approach solutions, by controlling the distance and height of the chairs and tables, for example, as well as the lighting or the music, simply by using their smartphone. This experience delivered a clear response: “Yes, design is important in everyday life, whether you are aware of it or not.”

OPEN IDENTITY HELSINKI – The visual identity of Helsinki 2012, World Design Capital was built around the idea of openness. The identity of the brand was represented by hundreds of graphic interpretations, based on contributions from people of all ages, nationalities and origins.

DESIGN GALA – This event celebrated the first winner of the World Design Impact Prize, which was awarded to the Kenyan company Planning System Services Ltd. for its “Community Cooker” project.

INTERNATIONAL DESIGN CENTRE EXHIBITION “EVERYDAY DISCOVERIES” – Hundreds of designers from 23 countries presented the “Design centres”, with practical examples of design solutions to meet the needs of everyday life.


This meeting bringing together representatives of foreign cities and metropolises focused on the role of communities in design. It made it possible to address the way in which they could, through design, be more responsible towards citizens and develop public services focused on the user (citizens / inhabitants) by placing design at the heart of their efforts.