In 2016 more than 158,000 visitors came here for the largest Design Week in Helsinki. This year too, many visitors are awaited who can look forward to more than 250 events. The program consists of seminars, exhibitions, fashion shows, workshops, installations, entertaining evening programmes and free access to the rooms of design studios, where the doors will be kept open for visitors. Large numbers of designers, well-known architects and international couturiers will showcase their designs there and will provide information with regard to the creative processes that drive their works.
Helsinki – the living creative centre
Ever since Helsinki was nominated the design capital of the world in 2012 itself, one is exposed to design at every corner of all the city districts. In the so-called “Design District”, the living creative centre of the city with its art nouveau buildings and cobble-stone streets lined with railings, there are many young creative people who live in this area. Here, you will find over 200 boutiques, large numbers of ateliers, galleries and stylish cafes. But design is not only celebrated at the Design Week in Helsinki, but all through the year. You will find spontaneous events taking place all the time, for example, at the late night shopping days or event days such as the “Restaurant Day” or “Cleaning Day”. In addition, there are regular flea markets and large numbers of vintage shops that make the hearts of shoppers beat faster, in particular, when it is about the high quality antiques that can be found here.
The inner city areas of Punavuori, Kaartinkaupunki, Kruunuhaka, Kamppi and Ullanlinna are the perfect jump-off points to go seeking the origins of Finnish design and to get inspired. A good starting point is the 140 year old Design Museum, which has a permanent exhibition that gives you a comprehensive overview of the history of Finnish design – from the beginning, in the late 19th century through Alvar Aalto, the founder of Finnish modernism and then up to the present. In additional special exhibitions, the latest design trends from Finland, Scandinavia and also the latest from the international scene are displayed, as well.
Finnish design icons – wherever you look
Aside from the “Design District”, Finnish design can also be experienced in and around the main shopping street, Esplanadi, and at the marketplace. Some of the flagship stores of Finnish design icons such as Marimeko, Artek and Iittala and a bohemian art and design scene are at home here.
The streets are decorated colourfully for the “Helsinki Design Week”, the restaurants and bars are beautifully lit up and shop windows act as a stage for many artists and designers. Visitors can experience impressive installations that are spread over the entire city and they can also participate in entertaining conversations in the rapid transit train system. This runs theme-based journeys under the “Q & A” motto, or visitors can also take part in the international design seminar with renowned experts from the design scene.
The motto of the Helsinki Design Week is “Q & A”
This year the “Helsinki Design Week” begins with the motto “Q & A” (=questions and answers). The search for questions and answers brings to the fore, the fact that good design also involves clear thinking. Over some time now, the value of design has changed and it is not just about creating objects any more, it includes perceptions and also questions the obvious.
The theme of the design event is meant to motivate us to more openness, visions, exploration and discovery. We need to deal with the subject of social questions with regard to the way we live, which will influence our future. Criticism is a major factor for that. It makes us open to new ideas. This means finding out how we can use design to create better cities, if not a better society, too. How could design-oriented thought processes bring advantages in the development of new fields? What could sustainable city development look like? Also, what could education and upbringing, living spaces and houses and the cooperation between corporations look like in the field of creativity?
A further important dimension is internationalism. The “Helsinki Design Week” has developed a new network at just the right time, which poses new challenges and questions to international interactivity. In many countries, populism, nationalism and protectionism are all-pervasive, but new ideas and innovation require openness, engagement and tolerance. For the next few years, it is therefore important that national organisations are persuaded that international networking and dialogue are more sensible than the short-term striving for their own national interests. But how is this to be done? You can look for answers to this and to other questions in Helsinki in September.
International design stars of the Helsinki Design Week
The “DesignCommons” seminar that takes place under the auspices of the two-day “World Design Weeks” summit meeting is also part of the program in Helsinki. Here, the public will get together with international designers. They will all break bread together in a warm atmosphere and will participate in animated discussions. Many renowned experts have already agreed to be present, these include the iconic architect, Winy Maas, the technology entrepreneur, Marko Ahtisaari (formerly of Nokia), the landscape designer, Cees van der Veeken, and the Designstudio Swine, from where the architect, Azusa Murakami, and the British artist, Alexander Groves, are expected.
Design installations and entertaining rapid transit train journeys
With a total of six new installations in the city, the works of Finnish and international designers and architects would like to make you aware of the development of the city. Last year, the “Drei Schmiede-Satue“ (The three blacksmiths’ statue) was enclosed in a huge bubble. Now, next to the statue, a small – just about the size of a parking space – apartment building is supposed to come up, which is meant to symbolically replicate cramped city architecture and is also meant to depict a solution for buildings in disaster zones. A “Danish green room” is being created at the Keskuskatu-Straße and an old arena (Kaartin maneesi) will be the background for the multi-purpose design-oriented theme. The venues will be ceremoniously declared open at a townspeople’s parade on the 7th of September 2017.
You should not miss this first-class event. You can get tips with regard to your visit to the city from the designer, Tapani Hyvönen, through our Red Dot Design App.
Posted on 10.08.2017