World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 promotes Finnish design abroad

13. november, 2012

wdcWorld Design Capital Helsinki 2012 has been the most extensive international promotion measure of Finnish design and design know-how of all time.

Over the last three years, more than 200 international events in 44 different countries have been organised within the framework of WDC Helsinki 2012. International media has also noted World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 more extensively than any other theme year organised in Finland.

International events have seen the development of the Finnish society through the means of contemporary design and design thinking. The events have reached an estimated 1,200 international media representatives and approximately 20,000 design professionals all over the world. In addition, tens of thousands of visitors interested in Finnish design have come to the events open to the general public.

The international programme has been carried out by a uniquely extensive network: Finland’s Representative Offices and institutes all over the world, five cities (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Lahti), the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, designers and a great number of companies.


World Design Capital Helsinki 2012’s operations have promoted the recognition of the participating actors, their businesses and cooperation networks. Special attention has been given to all the different new skills and thinking Finland has to offer.

– Finnish design comes across better and more interesting than before. This is evident in the increase of people wanting to contact us, and the numbers of queries are going up as we speak. In Britain, credibility comes from who is behind the operation, and the World Design Capital designation has helped in that. Before the designation, Finland was ‘cool’. The WDC designation gave Finland an added air of being ‘super cool’, says Director Raija Koli from the Finnish Institute in London.


The World Design Capital Helsinki 2012’s international programme promotes the work of those operators who can utilise the work that has been carried out after 2012 as well. WDC Helsinki 2012 has brought together and initiated cooperation, shared contacts and developed new ones.

– Aalto University’s Cape Town cooperation would not exist without World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. The cooperation was initiated straight away when Cape Town was chosen as World Design Capital 2014. When the world’s best schools wish to have closer cooperation with us, it can be said that World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 has been a significant extra spice in awakening interest, says Dean Helena Hyvönen from Aalto University School of Art, Design and Architecture.

– From our viewpoint, projects such as REDDRESS are tools. The actual work, strengthening, extending and deepening the relations, however, starts only after the project has been completed. The work has not been finished, although the project, which appears as the final result to the outsiders, has come to an end, tells Director Raija Koli from the Finnish Institute in London.


The most obvious result has been brought by media coverage, the quality and extent of which has exceeded all expectations. The gained publicity has extensive effects on the image of Finland abroad and tourism promotion.

International media has commonly noted that Finland with its strong traditions in design has taken a new direction in the extensive utilisation of design in society. Simultaneously, Finland’s role as a problem-solver has strengthened further.

– More than anything, World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 has strengthened the message of the openness of design. New, innovative design is quickly linked with Helsinki. We have managed to move on from Alvar Aalto and direct our attention to contemporary and future actors. This is evident in the various queries we get: there is a lot of talk of such things as design processes. We have not received such queries before, says Anna-Maija Mertens, Head of Finnish Institute in Germany.

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012’s media coverage will be analysed in more detail during late 2012 and in connection to the final reporting of WDC Helsinki 2012 in spring 2013.


The Radical Design Week currently ongoing in Shanghai is the culmination of the international operations. The event (26 Oct-4 Nov 2012), which is also part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012, promotes Finnish design, exports and innovative cooperation.