Helsinki (Finland) – Helsinki achieved multiple goals as the World Design Capital of 2012. The year strengthened the understanding of design in Finnish society, increased citizen interest in urban development and enhanced the international image of Finland as a design nation.

The above conclusions are made by Deloitte which has completed an impact assessment of the results of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 (WDC Helsinki 2012). The assessment was published today. It is the first study on the social impact of WDC Helsinki 2012. Deloitte assesses that half (52 percent) of the projects that formed the official programme of Helsinki’s design year either would not have been implemented without the programme or  would have been implemented in a different manner. WDC Helsinki 2012 especially promoted projects focusing on design education, user-oriented services and comprehensive solutions utilising methods inherent in design.

WDC Helsinki 2012 activated citizens and supported the participating cities in creating new types of practices that include citizens. Deloitte estimates that 37 percent of the projects are either likely or certain to produce results after 2012.

WDC Helsinki 2012 failed to meet some of its goals during the year. The achievement of these goals would have necessitated more extensive changes in organisational practices and particularly in the design understanding among the corporate partners.

International Design Foundation, the managing body of WDC Helsinki 2012, states in its final report that the project grew larger than planned. The programme content exceeded the plan and the budget managed by the foundation increased from the initial 15 million euro to nearly 18 million euro.

The final report concludes that design became a topic of public discussion in Finland and Helsinki emerged as an increasingly appealing design city.


Helsinki was the World Design Capital of 2012 together with its neighbouring cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen as well as with the southern Finland city of Lahti. The World Design Capital is a title conferred by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid). The goal of the World Design Capital is to promote the use of design in the social, cultural and economic development of cities.

WDC Helsinki 2012 promoted design with 550 projects and 2,800 events. The programme was implemented by a network of 14,500 people in 290 organisations in Finland and abroad.

The year’s exhibitions, events and sites attracted 2.5 million visitors. About 90 percent of the events were open to the public and 80 percent were free of charge.

According to the final report, the media covered design extensively and from various angles. WDC Helsinki 2012 also roused criticism, which helped the organisation to achieve its goals.


The total funds managed by International Design Foundation during 2010–2013 were 17.8 million euro. The Finnish State provided 5 million euro and the participating cities a total of 6 million euro for the project. The additional funding came from corporate partners and foundations, exceeding expectations. International Design Foundation’s final accounts show a surplus of 100,000 euro.

The finances of WDC Helsinki 2012 were only partially channeled through International Design Foundation. Projects had their own budgets and were mainly financed from other sources, such as public and private funds and foundations as well as through project financing and corporate partnerships. No estimate is available of the total economic scope of WDC Helsinki 2012.

WDC Helsinki 2012 was implemented and managed by International Design Foundation, which will continue operations on a limited scope. The City of Helsinki has named Pekka Timonen as Chairman of Board. Timonen previously directed the foundation.

The reports are available for download:



About World Design Capital® (WDC)

While there are many awards that recognise individual accomplishments in design, the World Design Capital designation is unique as it aims to focus on the broader essence of design’s impact on urban spaces, economies and citizens. The designation provides a distinctive opportunity for cities to feature their accomplishments in attracting and promoting innovative design, as well as highlight their successes in urban revitalisation strategies.

The World Design Capital is an initiative established and managed by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. Past cities to hold the title include Torino (Italy) in 2008 and Seoul (South Korea) in 2010. The City of Helsinki (Finland) is currently implementing its programme for 2012 under the theme of Open Helsinki: Embedding Design in Life, whilst preparations for Cape Town (South Africa) are underway for 2014.