Helsinki (Finland) – The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) announced today, the conclusion of Helsinki’s official World Design Capital 2012 year. International guests gathered in the iconic Finlandia Hall to commemorate Helsinki’s successful yearlong programme during the Closing Summit, as well as witness the handover of the WDC title to Cape Town (South Africa) by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design during the WDC Convocation Ceremony later that same evening.

The ceremony culminated in Icsid’s announcement of the official opening of the 2016 WDC bid process.

“World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 has widened the use of design in Finland in a number of ways. It has also increased the understanding of the possibilities design offers and gained exceptional international attention,” says Pekka Timonen, Executive Director of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. “The World Design Capital’s task is to highlight the significance of design; indicate the intended usage of contemporary design, and to increase the demand for design. Our projects have succeeded brilliantly in all of these.”

WDC Helsinki 2012 in numbers

Altogether, 580 projects were explored, 2800 events were organized throughout the year of which 90 percent were open to the general public and 80 percent were free of charge. This resulted in nearly 1 million visitors to the city. According to reports, almost 7000 international and 4500 local articles about the WDC 2012 appeared in nearly 100 countries.

“Open city, global responsibility and new growth were central themes of Helsinki’s World Design Capital year,” continues Timonen. “During the yearlong programme, design became a topic for public discussion. More than anything, carrying on with the legacy of the World Design Capital year, Helsinki is on a path towards becoming even more liveable.”

“World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 has been a permission to do things differently and to think beyond traditional limits,” stated Helsinki Mayor Jussi Pajunen. “The legacy from the year includes a stronger user orientation in welfare services and urban planning, as well as increased openness. I feel that as a result, Helsinki is a more fun and functional city, which we set as our initial starting point.”

Icsid President Soon-in Lee stated, “Helsinki, like cities that have held the designation before it, has been able to achieve many of their city development, tourism and citizen engagement goals. Record-breaking tourism levels and initiatives such as the Design ROI project from the Finnish Design Business Association and Aalto University are direct answers to the objective of how we can increase the understanding of design’s role as a promoter of business life and economics.”

WDC title is transferred to Cape Town

While Helsinki’s WDC Closing Summit marked the end of the city’s appointment, the event was immediately followed by the WDC Convocation Ceremony in honour of the City of Cape Town as the next WDC in 2014. Accompanied by a supporting delegation from South Africa, including the Mayor of Stellenbosch, Mr. Conrad Sidego, Alderman Patricia de Lille, Executive Mayor of Cape Town expressed that “The central thesis of the City of Cape Town’s approach to the World Design Capital 2014 will support the premise that excellence in design is using what you have to realise what you want. What we hope to do is design the change we want to see in our city, using the very building blocks of which our city is comprised.”

For more information about Cape Town’s ‘Live design. Transform Life.’ WDC programme please visit

Icsid launches the application process for WDC 2016

The evening concluded with the launch of the much anticipated application process for the WDC 2016 designation. This will mark the 5th cycle of the initiative that was established by Icsid in 2005. Cities are invited to submit their applications to Icsid by 30 April 2013. The 2016 application can be downloaded from the official World Design Capital website at Supplemental information can be found in the ‘Becoming a WDC’ manual, which aims to provide interested cities with useful information about the programme.

Icsid closed the evening with a video, looking back at the first four WDC designated cities, which officially opened the bid for WDC 2016.

The WDC 2016 Selection Committee consists of the following individuals:

  • Prof. Soon-in Lee; Icsid President
  • Ms. Ayse Birsel; Co-founder and Creative Director, Birsel + Seck
  • Alderman Patricia de Lille; Executive Mayor of Cape Town, WDC 2014
  • Dr. Beatriz Garcia; Head of Research, Institute of Cultural Capital, University of Liverpool
  • Mr. Jens Martin Skibsted, Creative Director and Founder, KiBiSi/Skibsted Ideation

For more information on Icsid or the World Design Capital, please contact:
Natalie Dutil
Icsid Communications Officer
t: +1 514 448 4949 ext. 223

About the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid)

The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) is a non-profit organisation that protects and promotes the interests of the profession of industrial design. Founded in 1957, Icsid serves as a unified voice of over 50 nations through which members can express their views and be heard on an international platform. Since its inception, Icsid has continued to develop its wide-reaching network of students and professionals devoted to the recognition, success and growth of the industrial design community. Together, professional associations, promotional societies, educational institutions, government bodies and corporations create a comprehensive and diverse system on the forefront of industrial design education and progress.

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 concluding 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. Bids for the 2016 designation are currently being accepted through 30 April 2013.