Helsinki (Finland)World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 resurfaces in Cape Town, Helsinki’s successor as the focal point of the global design community in 2014: the Helsinki-area based Aalto University, City of Helsinki and Finnish design professionals cooperate with their South African counterparts to complement the official programme of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 with nine design projects.

The Finnish design projects underscore the themes of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 and mirror the themes of World Design Capital Cape Town 2014. The projects explore solutions for urban social challenges and sustainable development, and they stimulate citizens to be active in the design of their own living environments.

“It is vitally important for us to continue the valuable design work that we launched in Helsinki in 2012. Helsinki emerged internationally as a metropolitan area that makes use of design, and we want to continue on the same path,” says Helsinki Economic Development Director Marja-Leena Rinkineva.

Helsinki and Cape Town differ widely in their design traditions and realities as World Design Capitals, but they share the conviction that design has the power to affect change. “Both cities strive to improve the everyday lives of their citizens with design,” Ms. Rinkineva affirms.


The series of Finnish design projects in Cape Town will be launched on 25 February with two exhibition openings.

Me/We is an exhibition by Finnish photographer Tuomo Manninen. Manninen has photographed people worldwide for nearly 20 years. Me/We displays group portraits from Helsinki and Johannesburg’s Soweto. From Cape Town the exhibition will move to Johannesburg’s Jozi Art:lab gallery, to open there in autumn 2014.

Shaping a Shared World is an exhibition curated jointly by Aalto University and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). It explores the themes of the Aalto University’s 2013 Masters of Aalto diploma-project exhibition. Shaping a Shared World presents work by students of both universities focusing on practical solutions for a better environment and society.

Aalto University is one of the most active of the Finnish players in Cape Town. “We want to allow students to test their skills in real, interactive situations and to utilize design as tools,” says Aalto University President Tuula Teeri, explaining the university’s goals in Cape Town.

The second Aalto University project in Cape Town is TalkootTAXI – Social Impact on Wheels. The project brings a mobile platform for design discussion on theTalkootTAXI bus to poor residents of Cape Town. Discussions carried out on the bus are used to develop solutions for the residents’ everyday problems.


World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 used food culture successfully to create stimulating and interactive urban environments. Helsinki has played an important role in introducing food to Cape Town’s design year programme.
“Food brings people together, so we are happy to see food culture in Cape Town,” comments Ms. Rinkineva.

Both Helsinki and Cape Town will organize an international street food conference and festival in late March. Cape Town chef Luca Castiglione, a South African food truck pioneer, will join the Streat Helsinki festival on 22-23 March to talk about his Cape Town Food Trucks concept.

“The events aim to inspire discussion about the possibilities of street food, and we hope to hear success stories, share ideas and open new opportunities for cooperation,” says Ville Relander, Helsinki’s food-culture project manager, who has actively promoted the Cape Town food culture programme.

The Finnish contributions to World Design Capital Cape Town 2014 also include designer Ilkka Suppanen’s Club of Helsinki project and Welcome to South African Innovation, a book produced by the creative services agency WTF Helsinki together with South African actors.

For more information please contact:
Laura Aalto
Communications Director
International Design Foundation
t: +358 40 507 9660

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, Seoul (South Korea) in 2010 and Helsinki (Finland) in 2012 whilst preparations for Cap