Helsinki (Finland) – Thousands of citizens participated in the brainstorming process for World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 (WDC Helsinki 2012) during the Ideas Forum on 22 May 2010 – the first official event for WDC Helsinki 2012. Altogether, approximately one hundred sessions were held in Helsinki and the municipalities of Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Lahti, where more than two thousand ideas for the cities were proposed. Similar events were also held generating ideas from around the world, in Shanghai, New York, and Berlin.

Some of the central themes expressed during in the sessions involved longer-term, sustainable development projects for the cities, as well as diverse recommendations for international co-operation. Many ideas addressed traffic, public transportation and better waste management, in addition to making greener choices and developing local features of city districts to make public areas more pleasant.

“All ideas collected during the brainstorming will be analysed by theme, and will be used by WDC Helsinki 2012 as a basis of programme planning,” says Sami Oinonen of Hub Helsinki, the organisation that lead the process.

The Ideas Forum was an invitation for a culture of open action and a promise of continuity. The main objective of the day was to encourage citizens to think about what 2012 should mean and what kinds of change WDC Helsinki 2012 should generate.

This was the first time that the citizens of a WDC designated city have been given the opportunity to participate in envisioning a better city, this early in the process and on this large a scale. Citizen involvement in the Ideas Forum and subsequently in the WDC project was perceived as something that they owned, that addressed their needs, and will be created and developed for them.

WDC Helsinki 2012 teams patrolled the cities, meeting with citizens as they went about their daily lives – in markets, parks, bus stops, and in shopping malls.

“I’m impressed with the level of citizen participation and how undeniably people felt that their participation was significant. Many communities have taken ownership in the project and are thinking about how design could be used to develop their operations,” says Mr. Pekka Timonen, Director of the WDC Helsinki 2012 project planning.

The central outcome of the day was not, however, measured by the success of the brainstorming events nor in the abundance of ideas that these generated, but rather in the realisation that citizens want to actively participate and contribute their efforts to the WDC Helsinki 2012 programme, which, in effect, will be put forth in the best possible manner.

The Ideas Forum was only the first step. The themes and ideas will serve as stimuli for the actors who will use WDC Helsinki 2012 as a conduit for improving daily life and as a catalyst to spread the national brand around the world. Many of the ideas are ready to be put to use immediately to improve the city scenery and services. The remaining themes and central ideas will be presented in a report and will form the basis for future plans and a road map for building something significant for the upcoming two years and beyond.


  • View photo archive to see more pictures of the event
  • View the event page to find out more about WDC Helsinki 2012


Further information and requests for interviews:

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012:
Pekka Timonen
t: +358 9 310 37000
m: +358 50 337 4386

Press photos

About World Design Capital Helsinki 2012

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 is a joint project by the cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Lahti. The creative sector is re-shaping Helsinki’s economy and enhancing the citizens’ quality of life. Design seen from a broad perspective – in city planning, architecture, industrial design and service design – plays an integral role in the development of Helsinki, city services and consumer products.

About World Design Capital™ (WDC)

While there are many awards that recognise individual accomplishments in design, the World Design Capital™ (WDC) 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. WDC designated cities include Torino, Italy (2008); Seoul, South Korea, 2010 and Helsinki, Finland (2012).

The World Design Capital is an initiative of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid). Founded in 1957, Icsid is an international not-for-profit organisation committed to the advancement of industrial design.

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.