Helsinki (Finland)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. The major project, which was launched in spring 2010, will reach its objectives.


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. The major project, which was launched in spring 2010, will reach its objectives.

The essential results have been compiled into ten theses which World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 published on Tuesday, 27 November, 2012. In accordance with the objectives, the city residents gained a deeper insight into the importance of design and its impact on their daily life; the user’s perspective in design was highlighted, and design was used to solve problems  in different environments.

“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. Helsinki and its partner cities have concentrated on building better cities and initiated development work that utilises design,” tells Pekka Timonen, Executive Director of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.

Design has had a wider impact on Finns this year than ever before. The effect and significance of design has been explored in 580 projects in total. World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 has been carried out in Finland and abroad by an extensive network consisting of 290 organisations.

During WDC Helsinki 2012, the use of design methods has widened in various ways. They have been used to find solutions for healthcare and social services, student library services, airport security checks, our working habits, work wear and revamping signage systems, among other things.

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 events, exhibitions and locations have attracted nearly one million visitors. Altogether 2,800 events were organised throughout the year, of which 90 per cent were open for the general public and 80 per cent were free-of-charge. In addition to the events, the programme had an impact on a huge percentage of residents through the extensive development projects.


Of the 580 World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 projects, approximately one third was carried out by the public sector. Thousands of users participated in the projects through different product and service design workshops, training events and interviews.

New shared spaces for local residents were created in all five cities: in Helsinki, the Abattoir area, Kamppi Chapel, the Pavilion, Turn Table – the Urban Garden and Kulttuurisauna; in Espoo, the Design Espoo event facility and the Finnish Nature Centre Haltia, due to open in March 2013; in Vantaa, the Design Window and the Suvanto lounges open to the general public at the airport; and in Lahti, the Muotohuoltamo Centre. These spaces shaped the urban landscape either temporarily or permanently, giving people new meeting places that were designed from the start with communal activities in mind.

Furthermore, the increase in the amount of design education provided for children and youth tells about the wide impact of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.  As an example, 11,000 six-year-olds in five cities have opened the Designer’s Treasure Chest this autumn, and the Danish INDEX: NPO’s design education has been tested in five upper secondary schools.


As the World Design Capital, the Helsinki Metropolitan Area has attracted extensive international attention. The message of design’s new role has been convincing as well as interesting: the project has featured in almost 7,000 international articles published in nearly 100 countries. Over 80 international seminars, conferences and events were organised during World Design Capital Helsinki 2012, which brought more than 2,000 experts worldwide into Finland. Between 2010 and 2012, more than 200 international events in 44 different countries have been organised within the framework of WDC Helsinki 2012.

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 has also had an effect on the development of tourism. The Cities of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa, Kauniainen and Lahti are pleased with the growth this year, adding to the previous successful tourism years. In Helsinki, according to estimations, the growth will be 1,3 per cent.  According to research carried out by IBM analysts, the special effect of 2012 in Helsinki’s tourism will be 2,5 per cent.


The World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 organisation will terminate its operations in early 2013, and the project’s final report will be published in March 2013.
Due to the networked operational model, the change initiated by World Design Capital Helsinki 2o12 will not cease with the organisation that implemented the project. The projects which aimed for long-term development continue their activities, and the project’s background communities are preparing further activities.

In the spirit of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012, the government also wishes to promote the use of design. In 2012, the government initiated the compilation of the National design programme, which will be ready for publication in January 2013.

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.