Helsinki Design Week 2015 more international than ever

By Helsinki Design Weekly     16. September 2015

© Aino Huovio

The largest design festival in the Nordic countries ended on Sunday, after bringing to Helsinki not only the international top leaders and journalists in the design field but also an unprecedentedly large number of tourists interested in design.

Helsinki Design Week, which was organized throughout Helsinki for the 11th time on 3-13 September, was more international than ever. Over 200 events planned for design professionals and friends of design pulled in more than 120 000 visitors. This is more than 10 000 more visitors than last year. The theme of the festival, Time Machine, investigated the future impacts of design and offered visitors a cross-disciplinary perspective on the topic. The festival programme focused on the development of cities through design.

New venues brought the festival to an even wider audience. The listed L3 harbour warehouse building designed by Lars Sonck served as the festival’s main venue. The L3 Design Dock contained nearly 40 exhibitors ranging from project design to experimental student projects. The stage programme offered visitors product launches as well as talks about design, architecture and the future of cities. Also new to the festival was the exhibition and programme collaboration organized together with the National Museum of Finland, where current design was presented alongside the museum’s own historical artefacts.

“Helsinki Design Week was again successful in holding design and design methods up to a new light for new audiences as well as taking over the city in an excellent way. I am very happy about HDW’s role in the international field of design,” says Director of Economic Development Marja-Leena Rinkineva.

A wide range of international visitors

Helsinki Design Week attracted influential figures and journalists in the field of design from over 20 countries. Representatives from design weeks arrived in Helsinki from as far as Tokyo and Cape Town, and the UNESCO Creative Cities network also gathered in Helsinki. The festival’s main seminars boasted leading design thinkers from the Netherlands, Great Britain, Chile and beyond.

Helsinki Design Week’s efforts to promote design tourism were seen during the festival in the city centre’s fashion and design shops as well as in events organized by designers. Ida Nyrhinen, Store Manager and Social Media Manager for IvanaHelsinki, states that the number of tourists coming for design week can be seen in their increased sales. 

“This year, the design tourism was really noticeable. The open doors evening held at our studio drew in tourists who shared that they came to Finland only because of Helsinki Design Week,” says Tiina Latva of the Werklig design agency.

Design education strongly represented in the programme

Helsinki Design Week’s programme for children and youth was bigger than ever. HDW’s Children’s Weekend collected over 8500 children and parents at the Kattilahalli in Suvilahti on 12-13 September to learn about design and architecture through workshops and carrying out projects together.

This year’s festival programme for the first time reached out to hundreds of enthusiastic students in Helsinki primary schools through the design ambassadors of SuoMu – the Finnish Association of Design Education and by distributing the Mutku guide on design education to every school. The design week workshops arranged at the Design Museum offered the opportunity to 9th graders to learn about design. Design methods received the most enthusiastic reception among the school children. Increasing design education is part of the City of Helsinki’s actions as a UNESCO City of Design.

In 2016, Helsinki Design week will be held 1-11.9.2016.

Helsinki Design Week 2015