The hugely popular Design Diplomacy discussions open the doors to ambassadors’ residencies once again. Registration to the events is now open.
The Design Diplomacy discussion concept developed by Helsinki Design Week combines unique diplomatic settings with relaxed discussions. It builds vital international links between the embassies, design professionals and the audience.
In this concept, two speakers present at each ambassador’s residence: one of the speakers is from Finland and the other is a design professional from the embassy’s home country. The speakers meet over a card game created for the concept. Playful and smart questions on the cards challenge both the speakers and the audience. Surprising content is guaranteed because the speakers are not able to prepare for the questions in advance.
In addition to half-hour discussions, the audience will learn interesting details about the unique residencies and their architecture over a drink.
Speakers use objects to answer the questions
In addition to the residence discussions, we can now for the first time see the works of the participating designers at the Design Diplomacy exhibition. The exhibition takes place on the 3rd floor of the Erottaja2 venue. It will present the answers of the designers participating in the Design Diplomacy card game to questions such as: What makes a perfect object? Or what is the best compliment to receive for one’s design work? The exhibition also presents their love for materials and some favourite projects from their careers over the years.
The Learning Climate theme is integrated in the discussions
This year many of the speakers will have a say on Helsinki Design Week’s theme: Learning Climate.
The residence of Denmark’s ambassador located across the Old Church Park is the oldest of the Helsinki residences. Designer Jonas Edvard from Denmark is to participate in the Design Diplomacy card game together with Julia Lohmann.
With an alchemist’s approach to the design process, Edvard experiments with natural resources and creates products where the perception of the material places the object in a completely new context. Lohmann is a professor of practice in contemporary design. She investigates and critiques the ethical and material value systems underpinning our relationship with flora and fauna. Lohmann’s research interests include critical practice and transition design, bio materials, collaborative making, museums and residencies, embodied cognition, and practice as research. As designer in residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum, she established the Department of Seaweed, an interdisciplinary community of practice exploring marine plants’ potential as a design material.
The official residence of The Netherlands’ ambassador Villa Kleineh has served as a summer villa for Russian and Baltic spa guests. It is one of the oldest wooden houses in Helsinki. The Design Diplomacy discussion of The Netherlands is conducted by a design duo from Rotterdam, Koen Meerkerk and Hugo de Boon, as well as designers Salla Luhtasela and Wesley Walters from Helsinki specialized in ceramic tableware and wooden furniture.
Meerkerk and de Boon are passionate about creating value in modern circular economy for things that have been labelled useless. They face and solve problems from a design point of view. They work in Bluecity together with other businesses towards a zero waste circular economy. Specialized in ceramic tableware and wooden furniture, Luhtasela and Walters share an interest in functional, understated forms that highlight each material’s tactile qualities as well as in the production process itself.
From student lodging to a residence
At the residence of Iceland’s ambassador, Valdís Steinarsdóttir and Tuula Pöyhönen meet for breakfast. Steinarsdóttir focuses on material experiments and finding unique solutions to social and environmental issues. Through her projects she wants to get to the bottom of why we as a society think certain things are beautiful, interesting, ugly or offensive. Pöyhönen has in-depth understanding of the manufacturing processes in the textile and clothing industry. She enjoys the challenge of merging cutting-edge design, brave branding and the commercial reality.
Designed by Lars Sonck and Onni Törnqvist, the residence was used as a student lodging in the 1970s when its large rooms and halls where made into small studios. The residence has served the ambassador of Iceland since 1999 when it was revamped to match the original building style.
You could have seen all this…
These discussion events are highly popular and booked quickly. The Italian residence is already fully booked but there is a waiting list.
Built in 1918 in the district of Eira the Italian residence was originally offered to house the intended King of Finland Friedrich Karl. He rejected the throne, however, and Finland became a republic. At Design Diplomacy, Matteo Ragni will immerse in a discussion with shoe designer Minna Parikka.
Awarded Ragni has constructed a modus operandi that adapts to the background and history of each individual brand. His conviction is that this is the only way for the role of the designer to take on an ethical character, contributing to true evolution. Minna Parikka is a shoe designer whose products have gained cult-like recognition. Parikka’s shoes are worn by both Finnish and international celebrities, including Cara Delevingne, Taylor Swift, the Jenners and the Kardashians.
Read more about the exhibition and the residences and register for the events. The discussions are held in English.