The news came on 25 November 2009: Helsinki had been appointed the World Design Capital for 2012. From the start, our application had emphasised openness, continuity, collaboration and the social dimensions of design. These same themes remain the basis for all our activities.
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 World Design Capital initiative promotes and supports the cultural, social and financial uses of design. The title is assigned every other year by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid).
Like every city in the world, Helsinki exists for its people. An enjoyable urban culture is the result of many factors, perhaps the most important of which is openness.The concept of Open Helsinki is literal – a city where information, ideas, thoughts and people can move freely without unnecessary creativity-hampering obstacles.
Design can be old or new; large or small. Pretty or controversial. Visible or invisible. Design often also has a social or public dimension. For example public transport, municipal and private health care, political systems or schooling would not work without proper design.
The term 'embedded design' is one of our points of departure. It means expanding the realm of design from products to various systems and public services such as healthcare. Embedded design also focuses on taking users' needs into account from the very initial phase of design.