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Helsinki as a City of Design

Lasipalatsi square and Amos Rex Museum. Photo: Amos Rex

The City of Helsinki is an internationally recognised pioneer in the utilisation of design. Helsinki is a leading City of Design, which has made design one of its strategic choices.

For Helsinki, design means human-centred approaches and the utilisation of the customer perspective.

Helsinki seeks to be the most functional city in the world. A functional city is created through cooperation, by listening to customers, and by taking customer needs into consideration. Design has a great deal to offer in this regard.

By combining design with digitalisation and dialogue, we create the best urban user experience in the most functional city in the world.

Helsinki’s design expertise has roused international interest and Helsinki is asked for experiences and advice in the use of design.

Helsinki's path to City of Design

In 2012, Helsinki was the World Design Capital and two years later Helsinki received the UNESCO City of Design title.

The International Design Foundation's Design Driven City project prolonged the heritage of the design capital year until the end of 2015. In September 2016, the City became the first city in the world to appoint a Chief Design Officer.

The Helsinki Lab project, which was initiated in 2016, makes design know-how, digitality and interaction an even more integral part of the development of the City. Lab also integrates the City organisation and partners to work together in view of creating a better city and new business operations.

Helsinki engages in design-related development activities in three sectors:

  • Design know-how: utilising design in the development of city services
  • Design as an accelerator of corporate growth: utilising design in SMEs in other key branches
  • Design and international co-operation: The Helsinki UNESCO City of Design network and the World Design Weeks network, which is chaired by Helsinki Design Week Director Kari Korkman.

Through joint experiments and utilisation of design methods, open data and digitality, we create services adapted to the needs of the residents and visitors and agile participation and interaction channels.

Photo: Amos Rex

19.03.2020 11:05

Oodi as textbook case of service design

The development and design of Helsinki Central Library Oodi reflects the evolution of service design thinking within the City of Helsinki.