Capture from Virtual Helsinki by VR-Studio Zoan

Helsinki Design Week creates a street-long virtual art intervention

Helsinki Design Week will this year run as a hybrid digital and physical format. Running from 3rd – 13th September its main exhibition programme will be hosted from the newly renovated Helsinki Olympic Stadium, with a stream of digital events taking the design festival to a wider audience and those unable to attend in person.

Now in its 16th year, the Helsinki Design Week will celebrate the theme Commitment Matters, raising questions regarding how we can achieve and improve on meaning and long-term value in design.

Jan Vapaavuori, Mayor of Helsinki said:

“Design is and should be present in everything we do. Now more than ever we must ask ourselves how design can improve lives, create commitment to modern democratic values, promote sustainability and innovation in urbanization, and provide us the tools needed for championing in the post-COVID world. I believe in exposing people to these questions through design. Partnership with Helsinki Design Week helps us achieve that.”

In a partnership with Virtual Helsinki, the programme will include Helsinki Virtual Design Street, a street-long virtual exhibition with three installations from emerging Finnish designers. The project will transform Aleksanterinkatu into a colourful and immersive virtual design experience, featuring the work of product designer Hanna Anonen, graphic artist Matts Bjolin, and fashion designer Fanni Lyytikäinen.

For the duration of the festival, local and international visitors to the virtual city will experience a transformed urban realm, finding themselves in flowing water or standing on grass, under Escher-inspired bridges, or looking up at the street’s facades which have been coloured, and patterned with flowers and moving abstract shapes.

Hanna Harris, Chief Design Officer at the City of Helsinki said:

“Helsinki wants to be the city that pioneers digital innovation to create engaging solutions for the future of our cities. The collaboration between Helsinki Design Week and Virtual Helsinki shows the potential for this kind of technology to not only be a playful, alternative and sustainable way to experience our city, but also demonstrates the impact it can have on how places might be envisioned, designed and managed in the future.”

Helsinki Design Week will mark the launch of the newly renovated Helsinki Olympic Stadium. Designed by architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti for the 1940 Olympics, the iconic stadium has undergone a four-year refurbishment by Finnish studio K2S. It will play host to the main exhibition; a series of installations on design, architecture and fashion, presenting unique one-off pieces to largescale set ups.

Helsinki Design Week’s Programme Director Anni Korkman said:

“As the largest design festival in the Nordic countries, the aim this year is to make Helsinki Design Week as safe and as accessible as possible for Helsinki’s citizens and our international visitors. The newly reopened Olympic Stadium is a fitting location to host the main Helsinki Design Week exhibition and Children’s Design Weekend, but we are also excited to expand our programme into a comprehensive digital – and for the first time – virtual format. We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the world to join the wider discussion on why Commitment Matters.”

Helsinki Design Week virtual events will include:

  • Design Market, 3–5 September
  • Climate College, 4 September
  • Data-Driven Design Day, 8 September
  • Weekly Talk: Harri Koskinen ja Marttiini Eräkokki-veitsisarja, 8 September
  • Design Forum Talk <3 Circular economy, 9 September
  • Online Design Talk: System Innovations for Business Sustainability, 10 September
  • Architecture and Design Learning DesignLab: Mini Jam, 11 September
  • Online exhibition: Objects of the Forest, 13 September

The full design week programme can be accessed here:

More on Virtual Helsinki

The city’s digital twin - Virtual Helsinki - is the result of a long-term strategic view into how the city uses its data, and the culmination of a twoyear partnership with VR studio Zoan. Mobile Virtual Helsinki is designed to be accessible as possible; audiences can view the virtual artworks with a smartphone, tablet or computer – VR headsets are not required. Website details:

More on Helsinki Design Week

Helsinki Design Week has been organized annually every September since 2005. With a festival programme of hundreds of events every year, it is the largest design festival in the Nordic countries. Helsinki Design Week is produced by Luovi Productions Ltd.

Photo: Capture from Virtual Helsinki by VR-Studio Zoan