Anne Stenros. Photo: Kalle Kataila

Helsinki’s Chief Design Officer is starting in September

Ms. Anne Stenros, Doctor of Science and Architect SAFA, will start as Chief Design Officer of the City of Helsinki at the beginning of September. Her most recent post is Professor of Practice, IDBM Programme Director, at the Aalto University. In 2005–2015 she was the Design Director of Kone Corporation.

Having a Chief Design Officer in its own organisation Helsinki will strengthen strategic development and the use of design thinking in planning public services. In the last four years, the City has made user-centred design part of its development in more than a hundred projects already. Through this work Helsinki has reached the position of being an international design city that the world follows.

”Helsinki being World Design Capital in 2012 made the City recognise the possibilities of design. The Design Driven Cities in the world are now networking actively to share best practices and learn from each other. Listening to and understanding users in earnest and emphatic planning of services are in focus in this development. Helsinki has excellent starting points thanks to years of long-term development of urban design,” Anne Stenros says and continues ”from this basis it is easier to start strengthening the role of design as part of the City’s strategic planning and development. At the same time, Helsinki as a city brand will upgrade its status as an international pioneer city in design knowledge”.

According to Anne Stenros, in Helsinki there is a strong understanding that it is inevitable that the way of developing public services is changing. Design brings to the development of public services and the urban environment the very tools needed to picture the future. Results from the use of design have confirmed that, at their best, design methods help to understand something that does not yet exist.  

”Anne Stenros’s long experience in design and change management will support the ongoing reform of the City’s governance system and the introduction of a new city brand for Helsinki. Having been the Design Director of Kone for a long time, Anne Stenros understands the strategic role of design and the possibilities there are in developing a vast organisation and in picturing the future,” Ms. Marja-Leena Rinkineva, Director of Economic Development, says and continues ”I am very pleased that all Helsinki will be able to benefit from Anne’s competence, experience and international networks”.

More than fifty persons applied for the position of Chief Design Officer, and the international attention was extensive as well. Anne Stenros will start as Chief Design Officer and head of the Helsinki Lab project on 1 September 2016. The position of Chief Design Officer is fixed-term to the end of 2018. Helsinki Lab will strengthen the competence of the City’s organisations in building user-centred services and activities.

Anne Stenros believes that design management has a lot to give where the future of Helsinki is concerned.

”Design is important on both a small and a large scale. In my opinion, however, in the centre there should be, as Alvar Aalto crystallised it so well, “the little person” – a humane experience of the city, in services as well as in the environment, and, as support of this, focusing on the user,” Anne Stenros says.