Saturday, 14 January 2012

World Design Capital – Wassat?

This is a very special year for Finland's capital, Helsinki. It is the World Design Capital for 2012, no less!

When I first heard about this, I thought “that’s cool!”, or something equally meaningless but nonetheless expressing the appropriate mix of surprise and admiration.

But then I wondered: “Actually, what does that mean?”

Helsinki (and indeed Finland) is of course the home of some very cool, internationally renowned designer brands, including Marimekko, Iittala, Artek, Pentik, and let's not forget Nokia. They must be cool brands, because even Madonna bought some Finnish designy stuff when she visited Helsinki on her 2009 Sticky and Sweet tour.

So what about being World Design Capital?

This is a title bestowed by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID), “an international non-governmental organisation that aims to protect and promote the profession of industrial design”. The ICSID's web site goes on to explain that the “World Design Capital designation is a city promotion project that celebrates the accomplishments of cities that have used design as a tool to reinvent themselves and improve social, cultural and economic life”.

And how did Helsinki become World Design Capital?

Well, I assume they must have followed the ICSID's submission process, and put in a application accompanied by a €5,000 non-refundable fee. Then when they got short-listed in 2009, they must have payed the €15,000 non-refundable fee to cover the ICSID's administrative and logistical expenses. And now they have been selected as World Design Capital, they will be paying the ICSID €150,000 over 3 years. Of course, it's not all about money. Helsinki faced some tough competition from the other short-listed city, the mighty design-powerhouse that is Eindhoven in The Netherlands.

Now that Helsinki has committed €170,000 of tax-payers' money to getting a fancy title, what will it do with it? The answer is: lots of things, like seminars, workshops and exhibitions. Check out the web-site here.

So there you have it. In 2011, Helsinki's arch-rival and former Finnish capital city, Turku, was the European Capital of Culture. In 2012, Helsinki has gone one better, by becoming a World Capital!

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know any of that! Thank you! :)

    - Chloe / @raitapaita