The biyearly tradition of naming a World Design Capital began in 2008. The first city to earn the title was Turin, Italy; the next, in 2010, was Seoul, South Korea. In 2012 the World Design Capital will be Helsinki, Finland. The tradition was started by the Canada-based nonprofit organization Icsid (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design), which works to popularize and develop industrial design throughout the world.
Design: Benefiting Us All
Bearing the name the World Design Capital (WDC) is a year-long responsibility. Similar to the European Capital of Culture, a World Design Capital must organize a string of thematic events under the auspices of its new status. Today, more than half of the world’s citizens live in cities. Design has become an important tool used to promote the welfare of urban life. This project shows design’s potential not only to be embodied various things, but also to strategically develop the urban environment and influence the economy, culture, and quality of life of residents. Any city that acts in accordance with the commandments of design, or consciously moves in their direction, can become the World Design Capital, regardless of its popularity or population. The WDC title isn’t a medal merely affixed for a city’s prior accomplishments; rather, it promotes an acceleration in the development of the selected city, mobilizing developments in the creative industries.
Open Helsinki 2012
The starting shot for Helsinki as the World Design Capital will be heard on December 31, when, according to tradition, the title-bearing city marches into the design year with celebratory pomp on New Year’s Eve (known as the New Year’s Eve of Design). A joyous sense of anticipation will be stirred in the city’s residents, who will already be drawn into the celebrations and thematic events on the big night.
Throughout the year, the guiding motif of WDC Helsinki 2012 will be “Open Helsinki – Design Embedded in People Lives.” The design philosophy of the Finnish capital is to ensure that the end result will work to people’s benefit. Not only an aesthetic but also a useful design, which becomes a long-term companion and doesn’t vanish with the changing seasons.