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Pekka Timonen

What would be your advice to Latvia in laying its own road in design development?

First of all, the spread of information is essential. People must be informed about the role of design in society; about how design can improve everybody's personal life.

Second, you have to comprehend that design is a valuable instrument. This is especially important when it comes to the government, to the people who make the decisions.

The third level already deals with the ability to act; that is, utilizing the state of people being informed and comprehending the nature of design. At this level, you have to start creating and using design; and for this to work, you need skilled designers and a whole design ecosystem in which their work will be supported.

It's actually quite simple – it's not rocket science!

Another important thing is to notice the interesting relationships between design and art. This issue always comes to the forefront in discussions, but in refraining from a long and philosophical lecture, I'll state the following idea – a pulsating and rich design environment cannot exist if the art environment isn't already like that. Designers require a creative atmosphere in which designers and artists interact and communicate with one another.

In this sense, design and art are intertwined. Even if the point of art is to raise questions, whereas the job of design is to find answers. Searching for answers is at the center of design; it is a profession and a business. That's why it's necessary to have organizations and a private sector that use design, who need the services of designers.

In your opinion, are all societies ready to accept design in their daily lives? Or is this only a realm for intelligent, educated and developed societies?

Good question. Capetown (South Africa, the next World Design Capital for 2014) is a good example of the fact that a high level of development is not always an indicator. When we speak about design that is oriented towards people, it's not important how undeveloped the country may be, because design can help it rise, and to do so independently of the government.

The idea of Capetown as a capital of design is oriented towards re-unification. In redesigning the structure of the city, the goal is to unify the people, the communities, the city itself... It follows that not only well-developed cities and societies can become stations of good design.

Returning again to Finland, what kind of design is seen as unacceptable here?

Sometimes Finish design is rather serious, but sometimes it is also playful, rich... even too much so. Then it is no longer in the spirit of Finish traditions!

Often times, design can be very exclusive, even expensive, but however unique it may be – don't call it a luxury! In Finland, design is not an indicator of status.

In this context, a critical issue is that of design's sustainability. I hope that discussion on this subject will become more topical and pronounced, because the current understanding of it is lacking. Sustainable design – it's more than just about the choice of material, but there are still designers out there who, naively, think that by using recycled materials, their work can be automatically labeled as sustainable.