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Helsinki Design Week partners with Virtual Helsinki to create street-long virtual art intervention as festival launches hybrid digital and physical format for 2020

September 4, 2020 Visit Europe No Comments Email Email

Helsinki Design Week, the Finnish capital’s renowned multidisciplinary festival, will this year run as a hybrid digital and physical format. Running from 3rd – 13th September its main exhibition programme being 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, transforming the city’s main shopping street Aleksanterinkatu with three installations from emerging Finnish designers. The project will transform the city 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 events will include:

  • Climate College, Friday 4th September

The Climate College introduces leading speakers and viewpoints in the field of urban planning and an eco-friendly future in cities. Mayor of Helsinki, Jan Vapaavuori, will open the day, with Hanna Harris, Chief Design Officer at the City of Helsinki, hosting the session. Registration and information here: https://www.helsinkidesignweek.com/events/climatecollege/

  • Data-Driven Design Day, Tuesday 8th September

The theme for this year’s event is “Committed to Excellent Services for Everyone”. The full-day conference will share inspiring stories about developing products and services based on data to enhance customer experience and business. You can expect thoughts and practical tips on how to utilize data in design from experts in the field. Information here: https://www.helsinkidesignweek.com/data-driven-design-day/
(VIP registration through ING Media.)

Helsinki Design Week is the latest event to take place in Virtual Helsinki and follows the unprecedented success of the virtual May Day concert earlier in the year. The event saw over 700,000 people tune in live to a virtual gig with Finnish rap stars JVG, totalling over 1.4million views by the end of the weekend. Helsinki, which was crowned as the most innovative region in the EU by the European Commission in 2019 and awarded the European Capital of Smart Tourism in 2019, is at the forefront of technical innovation. With a democratic approach to data and knowledge sharing, the city operates much like a city-wide test bed. By facilitating public and private collaborations the city is demonstrating how policies like open data and digital twins can benefit citizens and visitors alike.

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