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City designers build design into city development

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From WDC Helsinki 2012. The legacy of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 will live on in Design Driven City, a two-year project to promote the use of design in cities of the larger Helsinki area. The project will hire professional designers to work in the city organizations.
The Design Driven City project stems from the awareness that successful cities of the future possess strong design competencies and make extensive use of design. The project seeks to put design firmly at the core of the development of public services and to strengthen user-oriented approaches in city service design.

“World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 inspired cities to review the possibilities offered by design, and the new project will help cities to apply the methods of formal design processes,” says International Design Foundation board member Marco Steinberg. He explains that design can help cities to find new and often radical ways to operate and to visualize their future.

The Design Driven City project  will hire three “city designers”, that is, professional designers who will put their design know-how to concrete uses working side by side with city staff in city development processes. The city designers will be tasked to identify areas where design can be applied and to define the ways to apply design in these areas.

Among their many functions, the city designers can deepen city-staff understanding of citizen needs, and they can propose ways to encourage citizens to take more active roles in city decision making and development.

As well as coaching city staff in the possibilities and practices of design, the Design Driven City project will educate the larger public sector and participate in public discussion about design.


Cities believe in the power of design

“Helsinki believes in the power of design,” says Helsinki Economic Development Director Marja-Leena Rinkineva, adding that the city designers will be working in real, concrete development projects.

Rinkineva stresses that the Design Driven City project continues the process begun by World Design Capital Helsinki 2012, which put Helsinki in international headlines as a metropolitan area that makes use of design.

“Design Driven City manifests that design will continue to feature prominently on Helsinki’s agenda,” she says.

Design Driven City will play a role in advancing the goals of the national Finnish design programme Designing Finland’s Future, launched in March 2013, by setting an example to other Finnish communities. The project’s participating cities will fulfill the national mission by sharing their experiences in the use of design with the rest of Finland.

Design Driven City relies on broad-based cooperation, similar to World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. The participating cities are Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Lahti, which are joined by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy. The larger Design Driven City network also includes a wide range of design actors, professional design organizations, the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, and the Institute of Design and Fine Arts of the Lahti University of Applied Sciences. The total budget for 2014-2015 is €1.5 million.

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