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… and Happy New (Design) Year

December 28, 2011

I have already been talking about Helsinki a couple of times in this blog, although I don’t know the city well at all and I have just been there a long time ago for a short while. The reason I am doing so is that I find so many good news about.

In a report from ilSole24Ore I read some weeks ago about a new screen based information system following the principle of an Urban Operating System. Urbanflow is a project based on field research in Helsinki and Tallin trying to organise a sensible “digital layer on top of the cities topography”, a “map based interface with layers of data”, “a tool for orientation, identification and discovery” which is “sustainable, scalable and friendly, built upon a foundation of transparency and open data”.   The project’s developers Nordkapp.fi and Urbanscale.org have proposed it to the municipality of Helsinki as part of the initiatives for the World Design Year 2012 and even if apparently it has not been seen as a priority, it contains a number of well organised good ideas, so that I won’t be surprised if this system will appear in some city in the next future.

The World Design Capital 2012 is an award who claims not to be one and as a matter of fact it offers much more than celebration. The WDC committe of Helsinki – lead by  former Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo – has organised 250 events around the local 10.000 design professionals community over the next year. The motto is openness of design:

We are open. For us, openness equals transparency, global responsibility and innovation. Usability, sustainability and desirability. That is what we are looking for. We design for a better life.

In fact when you think about finnish design it is more than graphic, product, interior, architectural or  urban design. It is an attitude to make things easy to use, durable, nice and friendly, never fancy, arrogant or intellectually cool. Another feature of finnish design is to be embedded in national culture, from education, trough production  to national policy. Doing more with less is something Finns have learned throughout the centuries and that is now probably their greatest competitive advantage.

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