About HDL

Helsinki Design Lab was an initiative by Sitra, The Finnish Innovation Fund, to advance strategic design. HDL was concerned with re-examining, re-thinking, and re-designing the systems we've inherited from the past.

The most recent iteration of HDL ran 2009-2013.


Governments (and large organizations) face tremendous transformation challenges if they want to maintain viability in the future. The challenge today is to develop pathways to systemic & strategic improvements that affect how decisions are made. To successfully make improvements happen, governments will engage the monumental task of redesigning both the boundaries of complex problems and the ways they deliver solutions. All of this must happen without the ability to press 'pause' while institutions are redesigned.

By offering an integrated approach to defining problems and developing solutions, strategic design is an essential capability for governments that aim to meet the challenges of tomorrow. Helsinki Design Lab accelerates the integration of design and government by establishing strategic design as a core discipline in supporting governmental decision making and service delivery.


During the summer of 1968, Sitra sponsored the Industrial, Environmental, and Product Design Seminar, which was largely responsible for introducing integrated product design to Finland. This opened the door for a broader discussion between designers and industry and is part of Finland's recognized legacy of design leadership. Forty years later, in collaboration with the Tapio Wirkkala - Rut Bryk FoundationHDL 2008 was held in commemoration of that event to discuss the potential of design in our contemporary era.

Noting that industry and design can work together harmoniously, we've now turned our attention to challenges at a new scale: government. From 2009-2013, Helsinki Design Lab has expanded beyond its previous event focus and operated as a mission-driven initiative powered by Sitra, in collaboration with an evolving group of global partners.