Helsinki Design Lab is an initiative by Sitra, The Finnish Innovation Fund, to advance strategic design as a way to re-examine, re-think, and re-design the systems we've inherited from the past. We advance knowledge, capability, and achievement in strategic design using three main tools:
- HelsinkiDesignLab.org: Our website is built for sharing like-minded work happening around the world. In addition to the HDL case studies, our blog is a source for the latest conversation about the discipline of strategic design, and the changing role of design in the world. The goal of this site is to help expand knowledge about strategic design methods and opportunities.
- HDL Global: This event provides a forum for a global community of government stakeholders and strategic designers to gain insight into strategic design and its methods of delivering results. Invitation event.
- HDL Methods: These include the HDL Studio Model: Within Finland, Helsinki Design Lab occasionally develops its own experiments that bring leading strategic designers together with content experts to create applied solutions for real problems currently faced by government. We call these gatherings "studios."
From Helsinki to … ?
Although HDL is based in Helsinki, we do not limit our discussion to Finland, the EU, or any specific area. We’re invested in advancing strategic design wherever it may contribute to the resolution of complex problems, and in doing so learning from these activities wherever practice is emerging.
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.
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 Foundation, HDL 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. Since 2009, Helsinki Design Lab has expanded beyond its previous event focus and now operates as a mission-driven initiative powered by Sitra, in collaboration with an evolving group of global partners.