Helsinki Design Week offers surprising encounters in September 2023

The unique stories of Helsinki Design Weeks’s main exhibition, reflecting on the theme of a good everyday life, together with the numerous partner and satellite events, fall into the continuum of HDW’s narrative and this year’s theme Once upon a time. During September’s festival, the stories of the city’s creative makers will be told, and we will try to listen carefully to those whose stories are so far less known. The programme includes exhibitions, discussions, parties, sales events, open houses, fashion shows and much more. Most of the programme is free of charge, and tickets for the Main Exhibition are on sale now. HDW’s Main Exhibition tackles changes in work and living spaces – The unique main location at Merikortteli offers a Talks programme and inspiring encounters for both professionals and wider audiences on 13–17 September The Main Exhibition of the largest design and architecture festival in the Nordic countries will take over an entire city block in a central location in coastal Helsinki. The historic Merikortteli block offers an endless number of stories and an atmospheric setting for HDW’s main events. Much is happening in the shipyard blocks of Punavuori: a new city district is being built in the area, and new people have moved into the existing premises. Wandering around today, you can find a cinema as well as numerous new restaurants, brick-and-mortar shops and workspaces.

Helsinki Design Weeks

Perämiehenkatu’s Moko will also be reimagined with a Southern European-style bistro with longer opening hours.

The Main Exhibition is curated by Ulla Koskinen, Editor-in-Chief of Asun Magazine, with designer Lauri Johansson as the Exhibition Architect.“The slanted roof lines of the top floor of the historical building of Merikortteli with their fine window openings and the traces left by time create an interesting background for the objects and spaces in the space of the main exhibition. A natural tension arises, when a dialogue between the new products, installations and ideas are presented there. Press release 10 May 2023

Helsinki Design Week offers surprising encounters, meetings with old friends, and new perspectives to the city in September. The full programme has now been published.

The theme of the exhibition explores and interprets the nature of spaces at a time when the previously clear roles of home, private space, workplace and other public environments are changing. Homes offer even more of a platform for our work, and offices seek inspiration from relaxation and cosiness. The private and the public intertwine, and something changes. At the same time, however, a lot of what is familiar and perceived as safe remains around us. The balance is built in a new way,” says Ulla Koskinen. Innovative material solutions, inspiring collaborations and more will be displayed by dozens of exhibitors, including Artek & Juslin Maunula, Interface, Johanna Gullichsen, and Skanno. In addition to the Main Exhibition, the top floor of the building will host a varied Talks Programme for both professionals and wider audiences. The Let Me Wine Bar x HDW, where you can listen to the Talks or just reflect upon the experiences gained at HDW over a glass of wine, will also open above the city roofs for the duration of the event. The Talks programme will include the winner of the Helsinki Design Award granted by Helsinki Design Week together with the city of Helsinki. This year, the winner, who will be announced at the opening of the main exhibition, will represent the best of design education in Helsinki. You can tune into the new, rebellious edge of design on Merikortteli’s ground floor, where the spaces will be taken over by, among others, Aalto University students from different fields. Processuality and incompleteness are an intrinsic part of creative work and at the core of design. Open discussion, a nurturing dialogue and the collision of new discoveries with familiar structures are an integral part of HDW’s operations, which will become visible on the ground floor of the Main Exhibition. On view will be prototypes and installations from emerging creators in the fields of interior architecture and lighting. Works from the Imagine Everyday – Outsider Art Finland exhibition, which has also been on view at the Institut Finlandais in Paris, will be displayed. The Feel the fashion! body of content is a working group exhibition aiming to expand the public discussion around fashion. Children’s Design Week gives the floor to the smallest citizens: What does a children’s city look like? Children’s Design Week, an integral part of HDW’s programme, this year celebrates the 10th anniversary of a long-time partner, the Finnish Association of Design Learning, Suomu. Suomu offers experiential learning methods by doing and experimenting.

Helsinki Design Weeks

Children’s Design Week will take place at the main event venue and at Kaapelitehdas. Its highlight will be a demonstration where young participants can imagine their own ideal city. Approachable, free of charge activities cultivating togetherness are central to Children’s Design Week. Listening to children and peer learning are the focal points of the programme. The main partners of Children’s Design Week include two Finnish family companies with exciting stories: Hakola and Tactic. With HDW you can sneak a peek into the everyday life of creatives, learn about international design in ambassadors’ residences and experience the coming together of music, art and design in various showrooms. Helsinki Design Award Helsinki Design Week’s long-established recognition of merit will once again be awarded in cooperation with the City of Helsinki. In 2022, in the spirit of the World Design Capital anniversary year, urban design was awarded. This year’s focus is in the current field of design education. Over the summer, a multidisciplinary jury will choose a person or a working group who has promoted design education in our city, and the winner will be announced as part of the opening of the Main Exhibition. Design education provides tools for, for example, critical, conscious and ecological consumption, as well as for observing and enjoying the beauty of one’s surroundings. Open Studios on 8 and 15 September As always, Helsinki Design Week will spread throughout the city. Uncovering the everyday lives of creative workers to the public, Open Studios allows you to enter the spaces and studios of designers. Included are, among others, Design Studio Amerikka, Kobra Agency, Avarrus Architects, Hellon and Studio Bom. Art Goes Showroom on 13–16 September Helsinki Design Week has the pleasure to team up with Art Goes Kapakka, another significant agent promoting urban culture in Helsinki! The new Art Goes Showroom concept brings live music to the showrooms of interesting design brands and creates new connections between creative workers and crowds. The event is both organised for curious Helsinkians and for industry professionals as an invited guest event.

Design Diplomacy on 8–15 September Realised in dozens of cities worldwide, HDW’s original concept Design Diplomacy offers again this year a series of exceptional, intimate discussions in embassy residences around Helsinki. In the events, a design professional from each host country meets a Finnish designer over a game of cards. Visitors are given the opportunity to experience carefully guarded interiors over a one-of-a-kind discussion: each encounter is unique and marks the first meeting of the players. Design Market and Collector’s Market on 9–10 September A beloved HDW classic, Design Market gains a new flavour this year, as the Collectors’ Market brings unique and recycled artefacts to the Cable Factory. In line with HDW’s annual theme Once Upon a Time, the Collectors’ Market will tell the stories behind the hand-picked vintage products. At the Design Market, selected design companies bring discounted items to sell, including last-season products, prototypes and items of substandard quality. Soft down products will be offered by Joutsen, and closets will be filled by Samuji, R-Collection and Nomen Nescio. Way Bakery, a Helsinki favourite, will be set up at Cable Factory for the weekend. PechaKuchaNight with Aalto University Pre-HDW on 6 September PechaKucha Night will once again be organised together with Helsinki Design Week’s long-term collaborator, Aalto University. Already a tradition, surprising talks from dozens of top designers and thinkers will be heard as part of the opening celebrations of the Designs for a Cooler Planet exhibition at the Aalto University Undergraduate Center in Otaniemi, designed by Alvar Aalto. The full list of speakers will be published during the summer. The Open Call for Programme ensures the versatility of the festival The multidisciplinary city festival celebrates creativity in museums, galleries, homes and shops. The Companion and Satellite events selected for the event calendar already include product launches, urban installations and fashion shows, as well as a ping pong tournament among creative studios. September will also bring seminars on legal design, inclusive customer experience planning and sustainable wardrobes. The Swedish designer Jenny Nordberg’s exhibition will open in the Design Museum, and the traditional Empty Bowls event in cooperation with Unicef will be opened in the Crypt of the Helsinki Cathedral.

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Silvia Kabaivanova

As the founder of Be Global Fashion Network and several other fashion websites, Silvia has been working for more than 20 years covering fashion industry trends and news. With a passion for the fashion business, she focuses on sustainable fashion and innovations, custom fashion and print on demand services. Silvia is a Chairman of Bulgarian Fashion Association. You can reach her at

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