For two days in January Helsinki and Paris will be World Design Capital

My favourite city is Helsinki, or perhaps its Paris, no Helsinki, Paris! It is a choice I won’t have to make next January as I can enjoy two days when Helsinki and Paris will be World Design Capital. The 8th International Conference on the Challenges of Design Support in Europe will take place in Paris on Monday 10th and Tuesday 11th January 2011 in Cité des Sciences et de l’industrie. Organised by the Agency for the Promotion of Industrial Creation (Agence pour la promotion de la création industrielle [APCI]) the first day of the event will focus on the career paths of design professionals.

The second day will be co-presented by APCI, World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 and the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design [Icsid] and will focus on the following issues:

– the broad impact of the WDC application process on the regional design resources (professionals, clients, schools, institutions etc.)

– an essential axis of Helsinki’s project: using design to promote citizen’s welfare. The municipality (and the neighboring ones) intend to transform Public Service using design approaches and design thinking

– starting a dialog between Helsinki, ambassador of a European spirit of design, and the global challenges of the profession. In other words, to what extent, and how, design might contribute to build communities that can evolve in harmony.

Those who manage World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 have long ago decided that one year was ‘insufficient’ to celebrate Helsinki as a World Design Capital and that the celebration should begin by 2011, run through 2012 and continue beyond the designated year.

I visited Helsinki in October and already the Design District was humming with anticipation – their 2010/2011 design book was published and on sale, the discrete blue window stickers proclaiming World Design Capital 2012 were on display and everyone was willing to discuss design and WDC. I am a frequent visitor to Finland and I know this is as close as the (reserved) Finns get to public euphoria (leaving aside Finnish “horror rock” group Lordi and their surprise win at the 51st Eurovision Song Contest.)

Created in 1983 with the intention of the bringing together of culture, research and industry, in collaboration with its members and its partners, APCI develops tools and group actions that provoked the economic, social and cultural aspects of French design in France and abroad.

Founded in 1957 the primary aim of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design [Icsid] is to advance the discipline of industrial design at an international level. Icsid is a non-profit organisation that protects and promotes the interests of the profession of industrial design.

World Design Capital (WDC)

Under the direction of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid), the WDC promotes the importance of good design strengthening and empowering cities to use design to position their competitive advantages from a social, cultural and economic point of view. The World Design Capital project is a biennial international designation created to identify and recognise cities that have effectively used design to revive the city and improve its quality of life.

Further conference information:
Jean Schneider
Chef de project / APCI Project manager, email:

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