Helsinki is Beijing Design Week’s Guest City 2020

Helsinki has been selected as Beijing Design Week’s Guest City in 2020. Helsinki will organise diverse events in Beijing over three weeks to present Helsinki as a design city and as a pioneer in the utilisation of design expertise.

The City of Helsinki is a pioneer in the utilisation of user-centric design, one example being Central Library Oodi. Photo: Vesa Laitinen, City of Helsinki

Beijing Design Week 2020, held from 22 September–7 October 2020, is the largest and most notable design festival in Asia. The festival attracts more than five million visitors each year. The designation Guest City has been conferred to nine cities before, most recently to Mexico City as this year’s Guest City.

Helsinki Deputy Mayor  Pia Pakarinen accepted Helsinki’s designation as Guest City 2020 at the closing event of Beijing Design Week 2019.

“Design is a significant factor that distinguishes Helsinki internationally, and we’re known for product and service design that supports good life in Helsinki,” Pakarinen says.

“Beijing is Helsinki’s only official sister city, and our cities maintain a close relationship. Participation in Beijing Design Week is both an opportunity for us to present our expertise and to strengthen Helsinki’s partnerships and visibility in China,” Pakarinen continues.

Helsinki creates platforms for design encounters

Helsinki’s goal is to present the city’s design expertise with the help of a novel concept, rather than with traditional exhibitions.

“We will build a new type of interactive programme of events through cooperation among the City of Helsinki, diverse actors in the field of design, educational institutions, enterprises and other partners,” says  Sanna Forsström, Head of Marketing at City of Helsinki and the City representative in charge of programme implementation.

Helsinki’s programme in Beijing will be drawn up by Luovi Productions Oy, best known for Helsinki Design Week.

“Instead of static exhibitions, we seek to create platforms for discourse, workshops and labs for new concepts. These will provide a channel to present Helsinki’s strengths as a design city,” asserts  Kari Korkman, CEO of Helsinki Design Week.

Parts of the programme and some of the discussions will be organised in digital environments. In addition, satellite events will be held in different parts of Beijing. The goal is to build an event concept that can be reproduced at other design weeks in China in the future.

Programme created through cooperation – partners being sought 

Helsinki has powerfully integrated design expertise into urban development for a number of years. At the same time, Helsinki has emerged as a global leader in the utilisation of design and the expansion of the meaning of design.

Helsinki plans to tell its design story through three main themes at Beijing Design Week. Innovations in (1) wellbeing, (2) urban development and (3) education will be used to present how Helsinki uses design to create a better everyday life for citizens.

The pervasive theme of the programme will be how to make Helsinki the most functional city in the world through good networks. Networks are also key to Helsinki in building the festival programme, which will be produced with partners. Consequently, the City of Helsinki announces an open search for partners this week, inviting programme ideas and participants for Beijing Design Week.

“We’re now looking for partners eager to build a new type of programme concept and so to increase their international brand awareness at the same time,” Korkman comments.

“We’re not reaching out only to design enterprises but more broadly to potential partners linked with educational innovations, wellbeing and urban development. Through participation, we seek to create new themes for cooperation among universities, other educational institutions, the City, start-ups and other,” Forsström points out.

The City of Helsinki is an internationally recognised pioneer in the utilisation of design. Helsinki is a leading City of Design, which has made design one of its strategic choices. Since our designation and year as World Design Capital 2012, followed by the UNESCO City of Design title in 2014, Helsinki has systematically developed the design capabilities and capacity of the City organisation. By combining design with digitalisation and dialogue, we create the best urban user experience in the most functional city in the world.

Design Helsinki


Sanna Forsström, Head of Marketing
City of Helsinki
+358 40 531 3713
Email Contact

Kari Korkman, CEO
Helsinki Design Week
+358 40 548 3767
Email Contact

Johanna Snellman
Communications Specialist
City of Helsinki
+358 40 843 0915
Email Contact

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