Designing Modern Life

I always believed that design is something that should serve the user, not the other way around. This year Helsinki celebrates it’s appointment as the World Design Capital of 2012. We bask in the glory of worldwide recognition as thousands of tourists flock to the capital and even more new students join our universities and polytechnics for their studies abroad and international degrees.

But what really makes us, or Helsinki, to be accurate,worthy of the title? Our city is a mix of old and new, often clashing together in visually explosive, even volatile ways. There is little in the way of neither coherent renaissance anywhere, nor a movement for something truly futuristic.

Helsinki is not showy, but it is functional. Our city is designed to work in every day use and life, without letting something pretty get in the way. The trams maybe sleek and stylized, but every day they slither through our cobblestone streets without a hitch. As it should be.

As we head towards the end of our year as the World Design Capital, I look back and consider the biggest improvements our capital has seen. It certainly wasn’t the music house, which looms over the previously lost beautiful architecture of the Makasiinit buildings. I believe it was the commencement of the newly designed subway line into Espoo, bringing the capital and it’s surrounding regions one step closer to a metropolitan cityscape.

As the Aalto Soft Tower project paints an image of a skyline dominated by skyscrapers and high rises, one can only hope we continue thisthinking of applicable and usable design for the future. Our country is small, the capital region even more so. So as we look to the future, and the potentiality of future Design Capital titles, one should look to the skies.