The World Design Capital goes rural
The World Design Capital (WDC) is a city promotion project by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design to recognize and award accomplishments made by cities around the world in the field of design.
With more than half the world’s population now living in urban areas, cities are facing dramatic changes in how they adapt to their rising populations and the future success of each metropolis is largely reliant on those who plan, design and manage the shared spaces and their functions.
Held biennially, this project highlight the improvements achieved by the selected cities throughout a two year-long programme of design-related events.
The first city to be awarded and chosen as World Design Capital for a biennium (2008-2009) was Turin, in Italy.
Turin’s candidature was a significant testament to the city’s projects, research and experimentation, already on their way since large renovations for 2006 winter Olympic Games had improved the city’s view.
Design has always been a cornerstone of Italian industry and Turin, together with its most famed resident, Fiat, is a shining example of what can be achieved when harnessing the full power of design.
The second city to be celebrated as World Design Capital (2010-2011) was Seoul, in South Korea.
Geographically, Korea is positioned as a bridge between its neighbours in Asia and Korea strives to connect the traditional East with the West while keeping its roots firmly planted in its history and tradition.
During the Korean War in the 50′s Seoul was abandoned by many of its residents but in the subsequent years the population expanded by the millions making it one of most densely populated cities in the world. As such, the government of Seoul has recognised the need for a master plan to help the city evolve into a cleaner, safer and more attractive place for business and tourists: a “soft city” with creative energy, centred on diversity of culture and design, eager to transform itself into an entity in which its citizens are at the heart of every consideration.
The third and actual World Design Capital is Helsinki, in Finland, which will be followed as from 2014 by Cape Town, in South Africa.
Helsinki is a great place to work and live, stable and safe, with a very high standard of living and welfare: its appointment as World Design Capital for this biennium (2012-2013) was conferred in November 2009, during the Icsid World Design Congress in Singapore.
In Helsinki, design is the booster for social, economic and cultural development, and this idea of embedded design tied to innovation from its very beginning.
Finnish design is also part of world design, as it includes well-known global brands, such as Nokia and Marimekko; popular events, like the annual Helsinki Design Week; first class education and research institutions, such as Helsinki University of Art and Design, and champions of modernism like Eliel and Eero Saarinen and Alvar Aalto.
Now, Helsinki, as the World Design Capital, wouldn’t feel to have fulfilled its targets without an urban farm.
Urban agriculture is hotter than hot these days and the idea of re-using vacant urban spaces for traditional country-side activities is appealing.
That’s why a cast-off engine turn table in a disused old railway bay down in the middle of industrial Pasila area became the foundation for an urban garden oasis, enriched with a modern greenhouse and a café.
The idea behind this project, organised by the environmental organization Dodo ry and called "Turn Table - The Urban Garden", is to produce vegetables, prepare them on the spot and serve them in a temporary restaurant made from transparent plastic and wood, giving Helsinkians the chance to learn about organic and get the inspiration to take the seed of growth to their own neighborhood.
The restaurant consists of one long rectangular table that promotes interaction among guests, giving a great response to consumer demand for more convivial experiences.
With this proposal, the Helsinki Design Capital’s vision extended the concept of design from goods to services and systems, exploring important solutions for what people really need.
"Creating successful solutions", they noted, “requires curiosity and innovation, global responsibility and transparency”.