Helsinki Design Week 2023 Set to Inspire from September 8-17

Photo: HDW 2021 Aleksi Poutanen

Get ready to mark your calendars for an unmissable event that promises to bring design enthusiasts, innovators, and creators together like never before. Helsinki Design Week 2023 is all set to dazzle and inspire, taking place from September 8th to 17th. This annual extravaganza is the largest design festival in the Nordics, and it’s ready to showcase a remarkable blend of creativity, innovation, and artistic expression

The unique stories of HDW’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.  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.  

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. 

HDW_Design market2022_(c)Aleksi Poutanen.jpg
HDW_Design market2022_(c)Aleksi Poutanen.jpg

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.

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.