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OPEN CALL: Helsinki Design Residency 2017

OPEN CALL: Helsinki Design Residency 2017 © Luca Picardi

© Luca Picardi

3 March 2017
by Gian Luca Amadei

Applications are now open to UK-based practitioners for our Helsinki Design Residency 2017 which will explore the theme New: Material. Apply by Sunday 26 March 2017.

The British Council, in partnership with the Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP), Helsinki Design Week (HDW) and Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, is seeking applications from practitioners to participate in a residency programme in Helsinki which will culminate with the HDW (7 - 17 September 2017).

This residency was first established in 2012 during the World Design Capital programme in Helsinki. This residency is for UK-based practitioners, who work at the intersections of design, architecture and art and who have an interest in exploring and questioning what constitutes design innovation.The residency will take place in two parts: 16 - 30 May and 15 August - 18 September 2017.  

The selected designer in residence, hosted by HIAP in Helsinki, will have an opportunity to present work to local colleagues and audiences at HIAP Open Studios and through Helsinki Design Week’s programme of  events:

  • HDW PechaKucha Night, Tuesday 12 September 2017
  • Design Diplomacy event at the British Embassy in Helsinki
  • A dedicated presentation of the resident's project work will be organised according to the type of research/topic proposed by the designer in residence.

Alongside these opportunities for the resident to communicate their work, they will be able to create connections with local designers, curators, researchers and design experts.

Residency Theme

This year's theme, New: Material, invites design practitioners and critical thinkers to research, reflect and engage with the many facets of materials. The resident will explore and question materials and materiality within the evolving context of the city of Helsinki. Projects could explore areas such as:

  • Material and the body (bodily/physical vs. textual intelligence, body and time, the body as material)
  • Material and simulation
  • Material and economy (space, resources, real estate, logistics, ethical issues)
  • Material and computation (numeric material, digital material, digital materiality)

"As a young cosmopolis in a cold climate, Helsinki has been discovering its physical interaction space in the same decades that also saw the digital revolution. Many cafés and galleries have opened, but also workshops, from the traditional to the, by now casually employed, numeric. Architects make the research and application of natural building materials and traditional techniques the core pursuit of their practices, all the while software is becoming Finland’s new wood and young graphic designers deal in the digital digestion of a material world. Social and work practices are arranged to a diverging array of (im)material impulses in physical organisation, cooperation structure and communication, while the real estate environment is yet to discover temporary use." Martin Born; designer, curator and selection panel member for this year's residency.


  • Applicants must be UK-based practitioners (design, architecture, fashion, design writing, curatorial and cross-disciplinary work)
  • Applicants should have a minimum of 2 years and up to a maximum of 10 years’ experience
  • Applicants should demonstrate design excellence, skill and experience of small-scale creative practice
  • Applicants should demonstrate experience in collaborative work
  • Applicants must be able to travel to Helsinki between 16 – 30 May and 15 August – 18 September 2017

The closing date for submissions is Sunday 26 March 2017

Further details on the Helsinki Design Residency and on how to apply can be found on the Open Call document


Applications will be reviewed by a selction panel. The panel will include representatives from the British Council, HIAP, HDW, Aalto University and specialists in the application of new materials in design:

  • Gian Luca Amadei, Programme Manager Design, British Council
  • Jaana Beidler, Professor, Color and Material Design, Aalto ARTS
  • Martin Born, designer and curator
  • Juha Huuskonen, Director, HIAP
  • Rosa Tolnov Clausen, textile designer
  • Reetta Turtiainen, Producer, Helsinki Design Week

Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 31 March 2017.

Previous Designers in Residence 

Luca Picardi (2016) developed a project called ‘Familiar'; a design research publication exploring patterns of mimicry in urban regeneration projects across Europe. 

Teresa Dillon (2015) researched future plans for the city of Helsinki and proposed a free-to-use urban hut to be used by tourists visiting the city.

Tobias Revell (2014) offered a critical view into the design community in Helsinki, based on the theme Take the Leap.

Tzortzis Rallis (2013) explored the Helsinki graphic design scene on the theme of Public Acts / Quiet Riot.  

Julia Tcharfas (2012) responded to the residency theme Embedding Design in Life with a sound composition titled 'Eco-System'.