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Helsinki Design Residency: Open Call Extended to 8 April 2018

Helsinki Design Residency: Open Call Extended to 8 April 2018   © Luca Picardi

© Luca Picardi

27 March 2018
by Gian Luca Amadei

Applications are now open to UK-based practitioners for our Helsinki Design Residency 2018 which will explore the theme Arranging Practice: Proximity, Distance, Instance. Apply by Tuesday 8 April 2018.

The British Council, in partnership with the Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) and Helsinki Design Week (HDW) and Aalto University, is seeking applications from practitioners to participate in a residency programme in Helsinki which will culminate with the HDW (6 - 16 September 2018).

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: 14 - 27 May and 13 August - 18 September 2018.  

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 
  • 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

In recent years, designers, architects and artists have been researching organisational models that question design practice by rearranging its parameters of proximity and distance, both conceptually and practically. Interest in the immediate contact with material, and emphasis on exchanges within limited (territorial) radii, have brought about attentiveness to co-creative processes in design, architecture and urbanism, as well as a resurging interest in the purpose and place of craft. Simultaneously, endeavours in the digital space have spurred a diversity of crowd, peer-to-peer, sharing and other cooperative models that propose different, spatially distributed, forms of cooperation.    

At once triggered and challenged by factors such as legislation, geo-economics and environmental issues, these new practices seek ways of being responsible actors in society and with material. However, as with everything new, fresh complexities emerge. The 2018 Helsinki design residency programme invites practitioners to explore those complexities together with questions that may include, without being limited to:

  • The concept, place and re-evaluation of ‘critical distance’ in cooperative settings (e.g. the tension between exclusion/seclusion and inclusion/mediation/compromise in creative processes);
  • The influence of tools and materials on creative/critical perspectives and vice versa (e.g. the range of outlooks between craft and design);
  • The extents and the limitations of cooperative practice;
  • The position of the contemporary object in relation to its historical states of proximity (e.g. the locally made unique), distance (e.g. the industrially produced serial) and instance (e.g. the digitally materialised).

As a stage for dense interaction and individual alienation, the city offers a historically singular context for studying the overlapping influences of proximity and distance in contemporary creative practice and on society at large. Therefore, environments that embody these influences differently (e.g. historically, geographically) may also provide research possibilities (e.g. city vs. village, centre vs. periphery, digital vs. physical).


  • 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 14 – 27 May and 13 August – 18 September 2018

The closing date for submissions is Sunday 8 April 2018

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 and specialists in design:

  • Gian Luca Amadei, Programme Manager Design, British Council
  • Martin Born, designer and curator
  • Juha Huuskonen, Director, HIAP
  • Rosa Tolnov Clausen, textile designer
  • Helena Fernström, Helsinki Design Week
  • Juror name from Aalto University to be announced in late March

Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 13 April 2018.

Previous Designers in Residence 

F͡RA̴UD̸  (2017) Artist duo Audrey Samson & Francisco Gallardo investigated the emerging material realm of carbon derivatives materials. 

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'.