Alternative Design Capital

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Designpääkaupungin eturintamassa
Designhuvudstadens avant-garde
The avant-garde of the Design Capital

Best of ADC Facebook page

These photos posted on ADC Facebook page gathered the most attention:

21 January (by Arto Sivonen)
Rainbow fileesuikale 2:49 ei mahdu mun käsitykseen designista. Hivenen päälleliimattua.

2 February
What a lovely cake! “Hyvällä maulla on muotonsa” (in Hakaniemi, Helsinki)

16 February
By dusk, the manifesto includes words “elephant”, “experiment” and “jump”.

20 March
Finnish design failures in 2012: The penis-penguin coat rack for children. A part of Sokos ‘ciraf’ collection, made in China.

2 April (by HYY)
Vessavau! HYYn hallitus paljastaa salaliiton! World Design Capital 2012 Helsinki -logo on selvä kopio hallituksen vessan ilmanvaihtoventtiilistä. Seuraamme tilannetta paikan päällä herkeämättä. Katso kuvat!

Vilken chock! HUS styrelsen avslöjar allt – en konspiration bakom World Design Capital!

HYY board reveals a conspiracy behind World Design Capital!

7 May
ADC absolutely blossoms this week! Tiivis ADC tapahtumaviikko on alkamassa! Featuring / mukana menossa: Siivouspäivä / Cleaning day, Kallio Kukkii ja Soi! street art event, Helsinginkadun kukitus guerilla gardening event, Camp Pixelache – Do It With Other unconference, Utooppinen alue / Utopian zone urban utopias + yksi tapahtuma Mikkelissä / one satellite event in Mikkeli!

29 May
Nehän ovat kuin kaksi marjaa…



ADC blossoms this week! ADC kukoistaa tällä viikolla!

Kallio Kukkii ja Soi!

A lovely ADC event week is just about to begin! Hieno ADC tapahtumaviikko on juuri käynnistymässä!

Featuring / mukana menossa: Siivouspäivä / Cleaning day, Kallio Kukkii ja Soi! street art event, Helsinginkadun kukitus guerilla gardening event, Camp Pixelache – Do It With Other unconference, Utooppinen alue / Utopian zone urban utopias + yksi tapahtuma Mikkelissä / one satellite event in Mikkeli!

Lisätietoja / More information: ADC Tapahtumat / Events

Makerlab Milan

If anyone is going to Milan this month, ADC warmly recommends you to check out the Makerlab activities. Their agenda is very similar to ours, they want to work with people who:

  • Like to empower others to design, self-organise, and collaborate;
  • Are political about their work;
  • Like to experiment,
  • Like to share their findings Open Source;
  • Consider them self  Creative Activists;
  • Like to do co-working, but can also function independently
  • Are creative about resources;
  • Combine traditional techniques and last technologies;

More information:

Creating counter-narratives: Alastair Fuad-Luke on design activism

I met up with Alastair Fuad-Luke early on a Sunday morning to talk about design activism.

Alastair is currently based in Helsinki as Professor of Practice in Emerging Design Practices at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (that’s a long title!). Alastair will stay in Finland until December 2014 (at least) and is dividing his time between Aalto University in Helsinki and City of Lahti / Lahti University of Applied Sciences.

Alastair – could you introduce yourself briefly?

I was trained as an inter-disciplinarian and graduated as an environmental scientist in late 70s. I then started my doctoral research in applied biology in Cambridge, but this research was never completed since I set up a consultancy on ecological design – to repair industrial environments. I specialised in ecology and systems thinking and was working with planners, geologists, computer scientists, municipalities, etc. The consultancy soon evolved into an ecological landscape design and build company which is still functioning today, although I have not personally been involved since 1990.

I started to teach design in late 90s, I gave my first lecture on ‘eco-design’ in 1998.

Your most recent book is titled ‘Design activism’. How would you define design activism?

The preliminary definition can be found from the page 27 (this was written in 2009):

Design activism is ‘design thinking, imagination and practice applied knowingly or unknowingly to create a counter-narrative aimed at generating and balancing positive social, institutional, environmental and/or economic change’.
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Memo from ADC Gathering #1

In the first ADC Gathering, 9 different ADC projects were introduced by their initiators. We made a thematic map of all the projects and explored various ways to make connections between them. Then we proceeded to make these connections very concrete: each project could make a list of their needs and what they could offer for other projects, and people could sign up if they were interested in getting involved in a certain project. Each project found new participants – in the end each list had 5-15 names!

Memo from the ADC Gathering #1 here:

What will happen in the first ADC Gathering?

ADC Gathering #1 will focus on the actual projects and events which have so far signed up to ADC. The goal is to give a positive boost to there projects via concrete action – by getting more people involved in various different ways.

One exercise we will do is that we will make one big map of all ADC projects and try to see how they connect to one another – what topics, goals and motivations do they share?

This is how map-making will approximately look like (two photos from a similar exercise in Sitra New Democracy programme):


Update: WDC Helsinki has become more open!

It’s worthwhile to note that during the recent weeks, Helsinki WDC has become more open! The main example of this increased openness is the fact that *anyone* can organise an event as a part of the WDC Helsinki Open Doors Weekend, taking place on 3-5 Feb. Earlier (in the programme announcement event in November 2011) it was stated that this weekend would focus on the official Helsinki WDC projects.

Additionally, based on word-of-mouth information, it seems that many new actors have been recruited to participate in the official WDC programme, and some of them have even received some funding.

This development could be partly seen as a victory for ADC – it’s likely that the plentiful critique Helsinki WDC has received about lack of openness has influenced their agenda.

On the other hand, this change in the WDC agenda is a challenge for ADC – since almost any actor can somehow be a part of WDC, it does no longer make much sense to define ADC only as a platform for projects which are not part of the official programme. We have to take a more pro-active role in defining the ADC agenda and we have already made some decisions regarding this. As an example, we will soon have ‘ADC Ambassadors’ related to different themes, areas of design and cities/neighbourhood.

But – the WDC critique is not completely over. Funding is still unbalanced and we have to return to this in 2013, when we get more information about how the money was actually spent. The areas of design that WDC focuses on are still too narrow, and this is something that ADC can try to fix this year. There is also plenty of room for more bold, open-ended experimentation and this is also something that ADC can try to support and catalyse.