The main venue of Helsinki Design Week 2023 is Merikortteli

The design and architecture festival Helsinki Design Week presents the city again from a new angle. This September the festival will gather people together in an industrial block of buildings, a maritime quarter full of character in the shipyard district of Punavuori.

Storytelling is an important element in successful design, and Helsinki Design Week’s annual theme “Once upon a time” invites creative professionals and communities to tell their stories. This year’s festival area is full of history and stories. The Hietalahti bay area, which was a shipyard in the 19th century, is now home to creative professionals and companies. It is an international community consisting of graphic design agencies and architects’ offices, a coffee roastery, a cinema and an auction house. The city’s developmental segments can be experienced with all the senses in the first modern industrial block in Finland, where cable and crepe rubber was once manufactured.

“HDW strives to choose its venues sustainably. Our main exhibitions are placed in existing buildings without the need to build new settings. They are impressive thanks to the contrast between older architecture and modern design. The HDW main venue is easy to reach and enables the many nearby companies to offer their services to our audience and the exhibitors,” says Helsinki Design Week’s founder Kari Korkman.

“Merikortteli is an excellent example of how spaces create encounters and enliven their surroundings. Our historic, more than a hundred-year-old property is located in the middle of the Punavuori urban milieu, and creative industries are emphasized in its communal clientele. We have especially invested in a versatile service offering, so that people can come together, create new things and feel good at work and in everyday life. With the cooperation of Helsinki Design Week, we can welcome the festival audience to meet, experience and celebrate urban culture in this unique environment,” says Esa Mattila, Head of Asset Management of Antilooppi, the owner of Merikortteli. 

Merikortteli is located at the Hietalahti bay area, which was a shipyard in the 19th century. Photo: Antilooppi

Designed to make life good every day

The most relevant urban events take place where people live their daily lives. HDW’s main venue will be the top floor of the Merikortteli block of buildings, an industrial-style attic bathed in the natural light bursting in through large skylights.

In the main exhibition, everyday life will be presented via a “spatial continuum” that stretches from privacy to the community. Over just a few years, the boundary between work and leisure became blurred, and this exhibition will reveal the way our rooms are changing to encompass both. The most private end of the continuum is the bedroom, where we retire to rest and charge our batteries to gain force for a new day. Other rooms at home, including the living room and the kitchen, cater to every member of the household, and guests, too, are welcome to drop by. Offices are being developed to match the new conditions, and at the other end of the continuum, we will find a modern workshop where communities create something new.

In addition to the exhibition, Merikortteli will house a stage for panel discussions, a pop-up restaurant for encounters, an impressive series of installations and the Children’s Design Week programme. The exhibition will be curated by the founder and editor-in-chief of Asun magazine Ulla Koskinen. Lauri Johansson works as the Exhibition Architect and other contents will be designed by the HDW programme team.

“The exhibition examines how homes, work spaces and the public environment affect us. We also study how we, on our part, can develop homes and other spaces with a new kind of flexibility that meets the changing needs of people – and makes homes even more meaningful and pleasant to live and work in. The world has changed, and it has become even more necessary to find room for diversity and community without forgetting privacy. Helsinki Design Week’s Main Event wants both the exhibitors as well as visitors to wake up and think about what makes homes, workspaces and other common places inviting and functional,” says Ulla Koskinen.

Everyone is welcome to join

Helsinki Design Week’s high quality international programme is created in cooperation with the local creative community. The HDW team invites interior design professionals, companies and designers to present how to live well every day with their products and services. The physical premises will be the most visible dimension of the exhibition, but the entire event would not be complete without its more intangible elements. After all, digital solutions decisively affect the good life both at home and in the office. Merikortteli will also present the new and the young, when Aalto University Contemporary Design MA Graduation Show takes over an exhibition space. 

Helsinki Design Week will take place all around the city

The call for companion and satellite events is now open. The HDW team understands design broadly, and over the years, creativity has been embraced in thousands of different types of events during the festival. This year the programme will also include the classics, such as the Design Market at the Cable Factory, Design Diplomacy discussions at different embassies, the Open Studios tours, Children’s Design Week, PechaKucha Night plus plenty of inspiring content at showrooms.

Interested in Exhibiting at the Main venue? Contact HDW team via email at If you’d wish to know about other ways of participating, go to the “Get Involved” section on the HDW website to find participation instructions for designers, companies and organizations. Helsinki Design Week will take place at 8–17 September 2023.