Design Diplomacy

When Fri 08.09.2023 - Sun 17.09.2023
Where Helsinki

Helsinki Design Week always features an international programme, exemplified by HDW’s original concept, Design Diplomacy, that has been recreated in dozens of cities around the world.

Once again this series of ten events will produce unique, intimate conversations in embassy residencies around Helsinki. During the event a design professional from the hosting country is to meet a Finnish designer over a card game. Visitors will have an opportunity to experience carefully guarded interiors and unique conversations as in each situation the interlocutors meet for the first time.

The host countries include Iceland, Ireland, UK, Denmark, The Netherlands, Spain, Latvia, Estonia and Uruguay.


Registration for the Design Diplomacy has been closed.

Iceland, 8 Sept. at 1-3 pm, Pohjoisranta 10a, 00100 Helsinki
In the residence, located in the building from year 1900, designed by architects Lars Sonck and Onni Törnqvist, the conversation will flow under the beautiful ceilings in the spirit of Art Nouveau. The apartment was a students’ dormitory in the 1970s when large rooms and halls were converted into small studios. It has been the residence of the Ambassador of Iceland since 1999 when it was renovated to match the original style.
Meet Sigríður Sunna Reynisdóttir, founder of ÞYKJÓ design collective. With a scenography and festival background, she curates diverse, multi-disciplinary projects. ÞYKJÓ collaborates with architects, children's culture, fashion, and graphic designers, joining forces with artists, scientists, scholars, and children. Projects include Hljóðhimnar at Harpa, SHELLters furnitecture, Superheroes of the Earth costumes, and Animelodies toys. ÞYKJÓ was shortlisted for Icelandic Design Awards 2021 and 2022.
Finnish designer Jonathan Ingberg graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2017, specializing in men's wear design. He has experience collaborating with esteemed fashion houses such as Balenciaga and Tiger of Sweden. In 2020, Ingberg founded his own project, By Hinders, in collaboration with local artisans, creating timeless garments that seamlessly blend skilled craftsmanship and practical style.
Ireland, 8 Sept. at 5-7 pm, Pohjoisranta 2 F, 00170 Helsinki
Since 2021, the official residence of the Embassy of Ireland is located at Pohjoisranta 2. In addition to serving as the private residence of the ambassador, the residence plays an important role as an entertainment and networking venue for the embassy. Pohjoisranta 2 residential block was designed by architect Kirsti Sivén. It is located on the site of a former tobacco factory and the design project entailed a great deal of balancing between contemporary demands, respect for the existing setting, and the requirements of the Helsinki town plan. The residence, a contemporary venue for representing Ireland and its craft and design heritage, features stunning views over Pohjoissatama harbour.
Oscar Torrans is an Irish designer and creative director now based in London, working within music, fashion, and art. His client roster includes Warp Records, Simone Rocha, and Nike, where he creates deep visual worlds and narratives. Beyond client work, Oscar explores Irish identity via Passage Tomb—a project delving into pre-Christian Ireland ceremony and its contemporary echoes.
Rakastaja Robert, also known as Robert Lönnqvist, is a Helsinki-based illustrator who plays an active role on the board of Kuvittajat ry and imparts his expertise in illustration as an educator at Aalto University
Great Britain, 11 Sept. at 5-7 pm, Itäinen Puistotie 15, 00140 Helsinki
The British Ambassador’s residence is one of the most beautiful villas in Helsinki’s Kaivopuisto district. Designed by architect Jarl Eklund, the building was completed in 1918. It has served as the British Ambassador’s residence for over 90 years and has hosted many noteworthy events, such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Helsinki’s Olympic Games in 1952 and the Queen’s visit in 1976. Today, the residence remains largely the same as in the early years, doubling as the ambassador’s private residence and as a location for embassy events.
Annemarie O'Sullivan is a masterful artisan who weaves intricate tales of nature's beauty using time-honored techniques. With an artistry rooted in weaving and binding methods that have spanned millennia, Annemarie creates exquisite baskets, lighting, and woven objects, each a reflection of the materials she gathers from the land and waterways. Her passion lies in witnessing the transformation from raw source to the finished masterpiece, exemplifying a deep connection to her craft.
Ervin Latimer
Denmark, 12 Sept. at 1-3, Yrjönkatu 9 A, 00100 Helsinki
The residence of the Danish embassy is the oldest of the residencies in Helsinki and located in the Helsinki Design District, in a building designed by architect Sigurd Frosterus opposite Vanha Kirkkopuisto (the old church park). This year, the residence has been in diplomatic use by Denmark for 100 years. The residence is spacious, and its big rooms allow various functions in a setting surrounded by modern art and Danish design furniture. All Design Diplomacy guests are also invited to see a mini exhibition by Carl Hansen & Søn at one of the rooms of the residence.
Susanne Renée Grunkin is a visionary landscape architect specializing in sustainable urban design. She creates resilient, nature-embracing cityscapes, harmonizing social, environmental, and economic aspects. As Senior Creative Manager at Arkitema, she shapes greener cities, fostering a sustainable future. In addition, she is a member of the steering group for the Danish part of the European Green Cities campaign and was chairman of the Danish Association of Landscape Architects from 2015-2021.
Niina Sihto is one of the four co-founders of the internationally acclaimed design agency Fyra. Specialized in workplace design and concepts, she handles different cross-sectional projects while also teaching interior architecture at Aalto University. Fyra is a Helsinki based design agency focused on functionality, aesthetics, and branding through interior design. Mastered in hotel and restaurant spaces as well as working environments, real estate development, different concepts, and cross-sectional projects, Fyra has claimed its place as a responsible and proactive player in the industry.
The Netherlands, 12 Sept. at 4-6 pm Itäinen Puistotie 7, 00140 Helsinki
Villa Kleineh: from a summer villa for Russian and Baltic spa visitors to the official residence of the Netherlands ambassador. The villa is one of the oldest wooden houses in Helsinki. Nowadays the building functions as the home of the ambassador. In addition to that it is used as a venue to organize business meetings and events to strengthen the (business) cooperation between Finland and the Netherlands.
Marjanne Cuypers-Henderson, the visionary behind BlueBlocks—a biodesign studio revolutionizing systems into regenerative practices. With a background in industrial design, Marjanne's expertise spans international brands and design education. BlueBlocks now pioneers sustainable materials like SeaWood, 100% natural boards from seaweed and plant waste, transforming interior design possibilities.
Pekka Pakkanen is a Helsinki-based architect, with a strong focus on sustainability. His office Planetary Architecture is working on projects and tools for high quality architecture within our planetary boundaries. He is also the category winner for the Xprize-challenge : “Feeding the next billion” -category winner and has won a whooping 13 first prizes in invited architectural competitions.
Spain, 13 Sept. at 5-7 pm, Myllytie 5, 00140 Helsinki
The Residence of the Embassy of Spain in Helsinki is one of the emblematic works of the famous architect Aarne Ervi, designer of other buildings in Helsinki and in other Finnish cities. The building, which bears the name “Villa Himberg”, is considered one of the most representative buildings of Finnish architecture from the 1950s, with large glass surfaces. It was built in 1954 on behalf of a distinguished Finnish businessman, Arvo Himberg. The Spanish architect Ángel Fernández Alba completed the building complex with the contiguous construction of the current Chancellery of the Spanish Embassy.
Isabel Inés Casasnovas is a distinguished strategic designer in Spain with 25+ years of experience in designing digital products, leading teams, and creating user experiences for prominent companies. She received the Jury Award at Spain's National Design and Innovation Awards in 2020 for pioneering new design disciplines and fostering community. As Captain of Mothership (La Nave Nodriza), she explores human-centered design in Madrid and globally. She's also part of llios, a collective shaping innovative organizational models and projects to humanize modernity. With a commitment to a better world, Isabel envisions design as a force for positive change.
Joining Casasnovas, Designer Tero Kuitunen draws inspiration from the intersection of design and art, fearless combination of elements, and different perspectives. He seeks to move and touch people through his creative use of materials and colors in projects. Through his creations, Tero aims to discover something that moves and touches people.
Latvia, 14 Sept. at 1-3 pm, Armfeltintie 10, 00150 Helsinki
Arthur Frenckell, Editor and Publisher of the Swedish-language daily newspaper Hufvudstadsbladet designed the original site of the Embassy of Latvia in Finland in the 1930s on Armfeltintie 10. It is still popularly known as Villa Frenckell and the Palace of Eira. The Republic of Latvia bougth the building in the 1930s but lost it when the Soviet occupied Latvia during the Second World War. After the re-establishment of independence of Latvia, official relations between Latvia and Finland were re-established on 29 August 1991. Four years later the building was officially handed back to Latvia to serve once again as the Embassy of the Republic of Latvia.
Edgars Racins ventured to Finland in 2004 to pursue architecture, immersing himself in the language and industry. Guided by the corridors of esteemed firms like PES Arkkitehdit and JKMM, Edgars's expertise flourished, becoming as solid as concrete foundations. Even as a student, his talent shone with a remarkable 3rd place in a major architectural competition, igniting a series of subsequent victories. Fueled by an unwavering passion, Edgars co-founded TIENO Arkkitehdit alongside Janne Leino, a blueprint for innovation and collaboration.
Päivi Raivio is a Helsinki-based urban designer who has dedicated her career to creating better public spaces through urban interventions, placemaking and public art. Päivi Raivio works with Daniel Bumann in the multidisciplinary urban design, placemaking and public art agency RaivioBumann. The duo has also founded modular urban furniture company Parkly, for making places. Päivi won theHelsinki Design Award in 2022 for her extensive work in community-driven and place-led urban design. Päivi is also a Leader-member of the Placemaking Europe network and an active writer.
Estonia, 14 Sept. at 5-7 pm, Itäinen Puistotie 10, 00140 Helsinki
The Embassy of Estonia is located in the Kaivopuisto Park in Helsinki at the junction of Itäinen Puistotie and Kalliolinnantie. The embassy building was built by the Estonian state on a lot bought by Oskar Kallas in 1919. Before the current building, the lot housed a villa built by registrar P. W. A. Behsen in the 1870s. The Estonian delegation operated in one apartment of the wooden house until at the initiative of Hans Rebane in 1931 there was a decision to build a new embassy on the same site. The design contest was won by Estonian architect Konstantin Bölau, and the building was completed in 1933. The two-storey house represents the functionalist style. It was the first embassy building built by the Estonian state.
Anneli Tammik lives and works as a freelance artist in Tallinn, Estonia. Anneli likes to experiment with new technologies and tries limits of the materials and techniques. She wants to find something new in every collection. In her work Anneli has focused on small editions and modern 3D capabilities. She likes to use silver together with other materials. Anneli has special interest to grow from planar ornament into three -dimensional sculptural jewelry.
Elina Siira on yhteiskunnallinen yrittäjä ja AIDA Impact -yrityksen perustaja, joka toimii Helsingissä ja jonka missio on tarjota maahanmuuttajille ja pakolaisille heidän ensimmäinen työpaikkansa uudessa kotimaassaan. Yhdistäen suunnittelua ja empatiaa Elina on voimaannuttanut 30 naista viiden vuoden aikana, yhdistäen liiketoimintaosaamisen, jonka hän on hankkinut liikkeenjohdon konsultoinnista ja B2B-myynnistä, sekä maisterin tutkintonsa taloustieteestä ja liiketaloudesta.
Uruguay, 15 Sept. at 1-3 pm, Pohjoisranta 12, 00170 Helsinki
After being appointed as professor, Otto Donner decided to build a seascape house for his family in Kruununhaka, Helsinki. The magnificent Neo-Renaissance four-storey stone house was completed at Pohjoisranta 12 in 1899. In the late 19th century, the style of Schjerfbeck’s plans was neo-Renaissance. Later he was influenced by Art Nouveau, and in the final part of his life, he started to join Classicism. The house became the home of the Donner family and the meeting place of Helsinki's influential districts. Pohjoisranta 12 has largely been preserved in its original form and is considered one of the most significant residential buildings on Pohjoisranta.
Hailing from Montevideo, Uruguay, Carlos's artistic journey has transcended borders, reshaping the world of glass design. Despite challenges, he honed his craft at renowned institutions and pioneered the innovative "Cara" technique, fusing glass and paint. His exhibitions span the globe, from Australia to the USA, leaving audiences captivated. Carlos brings a unique perspective on design diplomacy, bridging cultures through his creations.
Introducing ​​Finnish artist Santtu Mustonen. Mustonen focuses on visualizing emotions of excitement, distortion, movement, and the surreal through sculptures, installations, animation and new technologies. Currently, he is exploring new methods and transforming his digital artworks into tangible sculptural forms using materials like glass.