Helsinki Design Lab ten years later
by Bryan Boyer
She Ji: The Journal of Design, Economics, and Innovation, Volume 6, Issue 3
Autumn 2020, 22 pages
[open access]


Four principals. Five years. Two books, five pamphlets, and a series of posters. A website of 130,000 words. A handful of online videos. More than one hundred lectures on five continents. Eight public-facing projects. A dozen studio workshops. Three conferences. Like anything else that has come and gone, Helsinki Design Lab is nothing more than the marks it left on the world. As an initiative of the Finnish Innovation Fund, also known as Sitra, Helsinki Design Lab (HDL) was one of the first design teams in the world located within national government, and the first to focus exclusively on strategic design. On the occasion of this 10th anniversary of sorts, this essay is a reflection on the “bets” made by the lab, why, and how those bets have fared a decade on.