Weeknotes Week 030

This week was a swirl of names: meeting new faces, lots of meetings all over Helsinki (and Lahti!), and the banal-but-critical task of naming a new project.

To start with the new additions to the team, I'd like to welcome Adriel, Ezra, and Justin to the project. Justin is a Sitra colleague who will now be devoting part of his time to HDL, and Adriel and Ezra are working with us as consultants. It has taken us a while to tweak the machinery here to be able to fold in new talent on a just-in-time basis, but now that infrastructure is set up and it's a huge help.

Adriel, Ezra, and Justin will take the lead on developing studio briefs for three studios that we are organizing for next summer in the lead-up to the main HDL event. The studios will each tackle a specific challenge here in Finland, but the problems are large issues relevant to many places. In other words, they're juicy problems. On the meta level we're looking at public service delivery, education, and a national approach to sustainability. Clearly these are vast topics, so within each one there will be a much more focused question or entry point, but we're still working to identify those. I'll leave it at that and let Adriel, Ezra, and Justin share more about their work once we collectively dig into the content a bit more.

It's an exciting moment because we're finally beginning to lock in dates, focus conversations on specific content, and clearly outline the challenges ahead of us (at least as best as we can see them). More later on these studios and their role as part of HDL, but for now it's enough to say that things are getting busy around here!

Internally we've been laboring to find the right name for a new part of HDL. This summer it became clear that a conference is probably not a strong enough vehicle to achieve our ambitions. Helsinki Design Lab needs to be an engine for fostering strategic design knowledge and capability. There are groups here and there devoting their thinking to strategic design and there are ongoing projects in various parts of the world demonstrating the value of having designers involved in sorting out systemic problems. In short, there's a good bit of chatter, but we want to see more. A conference that happens every two years is a good start but what else can we do?

We have lots of ideas... but I'll leave it at that for now and invite any suggestions you may have.