Weeknotes Week 041

I should be sleeping, as I'm on the plane flying to the California for the holidays, but instead I'm writing this weeknote because I'm that dedicated nerdy.

Somehow it seems appropriate that this, our last full week before the holiday, is also the first full week of snow in Helsinki. Goodbye, Winter gloom. The snow really does make daily life more bright and the quality of the light is something special.

We started out with a visit to the comfy office of Demos Helsinki in the city's Viiskulma ("five corners") neighborhood. Having checked out their Peleton project a bit it was nice to hear more of the backstory (English summary here). They started out by looking at all of the decisions that one makes in their lifetime and the potential impact those choices have on your individual carbon footprint. From there, they selected the decisions that have a high footprint potential and asked "who is the gatekeeper for this decision?" The list is counterintuitive and suggests that the people at point-of-purchase have a very important role to play in behavior change. If your builder suggests that you use a certain insulation, for instance, you generally follow their advice. Peleton is about working with these gatekeepers to help them understand the importance of their role.

Demos was a no brainer when I had a call from SIX in London later in the week to talk about social innovation in Finland. They've been commissioned to write up an exciting report on the topic and we were happy to share with them some of the things going on here. We'll post a link when the report is published.

Actually, lots of phone calls and emails this week – mostly Marco's – to catch up with old contacts and start sharing with them the plans for 2010. It's a bit odd to be announcing that here since we haven't really had a chance to give a suitable public overview of where Helsinki Design Lab is headed, but that's only because it has been so fluid. In construction the term "fast track" means that the process of designing and building a building are conducted in parallel, with the early site work and foundations going in before the full set of plans are drawn. This is very much the approach we've had to HDL. With the foundations just about in we're also nearing completion on the design, so to speak, and I'm making it my goal to update this site in the first week of January with a clearer plan for 2010. Bear with us.

Some logistical things: we packed up the office so we can move to a new floor in the new year; Marco visited TAIK to talk about having some of their students work with us in the Spring; Martin and I made a final decision on the paper stock for our stationery (Munken Lynx, if you're curious) and finalized the design; and I had a late night check-in call with XOXCO. Those time zones are killer.

Thursday we met with Pekka T. to talk about possible venues and agreed to go with him on a visit to City Hall in early January. This is an important one for us: we definitely do not want to host HDL in a typical congress hall or something overly formal like Finlandia, beautiful though it may be. HDL 1968 was held on the grassy fields and in the crenelated environs of Suomenlinna. In 2008 we temporarily converted a warehouse space in Katajannokka into an amenable environ for conversation. This year, as we begin to hone the focus of HDL as an environment for enhancing design as a strategic asset for government we hope to host the event literally within the halls of government – to embed design there, if even temporarily for now. We're also trying to avoid the all-in-one sort of venue that traps participants in a single place, regardless of how comfortable it may be. If things work out, we'll be hosting HDL across a couple different locations around Senaatintori. This is a big if, but an exciting one.

And I've saved the best item for last: we asked Adriel and Ezra to have 80% drafts of their respective challenge briefs done for us this week and they took that quite literally, sending the files at the end of the day Friday! I'll be pouring over the briefs during the flight, but first I think I'll sign off and enjoy this sunrise over the Baltic.