Case Study Submission Guidelines

Helsinki Design Lab supports all beneficial applications of design, but our specific interest is focused very tightly on strategic design. This means we have to make choices about what to include and what to exclude from our case study library. There are many exciting examples of design's value in this world, but not all of them are strategic as we define it. 

"A decision cannot be fairly characterized as 'strategic' unless it is a conscious choice between two legitimate and rational alternatives. It must be borne of deliberation and not happenstance, inattention or neglect."

-US Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens

Given that many of the HDL team have backgrounds in traditional design fields, such as architecture and product design, we share a deep appreciation for design as a central part of cultural production. There are many organizations the world over that dedicate immense amounts of time and energy to promoting the design business sector. In general, Helsinki Design Lab does not focus on projects that concentrate on branding, experience, and other aspects of positioning as endgames.

There are also a growing number of groups who focus on humanitarian design, often in response to devastating crisis situations. In recent years, socially-minded designers have developed a strong conversation around the notion of design-for-good: Architecture For Humanity,Public Architecture, and the Designers Accord, just to name a few. Work that tackles problems in under-served or excluded communities is absolutely necessary and a welcome change to the priorities of the design community.

Helsinki Design Lab is careful to distinguish between projects that are unique because they offer traditional design services to underserved clients and those that are unique because they use design to tackle broader systemic challenges in a holistic way.

Great designers work on important problems all the time, but that does not necessarily mean they are operating strategically.  Likewise, not all strategic uses of design are humanitarian in nature. Strategic design is a delicate balance between many competing factors and our hope is that as the conversation around the HDL Case Studies evolves we will be able to advance the discussion about what it means to deliver strategic improvement.

Know of a great case study that should be part of the HDL library? Please let us know!