HEL/LO and We Talked

  • The HEL/LO – Let's Talk series concluded with a provocative take on tomorrow's design and architecture – and showed a need for future collaboration between Helsinki and London.

    Conceived with leading British architecture and design magazine Blueprint and organised as a satellite event to the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 programme, the HEL/LO – Let's Talk series created a space for design and architecture professionals from Helsinki and London to meet and exchange ideas.

    The series consisted of three events in London and one in Helsinki. Launched in May 2012 in the steaming hot basement of the Gopher Hole in Shoreditch, HEL/LO then travelled to the acclaimed new arts venue White Building in Hackney Wick, visited a beautiful outdoor pavilion in Helsinki, and ended with a jam-packed fourth talk at designjunction, the new landmark venue of the London Design Festival.

    All 19 speakers were asked to compare design cultures and their experiences in Helsinki and London. The first HEL/LO event focused on the designers' and architects' dreams and the second celebrated the Olympics by looking at games and the playful nature of the designers' work. For the third talk, the Londoners travelled to Helsinki Design Week to discuss alternative methods in architecture, design and art, with the fourth talk having its sights firmly set on the future and what it might hold.

    For Johnny Tucker, editor of Blueprint magazine, the series highlighted fascinating aspects of the two design cultures.

    "Although we are obviously facing very similar issues as far as cities, design and architecture goes in Europe, we have markedly different approaches to how we deal with them, a lot of which is rooted in our national cultural values. To be able to share those visions and ultimately broaden experience and allow ourselves to break through some of the boundaries we are often not aware we have, is so valuable," he says.

    Tucker is convinced the exchange between the two cities will continue beyond HEL/LO.

    "The conversations continued long after the seminars and got even livelier! Relationships were formed and who knows what will follow. That is the whole point and the beauty of this."

    The end of HEL/LO - Let's Talk also marks the finale of the Finnish Institute's three-year design programme leading up Helsinki having celebrated design throughout 2012 as World Design Capital.

    "We've had an incredible time bringing together an inspiring group of people and ideas. Both cities have so much to give each other in terms of where and how the most cutting-edge stuff of contemporary design and architecture is happening and why it matters. This is the beginning of a long and fruitful conversation," says programme director Hanna Harris from the Finnish Institute.

    HEL/LO - Let's Talk is co-curated by Owen Pritchard and Hanna Harris.

    HEL/LO speakers were Alex Warnock-Smith, Andreas Lang, Annamari Vänskä, Asif Khan, Chee-Kit Lai, Dick Powell, Hella Hernberg, Je Ahn, Krista Kosonen, Maria Smith, Martti Kalliala, Max Dewdney, Olli Sirén, Rachel Armstrong, Sean Griffiths, Timo Salli, Tomas Träskman, Torange Khonsari and Tuomas Toivonen.

    All talks are available in their entirety on www.helloletstalk.fi where you will also find behind the scenes videos and speaker interviews.