Address by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the opening of the World Design Capital Pavilion, Helsinki 10 May 2012

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We are about to open the Pavilion, which will become the busy focus for the World Design Capital city for the summer. The Pavilion is an urban space and a meeting place that is easy for visitors to enter. It will have a varied programme, and everyone will be able to find a suitable moment to visit. As we see, the Pavilion embodies the spirit of the World Design Capital Year and inspires us to consider the role of design in our everyday lives.

The Pavilion is based on a design by architecture student Pyry-Pekka Kantonen and was built by the Wood Studio at Aalto University. We can already say that the Pavilion is at the cutting edge of Finnish sustainable construction in wood. It is a milestone in the new introduction of wood to construction in urban areas. Its structure makes innovative use of Finnish wood, pine and spruce.

Helsinki has every reason to be proud in presenting the Pavilion as a novel feature in its cityscape, both to local residents and to summer guests. Cities need bold initiatives and far-reaching visions that help create a variety of spaces for residents and potential for themselves to participate in the design of their home city. Placing the Pavilion between the Museum of Design and the Museum of Architecture creates a triptych that will be of interest to everyone interested in design and architecture.

Finland has enjoyed plenty of international success in the area of design. Indeed, a strong tradition of design is a significant part of our national identity. Finnish design is an excellent combination of Finnish work and expertise. Our importance in the world of design is far greater than our size would indicate.

Being designated World Design Capital is an honour for the city of Helsinki. This is also a project of national significance. Design has become hugely more important over the past decades, both here and in the world at large. Design has boldly spread into areas where it was not previously seen. People have realised that design is part of everyone’s everyday environment and their quality of life. The design is what creates a living environment that is functional and comfortable for everyone.

Design is a crucial part of Finnish innovation, boosting both our competitiveness and our wellbeing. Increasingly, design is becoming linked with social development. In Finland, design plays a key role in many sectors and sometimes quite surprising contexts. However, there is still room for expanding the scope of design in business and in public services. The drafting of a national design programme, headed by the Ministry of Employment and the Economy, is currently in progress.

International studies show that the success of a business correlates with its design expertise. Successful international companies invest heavily in design. Design will continue to provide Finland and Finnish businesses with further development opportunities. I would like to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises in particular to explore new ideas through design and to grasp opportunities boldly.

Active citizens are of crucial importance in developing better cities and in promoting sustainable development. I hope that the Pavilion will be found and visited by everyone with an interest in design or architecture, or simply in a vibrant urban culture. Over the summer, everyone will have a chance to contribute to the development of Helsinki at the Pavilion and to make our capital city an even better place.

I hereby declare the World Design Capital Pavilion open.