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Virtual art intervention highlights Helsinki Design Week

Helsinki’s Aleksanterinkatu has gotten a digital makeover as part of Helsinki Design Week, organised between 3 and 13 September.Anni Korkman / Luovi

Aleksanterinkatu, one of the busiest shopping streets in the Finnish capital, will serve as a backdrop for a colourful and immersive virtual design experience co-created by Virtual Helsinki and Helsinki Design Week, the largest design festival in the Nordics.

The street-long virtual exhibition is made up of installations from three emerging designers: Hanna Anonen, Matts Bjolin and Fanni Lyytikäinen.

It provides local and international visitors to the virtual city an opportunity to experience a re-imagined urban realm and find themselves in a current of water, on a bed of grass, surrounded by buildings decorated with colourful flowers and abstractions, or under bridges inspired by M.C. Escher.

“Helsinki wants to be the city that pioneers digital innovation to create engaging solutions for the future of our cities,” said Hanna Harris, the chief design officer at the City of Helsinki.

Virtual Helsinki and Helsinki Design Week, she viewed, have created an exhibition that demonstrates not only the potential of technology to offer a playful, alternative and sustainable way to experience cities, but also the impact it could have on how spaces are envisioned, designed and managed in future.

The main festival programme, which consists of installations on design, architecture and fashion, will be hosted from the newly renovated Helsinki Olympic Stadium between 3 and 13 September.

The main theme of the 11-day hybrid festival is “commitment matters”.

“Design is and should be present in everything we do,” proclaimed Mayor Jan Vapaavuori. “Now more than ever we must ask ourselves how design can improve lives, create commitment to modern democratic values, promote sustainability and innovation in urbanisation, and provide us the tools needed for championing in the post-COVID world.”

By: Aleksi Teivainen