Open Calls

Design Residency 2018

Arranging Practice: Proximity, Distance, Instance

The Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP), in partnership with the British Council, Helsinki Design Week and Aalto University is seeking research proposals for participation in the 2018 design residency programme in Helsinki. The programme is open for practitioners and researchers at the intersections of design, architecture and art who have interest in critically investigating design practice and innovation.

In 2018, the design residency programme will offer one (1) UK-based practitioner and two (2) local practitioners a possibility to take part in the thematically framed research/work process.

The programme comprises two working periods in Helsinki: a two-week research phase in May 2018, and a production and presentation phase of one month in the fall, that will overlap with the Helsinki Design Week (6 – 16 September 2018).

The design residency was first established in 2012 as part of the World Design Capital programme in Helsinki and is produced in partnership with the British Council, Helsinki Design Week and Aalto University. The theme and structure of the programme is curated by HIAP associate curators Martin Born and Rosa Tolnov Clausen.


In recent years, designers, architects and artists have been researching organisational models that question design practice by rearranging its parameters of proximity and distance, both conceptually and practically. Interest in the immediate contact with material, and emphasis on exchanges within limited (social, territorial) radii have brought about attentiveness to co-creative processes in design, architecture and urbanism, as well as a resurging interest in the purpose and place of craft. Simultaneously, endeavours in the digital space have spurred a diversity of crowd, peer-to-peer, sharing and other cooperative models that propose different, spatially distributed, forms of cooperation.

At once triggered and challenged by factors such as legislation, geo-economics and environmental issues, these new practices seek ways of being responsible actors in society and with material. However, as with everything new, fresh complexities emerge. The 2018 Helsinki design residency programme invites practitioners to explore those complexities along questions that may include, without being limited to:

  • The concept, place and re-evaluation of “critical distance” in cooperative settings (e.g. the tension between exclusion/seclusion and inclusion/mediation/compromise in the creative process);
  • The influence of tools and materials on creative/critical perspectives, and vice versa (e.g. the difference of outlook between craft and design);
  • The extents and the limitations of perception and action in cooperative practice;
  • The position of the contemporary object in relation to its historical states of proximity (e.g. the locally made unique), distance (e.g. the industrially produced serial) and instance (e.g. the digitally materialised).

As a stage for dense interaction and individual alienation, the city offers a historically singular context for studying the overlapping influences of proximity and distance in contemporary creative practice and on society at large. Therefore, environments that embody these influences differently (e.g. historically, geographically) may also provide research possibilities (e.g. city vs. village, centre vs. periphery, digital vs. physical).

The Programme

The selected UK-based resident and local practitioners will have the opportunity to expand their network of contacts in Finland, exchange on their work among the group of residents and with artists-in-residence at HIAP, receive field advice and curatorial mentoring, and present their work-in-progress and research outcomes to the professional and public audiences in Helsinki by way of the following formats:

  • HIAP Open Studios;
  • HDW PechaKucha Night;
  • Public presentation during the research phase in May;
  • Public presentation at HDW, to be developed in form and extent in May so as to align with the research/topic proposed by the practitioners and their chosen form of production.

These will be opportunities for the practitioners to communicate their work and create connections with local designers, curators, researchers and other design experts. The programme will provide opportunity for interaction, networking and sharing experiences and ideas with other designers and practitioners in the arts. Practitioners will be expected to work independently and, on their own initiative, make local connections themselves, and contribute content in the form of blogs, video diaries and presentations for HIAP’s online platform

Programme structure:

1. Research phase, 14 – 27 May 2018

The first work phase will give the selected practitioners the opportunity to engage with the resident group, find cooperation partners and establish contacts with local creative practices, institutions and organisations.

2. Production and presentation phase, 13 August – 18 September 2018

The second work phase will provide the opportunity to consolidate the body of research initiated in the May period into a production body and disseminate the findings in Helsinki through public events. The phase will coincide with the Helsinki Design Week (6 – 16 September 2018).

Open call for UK-based practitioners

The open call for UK-based practitioners is organized by the British Council. Further details on the residency and how to apply can be found here.

Open call for local practitioners

The open call for local practitioners is organized by HIAP. Please read further for more information.


  • Applicants must be practitioners or researchers in the fields of design, architecture, fashion, design writing, curatorial or cross-disciplinary work and must be based in Finland;
  • Applicants should have a minimum of 2 years’/maximum of 10 years’ experience;
  • Applicants should demonstrate experience of creative practice through design excellence and critical thinking;
  • Applicants should demonstrate experience in collaborative work;
  • Applicants must be able to participate in both work phases (14 – 27 May, and 13 August – 18 September 2018).

How to apply

If you would like to apply as a local practitioner, please submit a proposal comprising:

  • Up to five examples of key projects (realised or speculative) that you feel represent your approach;
  • A short statement outlining why you are applying for the local practitioner programme and what you hope to gain from the experience (max 300 words);
  • An activity plan identifying the main stages of your activity from the start of the programme onwards;
  • CV.

Applications should be submitted by 23:59 (GMT) on Sunday, 8 April 2018 using the online application form (n.b. the application period has been extended). Applications sent by other means will not be taken into consideration.

The programme award for each local practitioner will consist of

  • Advice and contacts in London and Helsinki via HIAP, the British Council Architecture Design Fashion department, the Helsinki Design Week;
  • Curatorial mentoring and a structured exchange agenda with the resident group;
  • A production budget of 300€ for material or transportation costs (e.g. printing, model-making, prototyping, research visits);
  • Public presentation of the residents’ work during the research phase in May and as part of the Helsinki Design Week in September;
  • Publication of the residents’ work in design media such as Helsinki Design Weekly.

PLEASE NOTE: In this year’s local practitioners programme, accommodation/studio space is not provided and to be organized by the practitioners.

The selected local residents will be expected to

  • Commit time before the research phase in May for preparation and research, including a briefing session in advance (either in person or via video conference);
  • Provide a research/production plan before the research phase;
  • Participate in workshops, talks or lectures organised in Helsinki where research findings can be presented;
  • Document observations to be published periodically via the HIAP, HDW and Architecture Design Fashion websites;
  • Provide a final residency report outlining their main research findings.

Press and publicity

The selected residents are expected to agree to any reasonable requests for press or media, and to discuss media coverage with HIAP and the British Council. Press information will be agreed upon and released by HIAP and the British Council.


The selection panel will include representatives from HIAP, the British Council, Helsinki Design Week, Aalto University and specialists in the realm of different forms of design practice.

Juha Huuskonen – Director – HIAP
Gian Luca Amadei – Programme Manager Design – British Council
Martin Born – Designer, curator
Rosa Tolnov Clausen – Textile designer
Helena Fernström – Producer – Helsinki Design Week
Juuso Tervo – Researcher – Aalto University
Leena Svinhufvud – Educational Curator – Design Museum

Successful applicants will be notified by Friday 13 April 2018. (Please note that we are unable to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications.)