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    This ideology is about combining trade, aid and design.

    "I hope that through Design Helps discussions there will be more options for developing work, aid and designers to pursue a dialogue. We also wish to bring together professionals in different fields to create new innovative solutions".




    The first Design Helps exhibition was launched as a part of the official program of Helsinki Design Capital 2012. The aim of Design Helps exhibitions is to showcase solutions of how design can improve global well being under the theme of "Design for Development". 

    Second Design Helps exhibition was hold in Habitat Center, New Delhi in 2013. Design Helps themes are also presented yearly in Finland at Habitare design fair/Ethical area curated by Tikau.

    During the past years Tikau has also arranged several Design Helps fund raising events, such as Design Helps auctions. 

    The context of the Design Helps Living Room Exhibition is not to be a design exhibition as it is usually understood. Its goal is to inspire discussions and serve as a platform for this dialogue. We have chosen examples of design and architecture focusing on sustainable employment.

    One important goal is that the Design Helps Living Room concept can lead us to deeper discussions about sustainable design for the creation of global wellbeing. So far we have held two exhibitions – one in Helsinki in 2012 as part of the Helsinki World Design Capital programme The Design Helps concept is Tikaus call to anyone rethinking the direction of design!

    Thoughts behind Tikau and Design Helps thinking.

    By Taina Snellman-Langenskiöld, founder of Tikau & NGO Tikau Share


    My journey towards Design Helps thinking started when I was living in India for the first time about 15 years ago. To start with I was doing research in textile factories in India. I noticed two main dominating factors:

    1. Employment. People need employment and livelihoods.
    2. Locality. People want to stay in their home villages, close to their families.

    I wanted to help. If I had been a doctor I would have done something else perhaps, but my background was in design and clothing. I realized that maybe design could provide a way for me to help. The natural connection between design and employment was to combine design with handicrafts.

    Handicrafts are a wonderful form of employment for the rural sector. You don’t need electricity, you can be mobile and – especially for women – it is important to be able to work at home. So that was priority number one taken care of, as well as locality: I was able to take the employment to the people, not the other way round.

    But I realized that handicraft ability was not enough. To introduce sustainability, we needed design too. "Design for employment" is a great way to create extra value for the products, which also makes it possible to earn a fair income. Secondly, it brings creative thinking in to the picture , which covers the whole chain: Development, capacity building, quality, aesthetics, working methods, and so on. Design inputs are needed at all these levels.


    The important approach to this is the idea that you design with, not for. This means that to help someone somewhere, the target of design is either to help everyday life or to provide employment. One of the main things to understand is that design work should be done with the people. To create a design solution you need to understand the needs and challenges of everyday life in those countries.

    With and through the work of Tikau, based on our accumulating experience, we have also understood that design for employment is not the only needed area of design. We need design solutions to help everyday life and living through sustainable and creative design solutions and architecture.