In Studio with Helsinki Design Lab

Posted by Erin Routson

Helsinki Design Lab — an initiative of the Finnish government’s innovation fund, Sitra — has released a book documenting their strategic-design process. HDL’s Bryan Boyer visited PPL recently and was kind enough to share  a hard copy, and it is a beaut, both in form and content.

In Studio: Recipes for Systemic Change, written by Boyer, Justin Cook, and Marco Steinberg, is a narrative of HDL’s process for addressing systemic challenges facing government, a how-to guide to set up your own studio using their model, and a repository of in-depth case studies from Sitra’s work in Finland.

While In Studio provides three detailed case studies that involve issues of sustainability, aging, and education — with detailed project briefs to boot — some of its more functional information is just as helpful. The book is a terrific handbook for setting up and scheduling a studio, breaking down not just when and how projects should progress, but covering the physical needs of the studio space and personnel, too.

The book is designed so that readers can take several paths through its content. As the authors acknowledge, many of us have “less time for reading than we would like,” so options for understanding what strategic design is, getting a quick overview of the books’ contents, or getting an idea of what the studio looks like are all mapped out for the reader.

Lessons readers can take from In Studio can certainly be applied by public-sector service challenges, but should also inspire strategic designers of all stripes. If you can’t locate a hard copy, not to worry: HDL has made the full book available as a PDF for download.