By Fran Weaver, May 2012
In 2012, Helsinki hosts the Ice Hockey World Championship while also celebrating all year long as World Design Capital. Teamwork between the two camps ensures that the hockey tournament displays flair off the ice as well as in the rink.
Helsinki is cohosting two consecutive ice hockey world championships together with Stockholm, in May 2012 and May 2013. In 2012, half of the opening-round matches, both semi-finals, and the final will all be held in the Finnish capital, also the 2012 World Design Capital.
“When we met the Finnish organisers of the ice hockey championship at Helsinki City’s events collaboration group, we realised we had to make this coincidence really mean something,” says Pekka Timonen, executive director of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012.
From a list of design specialists provided by the design capital team, the tournament organisers chose Helsinki-based design agency Mozo to create a uniquely professional design look and feel for the whole event, including visuals based on the theme “northern stars.” Radiant stars in the event’s main blue, white and yellow colour scheme have been appearing all around Helsinki.
“We’re especially brightening up the backyard of the Hartwall Arena venue, creating a huge Hockey Garden open to non-ticket-holders, with lots of attractions from face-painting to a fan megastore – and a 1,400-seater Hockey Hall of Fame Restaurant with music, a big screen, and exhibits borrowed from the Finnish Ice Hockey Museum,” says Mika Sulin, general secretary of the championship’s Finnish organising committee.
“The players will also feel this strong identity, with stars in their countries’ colours visible everywhere from airport welcome desks and team buses to locker rooms and even hotel keys,” says Sulin.
Players from the 16 participating countries also hope to get their hands on the striking gold, silver and bronze medals specially created for the tournament by the Finnish designer Tapio Kettunen. The medals have an unusual 3-D look, featuring a puck stretching a goal net.
Close connections with Finnish design are also evident in the shape of the tournament’s familiar-looking mascot Hockey Bird, created in collaboration with Rovio, the makers of the world-conquering Angry Birds mobile games.
“We really wanted to give the whole event a fresh dynamic,” explains Sulin. “Finns have always been good at organising big events in practical terms, but perhaps neglecting packaging and image aspects. Our goal is to make these games fan-friendly in every way.”
One legacy of the unique collaboration between the design capital and ice hockey championship teams will be a brand book produced to share experiences and best practices from the event among Finnish event organisers.
Pekka Timonen feels that the connections between design and sport have previously been neglected. “Design plays a vital role in sport, not least in terms of the equipment and its safety, usability and aesthetics,” he says. “People tend to associate design with objects like Alvar Aalto’s iconic vase, but the high visibility of this sport-design collaboration is a good way to show that design really is everywhere around us in the modern world.”
Timonen and Sulin both hope that their collaboration will get sports fans interested in design, as well as giving designers access to a mass market in the shape of hordes of hockey fans.
Biggest and best-designed World Championship ever
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