WDC Helsinki 2012 is visible on Helsinki’s café scene: case café Kauko
Elisabeth Heinrichs March 13, 2012

World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 appears in many ways in Helsinki’s street view. Some examples are the interesting and new cafés that enrich the city.

Hufvudstadsbladet’s media café in remote controlled café Kauko

Hufvudstadsbladet, the highest-circulation Swedish-language newspaper in Finland, organized during a one-week-period, 27th of February – 2nd of March, a media café event in café Kauko which is a part of the world design program. Café Kauko, that offers free coffee and cookies, is controlled through the Internet. 

The so called media café event was organized now for the first time, but Hufvudstadsbladet promises that similar events will be organized later this spring in a different location. The idea is to encourage people and engage readers, bypassers and visitors to take part in design discussions about Helsinki. The publisher house is also arranging Swedish literature walks in spring 2012. Hufvudstadsbladet has furthermore emphasized and expanded its design news coverage for this year. The project goes by the name Designstan and reports all design related news in the city.

Source: Hufvudstadsbladet

During the last day of the media café the discussion topic was food as a part of design. The design debate assembled three food actors: The Helsinki city’s food culture strategist Ville Relander, the first food culture professor of her kind Johanna Mäkelä and grocery food delivery service Keittiökaveri’s Markus Haakana.

Helsinkian food trends

According to the food experts it’s important that the city supports food novelties, e.g. the Restaurant Day and emerging street food trend, because only in this way food becomes a topic food discussion on all society levels. Talking about food on the other hand adds pressure on city decision-makers.

Relander thinks that today especially school meals are seen as representatives of Finland’s wellbeing. The Finnish school system, which has a good international reputation, depends on good school food. According to Mäkelä the choices of the public sector have a leading role since they affect the whole grocery food chain.

The Finnish food culture needed a challenge and springboard from abroad

Mäkelä claims that the Finnish food culture needed questioning comments concerning the Finnish cuisine, from e.g. Italian prime minister Berlusconi, to get it off the ground and gather momentum.
Even though Finns eat much alone, Relander sees this changing. He emphasizes that eating nowadays is considered a social phenomenon and people are saying that food tastes better in company. “Food is more than what you see on the plate”, he finishes.

Grocery bag delivery services are big among families

Markus Haakana working at Keittiökaverit, a grocery bag delivery service, knows to tell that especially families with children have responded and started to use his services. The company hands out cooking recipes and delivers ingredients according to the recipes directly to one’s front door. He is just sorry about the fact that using this kind of concept the company makes decisions, about what to eat, for the customer. On the other hand though, it’s still the customer who is preparing the meal. He would like to see more interaction between youngsters and grandparents so that the Finnish traditional cooking skills wouldn’t die out.

Source: World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 - Valtteri Hirvonen / Lauri Eriksson Company

Café Kauko was open for two months and had several thousands of visitors. The café’s website gathered a stunning 155 000 visits during two months. Kauko’s presentation videos on Vimeo were watched over 207 000 times. 

The café received also a lot of international attention: BBC’s video telling about the café became the broadcaster’s most watched video clip in the beginning of February. Just to mention a few Time Magazine and China Network Television have also reported about the café.

Kauko will be opened again later this year. The next location and opening hours will be revealed later this spring.