Design

Estonian design is a rapidly evolving creative field that involves product design, service design, graphic design as well as fashion design, although design is increasingly considered a tool or process to solve problems in a human centred and creative way.

As of 2014, design is under the administration of the Ministry of Culture. Earlier, design belonged to the area of government of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Design policy was part of Estonian business policies for 2007-2013. In 2012-2013 a national action plan for the area of design was implemented. This constituted the first phase of a national support policy that aimed at developing design use. The objectives of the action plan were to increase the use of design among businesses and to foster the development of design as an important sector of the creative industries. At the lead and in cooperation of various ministries and organisations, activities were carried out to increase design awareness, knowledge and skills, the development of design bureaus and increasing their export was supported, and design education quality was promoted.
 
In 2016-2018 the Ministry of Culture participated in creating a vision document for the field. The process was lead by the development centre and strategic partner Estonian Design Centre.


The Ministry of Culture carries out "Design Ladder" studies exploring design implementation among enterprises in the private sector, as well as among the state enterprises and foundations in the public domain. These surveys provide a viable overview of current situation and opportunities for progression.

The Ministry of Culture cooperates with the Ministry of Social Affairs and other institutions and organisations to advance the inclusiveness of the living environment regarding the aspects of accessibility for all.
 

Design Night

Design Night is a design festival held each autumn in Tallinn with the aim of interpreting different aspects of design and pushing the borders of the discipline. The festival consists of seminars, workshops, exhibitions, competitions, and performances. See the Design Night webpage for more information.
 

Design prizes

One of the events at the Design Night is the Estonian design awards ceremony. The purpose of design awards is to recognise, praise and promote good design work, which offers aesthetic enjoyment as well as solutions on how to improve our living environment in a nature-friendly and sustainable way.
 

In addition, within the competition for the Entrepreneurship Award, every other year Enterprise Estonia hands out the title of the Design Implementer of the Year, with the objective of drawing more attention to those businesses whose success has significantly increased as a result of the strategic implementation of design in the development of their goods or services or in the management of their business. The Entrepreneurship Award competition is the highest recognition in the country for outstanding and progressively minded businesses. Read more about it on the EAS website.

Annkris-Glas, Eesti disaininäitusel Brüsselis 2014

Education

Design education can be obtained at the Estonian Academy of the Arts, master’s level programmes are available at the Tallinn Technical University (design and product development), and at the University of Tartu Pärnu College (service design and management). Applied higher education can be obtained at the Tartu Art College, the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences, the Tallinn University Haapsalu College, and EuroAcademy. Vocational education is available at the Kuressaare Regional Training Centre and the Tartu Art School.

In 2015-2016 an elective course on design for high school students was created in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Research as well as the Estonian Design Centre. The course "Design Process" was run as a pilot in six high schools across Estonia in 2017. Since then, its materials together with implementation guidelines are published at the state curriculum database.

 

Statistics

 

  • More than 1000 people are employed in ca 700 companies that operate in the field of design.
  • Total revenue in the field is around 35,5 million euros.
 

Financing

 

The largest financer in the field of design is Enterprise Estonia, in addition to some grants awarded by Cultural Endowment of Estonia. The Ministry of Culture supports designers in their creative work through the Estonian Association of Designers, Estonian Graphic Designers' Association and a non-profit organisation Eesti Disainikeskus (Estonian Design Centre).

In addition, the Ministry of Culture supports the area of design through funding specific projects and activities. A grant programme by the Ministry of Culture – “Development projects in the field of architecture” – finances projects that aim to promote and enhance Estonian design.
 
International projects are supported by the state through the grant programme “Estonian Culture in the World”. The programme assists projects that enhance the international visibility of Estonian culture and the export thereof into the world, the introduction of Estonia globally through culture, and the creation of wider opportunities for Estonian creative persons. It also helps various cultural groups and creative enterprises to enter the international stage.
 

Design plays an important role in creative industries, which has also been funded since 2007 from the European Union structural funds. A creative industries measure developed by the Ministry of Culture and implemented by Enterprise Estonia aims at fulfilling the objectives of the “Estonian Entrepreneurship Growth Strategy 2014-2020”.

Design, design thinking and design competence is considered an important innovation driver for entrepreneurship, industry and the public sector, thus a priority for involved ministries, institutions and organisations.

 

International cooperation

 

The Ministry of Culture introduces Estonian design abroad in close cooperation with the Estonian Association of Designers and Eesti Disainikeskus (Estonian Design Centre).

Estonian Design House

In order to enhance the field of design, the Estonian Association of Designers has founded the Estonian Design House, which promotes the sale of work by Estonian designers on domestic and foreign markets, initiates new product development, and exports high-quality product design. Estonia cooperates actively with Finland on various products in a number of projects. Many joint activities have been started with France, too.
 

Tallinn Design House

Tallinn Design Houseis an environment in the Rotermanni quarter, where Estonian design is exhibited and sold. The showroom has a unique selection of Estonian design from fashion to furniture.
 

Overview exhibition of Estonian design – Size Doesn't Matter

The Estonian Association of Designers has developed a concept for introducing Estonian design abroad - it is called Size Doesn't Matter, and it is based on the juxtaposition of the smallness of our country and the abundance of designers and their achievements. The overview exhibition includes high-quality and limited release products, mostly the best examples of designers’ work plus innovative industrial products. The display shows items of home decoration and furnishing, such as textiles, furniture, light fixtures, ceramics, and glass, but also bikes, fashion accessories, packaging and books. More than 60 designers are represented at the exhibition. 
 
The first Size Doesn’t Matter exhibition took place from 24 April to 25 May 2014 in Brussels, Belgium, at the design gallery Design Vlaanderen.
 

Main partners

 

Enterprise Estonia
State support system for businesses, the aim of which is to enhance Estonian business and regional policies.

Eesti Disainikeskus
A development centre in and promoter of the field of design, established in 2008 by the Estonian Academy of Fine Arts, Tallinn Technical University, the Estonian Association of Designers and MTÜ Eesti Disaini Instituut (Estonian Design Institute). The aim is to be the link in the chain that connects the designer and the client, as well as being an advocate of the mind set “design as the creator of added value and the amplifier of innovation.” 

Estonian Association of Designers
An association that unites and represents designers, which was founded in 1989 with the general purpose of speaking for Estonian design.

Estonian Graphic Designers' Association

Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design (ETDM)
The museum’s collection was initiated in 1919 as part of the collections of the Estonian Art Museum. Today it offers the largest and most comprehensive overview of Estonian applied art and design.

 

Veronika Valk-Siska
Adviser (Architecture and design)

Phone +372 628 2207
Veronika.Valk@kul.ee

 

Last updated: 15 April 2019