Design

Design is a thriving creative field in Estonia, which includes product, service, graphic and fashion design, but we are also increasingly associating design with a people-centred and creative way of solving problems, i.e. a process.

Since 2014, design has been a field of activity under the administration of the Ministry of Culture. Previously, design was the responsibility of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications. Design policy was part of Estonia's enterprise policy from 2007 to 2013. In 2012–2013, a national action plan for design was implemented.

This was the first phase of a state support policy aimed at the development of design usage. The goal of the action plan was to increase the use of design in business and to promote the development of design as an important sector of the creative economy. Under the leadership of and with the cooperation of various ministries and organizations, activities were carried out to increase design awareness and knowledge and skills, support the development of design offices and the growth of their exports, and promote the quality of design education.

From 2016 to 2018, the Ministry of Culture participated in the creation of a design document in the field of design, an effort that was led by the Estonian Design Centre, the sectoral development centre and strategic partner.

Under the leadership of the Ministry of Culture, research on the use of design is being carried out that aims to map and analyse the use of design in both private and state-owned companies and state-run foundations in order to get a comprehensive picture of design use and development opportunities.

The Ministry of Culture co-operates with the Ministry of Social Affairs and other agencies and organizations to promote the accessibility of the living environment and to implement the principles of universal design in planning and creating a living environment accessible to all. The Ministry of Culture participates in the work of the Accessibility Council.

The innovation program of the Ministry of the Interior, implemented under the leadership of the Estonian Design Centre, clearly shows that the public sector can and must be innovative, and that the acquired experience will be passed on within the ministry as well as withing the administrative area.

Statistics

  • Approximately 700 companies and more than 1,000 people are active in the field of design in Estonia.
  • Design generates average sales revenues of about €35.5 million annually.

Education

Higher education in design can be acquired at the following schools: Estonian Academy of Arts; at the master's level at the Tallinn University of Technology (design and product development) and University of Tartu Pärnu College (service design and management); applied higher education at the Pallas Art College, Mainor Estonian Business School, Tallinn University Haapsalu College and Euroacademy; and vocational education at Kuressaare Vocational School and Tartu Art School.

From 2015 to 2016, an elective course in design studies was prepared for the upper secondary school students in general education schools as a cooperative project of the Ministry of Education and Research and the Estonian Design Centre. In 2017, the course was launched as a pilot project in six schools. Since September 2017, the working version of the elective course called “The Design Process” with the related instructional materials for its implementation in order to conduct the study process have been published on the information portal of the state curriculum, and upper secondary schools can include it when designing their curricula.

Design Night

Design Night is a design festival held every autumn in Tallinn, which aims to elucidate the nature of design and determine its limits. The festival includes seminars, workshops, exhibitions, competitions and performances. See more on the Design Night website.

Design awards

Estonian design awards are also presented on Design Night. The aim of the design awards is to value, recognise and promote good design, which, in addition to aesthetic pleasure, also offers solutions for improving the living environment in a nature-saving and sustainable way. 

In addition, as part of the Enterprise Award competition, every other year the Enterprise Estonia Foundation awards the title of Designer of the Year, which aims to highlight a company whose significant success has been based on the strategic application of design in the development of its products or services, or the management of its company. The Entrepreneurship Award competition is the highest state recognition for outstanding and forward-looking entrepreneurs. Also see the Enterprise Estonia website.

Important partners

Enterprise Estonia
One of the largest institutions of the state business support system, the task of which is to implement Estonian business and regional policy by offering financial support, counselling, cooperation opportunities and training to entrepreneurs, research institutions, the public and the third sector.

Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications

Estonian Design Centre
The goal is to be the link between the designers and clients in the field, and to be the spokesperson for the idea of “design being a creator of added value and an amplifier of innovation”. Read more on the Estonian Design Centre website.

Estonian Association of Designers
An association uniting and representing designers, established in 1989, with the general objective of representing Estonian design.

Estonian Graphic Designers' Association
The purpose of the EGDA is to promote creativity, support and encourage the creative activities of its members. As well as valuing the social status of EGDA artists and protecting professional, economic, intellectual property and copyright interests and creative freedom.

Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design
The collection of the museum was founded in 1919 when the Art Museum of Estonia was established. The museum collection is comprised of the most valuable and comprehensive collection of professional Estonian applied art and design.

Contact

Veronika Valk-Siska

Adviser (Architecture and Design)

Last updated: 10.01.2021