Design Exchange Programme

Design Exchange Programme (DEP) was a pilot organized by the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra together with cities of Lahti and Helsinki, Ministry of Employment and the Economy and Ministry of the Environment.

Governments face tremendous transformation challenges that they are not equipped to deal with. Built to administer, the public sector needs the capability to innovate the way it works. The Design Exchange was focused on helping build innovation capability, by placing strategic designers within the public sector. The intent of the programme was to offer government new tools for delivering on its responsibilities and at the same time, developing tools and methodologies of design that are suitable within the government context.

Hella Hernberg was one of the four designers who were embedded within Finland’s ministries and municipalities as full-time employees for a year. She worked at the Ministry of the Environment focusing on two projects related to sustainable and energy efficient built environment and consumption. The main design focus was on human-centered design methods, interaction design, systems thinking and visualisation.

Hella was in charge of Tyhjät tilat (Vacant Spaces) project, which searched for new methods to better utilize the wasted resource of existing unused spaces, through an interactive process with various stakeholders.

Ekokoti (Green Home) was a pilot project of sustainable consumption and production, led by Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). Hella worked as a mentor, helping the research team understand behavioral change and human-centered design. The main questions were, how to make ecological daily choices attractive to the masses, and how to motivate people to change their behavior towards a more sustainable lifestyle.


  • Client: Ministry of the Environment, Sitra
  • Duration: Nov.2012-Nov.2013