Finnish design industry aims for growth

The Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo’s annual economic forecast reveals a positive outlook among Finland’s design industry. A survey shows that Finnish design businesses are seeing an acceleration in their turnover growth, with profitability also rising year-on-year.

More than half of the businesses surveyed by Ornamo reported an increase in their turnover compared with the same time last year. 

Ornamo’s annual economic survey provides an overview of the Finnish design industry and current trends. This year’s survey was carried out in June 2016 and attracted responses from 130 Finnish design sector businesses. 

The total turnover of Finnish design businesses stood at EUR 3.1bn in 2014, while in 2013 the same figure was EUR 3.2bn. The industry employs some 19,600 people. 

Finnish design exports facing headwind
Exports remain a key challenge for the sector, with the current situation not meeting industry expectations. Despite the positive outlook, the industry is failing to deliver growth across the board due to the export performance. 

Underlying this is the radical downscaling of Finland’s manufacturing sector, which previously acted as a key driver of the wider Finnish economy. The excellent performance delivered by the service industry is not sufficient to compensate for the hole created by the decision, taken by high-profile Finnish companies such as Finlayson, Marimekko and Nanso, to move their manufacturing abroad. 

According to the survey findings the international figures have remained unchanged since 2013. Of the businesses currently engaged in export activity, 38% reported that exports represent under 10% of their total turnover. 

As such, success in pursuing new business on the international market will be of critical importance to the industry as a whole. 

”At the EU level, design leads the way in intangible exports. Design has expanded conceptually to encompass services and strategic planning and, having done so, is ideally place to offer added value to several other export sectors,” Salla Heinänen, Executive Director at the Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo, commented. 

The current situation highlights the need to reform the international export system, an issue Ornamo has consistently promoted. 

“As we develop our export strategy, it is important that we view design as part of the wider product development and innovation sector. For example, Finnish design agencies have a genuine role to play in exporting our technological innovations onto the wider international market,” Heinänen argues. 

Find out more: