Design. Design. Design. Aesthetics fuel a new cool. Copenhagen’s culinary awakening and Stockholm’s trend-setting fashion may have ignited the world’s current infatuation with Nordic culture; now Helsinki is poised for the spotlight. The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design has designated it the World Design Capital for 2012. Design has long been part of the city’s DNA, but in recent years the scene has been increasingly energized: the official Design District has ballooned to encompass 25 streets and nearly 200 design-minded businesses, which range from shops selling housewares and furniture to boutique hotels and clothing stores. Design has infiltrated the restaurant scene as well, notably the elegant Chez Dominique and the hot newcomer (and Michelin-starred) Olo. On top of all that is the spectacular new $242 million Helsinki Music Center. Student ensembles from the Sibelius Academy — the sole university in Finland devoted exclusively to music — will perform in the striking glass-walled space, and both the Vienna Philharmonic and the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestras will give concerts in 2012.
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