Snowcone & Haystack is a strategic design practice focused on helping governments and leaders innovate.

I've worked with a broad range of organizations & institutions including: Helsinki City Department of Education, City of Nokia, Northen Ireland Department of Finance, Slovenian Ministry of Education, Helsinki City Executive Office,  Slovenian Ministry of Economy, Centro (Mexico City), Impact Hub Geneva, MIT Collaborative Initiatives, Nesta, Tallberg Foundation, Danish Architecture Association, OECD, EU Commission, Helsinki City Department of Youth, Prime Minister's Office (Finland),


In late August of 2013 I was setting up my practice and doing the hardest part: choosing a name. Then it dawned on me: Snowcone & Haystack!

But where does the name come from?

In 1969 as the US was about to go to the moon for the first time, the search was on for a name.  The previous mission, Apollo 10, kept with playful tradition choosing to call the spacecraft's command module (CM) and lunar module (LM) "Charlie Brown" and "Snoopy". But for this historic mission the prevailing though was that the names could not be lighthearted, but should rather carry a sense of gravitas; of weight. The launch team came up with the alternative pair of "Snowcone" and "Haystack" but that was dropped in favour of the more serious "Columbia" and "Eagle".

This is an excerpt from this amazing  1969 Technical Informantion Summary for NASA's Apollo 11 mission

Snowcone & Haystack represent the spirit of the alternative; sidestepping an either-or view of the world.

Snowcone & Haystack is as small as they get..... but I work with a broad range of collaborators; near and far. Innovation happens in small teams, and I'm keen on maintaining true to that spirit. Here's a bit of background on me; scroll below to see a sampling of past projects I've led.


 Marco Steinberg 

I believe we can solve the complex challenges that our governments, societies, and environment face. To do so we need to shift from trying to improve the efficiency of what was, to redesigning what could be. My passion is in helping leaders find the pathway to these strategic improvements.

I’m based out of Helsinki, Finland and share an office with Esko Aho, our former Prime Minister. We share a deep interest in helping governments transform themselves to meet 21st century challenges.

Prior to kick-starting Snowcone & Haystack, I was Strategic Design Director at Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund (2008-2013). There I led Sitra’s Strategic Design capability, launching a portfolio of initiatives to systemically address the acute need for strategic improvement in the public sector which included:

Helsinki Design Lab (HDL)  a global initiative to help address today’s large scale strategic redesign & transformation needs; Design Exchange Programme  an initiative embedding designers within public sector organizations; Low2No  a transitional strategy to create national carbon free urban development market in Finland through a real estate development project in downtown Helsinki.

At Sitra’ I had the privilege to learn and work with a team of the very best, including Bryan Boyer, Justin Cook and Dan Hill. You can look here for a full overview of our work.

Prior to Sitra I was an Associate Professor at the Harvard Design School (1999-2009). It became clear to me that real innovation was going to happen by challenging the current categories, not by working within them. I realized that our institutions are not equipped to tackle our most critical and fundamental issues. The last 5 years at Harvard I lead the Stroke Pathways Project, a healthcare initiative looking at the redesign of stroke care in the US. Healthcare is not a medical question, but a complex and systemic challenge- we need to frame it as a design challenge.

In my other current roles I am Chairman of the Board at the Museum of Finnish Architecture & advise many organizations. In the past I’ve advised governments on SME & design funding strategies; In the early 90’s I started my own design & architecture practice and had the privilege to work with Paul Kaiser and the OpenEndedGroup on installation with Merce Cunnigham and Bill T. Jones; Robert Wilson; Bill Viola; the John Cage Trust.  If you want to read more about my past, you will find some details on LinkedIn.


Some previous projects

Finnish Innovation Fund (2008-2013)


Harvard University (1999-2009)

  • Stroke Pathways Project
  • Valcucine environmental fabrication case study
  • Urban Lighting Project: iGuzzini LED lighting research
  • Patient Transport Module: CIMIT & MAssachussetts General Hospital
  • CAD/CAM Molded plywood wheelchair: Permobil, Sweden


Previous professional work (-1999)

  • Alphabet, Stage Set Design
  • Technical Director for Robert Wilson's New World Theater project
  • other...