A ALTO UNIVERSIT Y MAGA ZINE 18
18 ISSN 1799-9324 / ISSN 2323-4571 ISSN-L 1799-9324 DECEMBER 2016
Kokoon Housing for migrants
Brains without boundaries
Virtual reality is virtually here
INSIDE COVERS & CENTREFOLD: Illustrators Samar Zureik and Taina Tirkkonen envision the dilemma between competitive society and welfare society, and how to resolve it with the help of design: “A designer’s responsibility is to try and help especially those who occupy the most difficult positions in our society. Even tiny design solutions can make people’s life easier and more pleasant!”
Thinking further aﬁeld Europe’s most interesting growth entrepreneurship event Slush attracted more than 17 000 technology enthusiasts, startups and investors from all corners of the globe to Helsinki at the turn of November – December. In just a few years, Slush has become a success story with global reach. Aalto University students inherited the event in 2011. At the time, it only had capacity for a couple of hundred people, but the students have since grown it into a global phenomenon. The right people with the necessary expertise, boldness and the essential creativity had to come together for this to happen. In an article written for this issue, Karen Korellis Reuther, leader of creative functions at VF Corporation, the parent company o of more than 30 lifestyle brands, notes how important importa it is for business people to also study creative disc disciplines, such as design. Design teaches empathic thinking, putting people ﬁrst, she says. Kevin Tavin is responsible for Professor Ke Wide Art Studies, a selection of University W aimed at all Aalto students, and he courses aime believes that introducing art and creative thinking to ﬁelds with which they are not traditionally associated is important. traditionall Ideally, fres fresh perspectives will uncover the limitati limitations of our thought and highlight questions of o an entirely new kind. “By pushing and troubling boundaries, push we have the opportunity to create and develop com completely new ideas that help us to work bette better, take better care of ourselves, of others, and of the world – so that we can all build and share sha in a more fulﬁlling vision of the sums up. th he future,” Tavin T
COVER The Kokoon house designed by students was on display next to the Museum of Finnish Architecture. Read more about it on page 40.
taila llee Kata Kall
Eveliina Olsson Olsso Editor-in-chief Editor-in-chie
Hyvä lukija, tämä lehti on kokon kokonaan englanniksi, mutta juttujen suomenkielisiä suom käännöksiä on verkossa osoittee osoitteessa aalto.ﬁ/magazine. AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 3
On the job SAMAR ZUREIK illustrated the inside covers and centrefold of this issue. She is a Jordanian illustrator, graphic designer or a collector of random trinkets, or perhaps all three. Samar is currently living in Finland and doing an MA in Visual Communication Design. She has previous experience in advertising with Leo Burnett and has also worked in branding and graphic design with Syntax Jordan while also freelancing as an illustrator on the side. Samar enjoys experimenting between Eastern and Western design culture. She ﬁnds Arabic calligraphy fascinating, children’s books magical and 90s patterns cool. “People’s personal sketchbooks are my favourite form of art. They are experimental, full of identity, and have a voice that is free from cultural or commercial judgement.”
TAINA TIRKKONEN illustrated the inside covers and centrefold of this issue. She is an AD and graphic designer who has worked with many industry ﬁrms over the last decade. A dramatic deepening in her interest in more complex storytelling and conceptuality prompted a return to University to take part in the Master’s Programme in Visual Communication Design. Taina ﬁnds it impossible to name one art work that is above all others, but, in the last few years, the most meaningful to her has been Lars von Trier’s multidimensional movie Antichrist. “It sheds light on humanity’s deeprooted misogyny through a couple who have lost their child and, in spite of its brutality, is a very feminist ﬁlm. It provokes thought and enchants with its ambience.”
ANNA MUCHENIKOVA illustrated this
issue’s main article. She is a graphic designer and illustrator who graduated from the MA Programme of Graphic Design in 2014. She now works as a graphic designer at Aalto University. In her artistic work, she cultivates a black and white graphic style using manual techniques, mostly hand drawing with ink on paper. Anna’s favourite art piece is The Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. “I like its graphic quality, all the small details and overall melancholic mood as well as Bruegel’s impression of the insigniﬁcance of human aspiration as opposed to the grandiose beauty and indifference of nature.”
PUBLISHER: Aalto University, Communications EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Eveliina Olsson MANAGING EDITOR: Paula Haikarainen GRAPHIC DESIGN IN THIS ISSUE: Annukka Mäkijärvi TUTORING AD/PHOTO EDITOR: Liisa Seppo, Otavamedia OMA Oy CONTRIBUTORS IN THIS ISSUE: Maija Astikainen, Tim Bird, John Dugan, Andrew Flowers, Glen W. Forde, Marc Goodwin, Juho Haavisto,
Tuomas Hämäläinen, Minna Hölttä, Liisa Jokinen, Kaapo Kamu, Kalle Kataila, Anne Kinnunen, Camille Kirnidis, Veera Konsti, Reko Laurilehto, Eeva Lehtinen, David Lewis, Anna Muchenikova, Elina Peltonen, Ville Piippo, Tiiu Pohjolainen, Aleksi Poutanen, Jussi Puikkonen, Marjukka Puolakka, Mikko Raskinen, Joanna Sinclair, Eeva Suorlahti, Taina Tirkkonen, Outi Törmälä, Tuomas Uusheimo, Bryce Vickmark, Chris Vidal, Samar Zureik COVER: Marc Goodwin TRANSLATION: Ned Kelly Coogan ADDRESS: PO Box 17800, FI-00076 Aalto TELEPHONE: +358 9 470 01 ONLINE: aalto.ﬁ, aalto.ﬁ/magazine E-MAIL: magazine@aalto.ﬁ CHANGE OF ADDRESS: alumni@aalto.ﬁ PRINTING COMISSIONED BY: Unigraﬁa Oy PRINTING: Libris Oy, 2016 PAPER: Edixion 250 g/m2 (cover) & 120 g/m2 (pages) PRINT RUN: 34 500 PUBLISHED THREE TIMES A YEAR
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03 Editorial 04 On the job 06 Now Current issues column 08 Openings Vice President Anna Valtonen says that creativity can bring fresh approaches into complex challenges.
09 Professor Zach Dodson beneﬁted from Oops!
a sense of adventure in a trial and error plunge into publishing.
10 12 18
Awarded We meet with new Nobel laureates Professor Bengt Holmström and Visiting Research Fellow Michael Kosterlitz.
topic 36 On Lecturer Tuomas Laitinen puts his extensive fashion industry networks at the service of his students.
topic 38 On Vice Dean Saija Hollmén conducts the Aalto WiT LAB network, which connects research, education and grassroots action.
39 Visiting Fulbright Distinguished Professor Kiel Moe focuses on lifespan thinking in architecture.
40 Wow! Kokoon is a modular and transportable housing solution designed by students.
42 Wow! ‘Migrant crisis in Europe,
Theme Art and creative thinking help push boundaries and raise questions in the ﬁelds of business and technology, too.
destination Lesvos’ was the starting point of the LIFT project.
43 Wow! Students Salla Luhtasela and Wesley Walters designed everyday objects for the KOTI installation in Paris.
Theme The Design for government course applies design thinking to policy making.
20 Who Cinematographer Peter Flinckenberg has realised his dream of working in the movie Mecca of Hollywood.
topic 26 On Design students created “LOUDspeakers” in collaboration with Bang & Olufsen.
44 In-house The new campus is rising in Otaniemi. theses 46 Doctoral Marc Goodwin’s doctoral thesis examined the conventions of architectural photography.
choices 48 Everyday Professor Jaana Beidler says sneakers are proper and suitable shoes for any occasion.
29 Column Aalto Board Chair Anne Brunila calls
Oikaisu Aalto University Magazinen numerossa 17 sivulla 26 mainittiin virheellisesti professori Antti Oulasvirran johtaman tutkimushankkeen rahoittaja. Virkkeen oikea muoto on: Hänen johtamansa hanke Itseoptimoivat wwwpalvelut sai kolmivuotisen 370 000 euron rahoituksen Jane ja Aatos Erkon säätiöltä ja Teknologiateollisuuden 100-vuotissäätiöltä.
for long-term cooperation between universities and companies.
topic 32 On Professor Aleksi Bardy brings VR enthusiasts closer together at the University’s new Media Center.
Theme THIS ISSUE SHOWS how art and
creativity can renew our society.
there 34 InA:Space is a place for co-creation.
AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 5
Hannu Vallas | Lehtikuva
Helsinki area 4th best in Europe to grow a digital business _
THE INDEX COMPILED by the innovation foundation Nesta measures how well Europe’s cities support digital entrepreneurship in early stage startups and scaleups. Scoring highly on nearly every dimension of the index, the Helsinki metropolitan region is ranked 4th best city for digital businesses, right after London, Stockholm and Amsterdam. Nesta mentions that especially Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have a major inﬂuence on the area: “Aalto University and the VTT – two large, multidisciplinary research institutions – both play important roles in connecting the deep technical base with design and business skills.” Other factors include the presence of Nokia, which exerted signiﬁcant inﬂuence for many years and helped
in establishing a strong ICT and software talent pool in the region. Furthermore, there is a strong state support for innovation in Finland. The index notes that Helsinki-based companies excel on a regular basis in listings of the most innovative startups in the world. There are around 90 game development companies in Helsinki area and it is home to some of the world’s leading gaming companies such as Supercell and Rovio. Other signiﬁcant startup sectors include, for example, software and digital services, health tech, as well as environmental and energy technologies and services. Today, Helsinki region is a home for over 500 tech startups and numerous incubators and accelerator programmes.
Students and alumnus awarded at Slush
A new light detector to revolutionise imaging
Accenture’s Digital Innovation Challenge as a part of Slush16. The winning team designed a programme which uses open data to ﬁnd jobs for immigrants. Antti Korpelainen, Minna Rissanen and Stella Kallionpää made the service, called Hidden Gems. Additionally, Aalto alumnus Stevan Keraudy’s start-up won the Slush 100 pitch contest which included an equity investment prize of €500 000. His company, CybelAngel, creates big data solutions to solve cyber security issues. 6 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
A GROUP OF AALTO students won
A research team led by Professor Hele Savin has developed a new light detector that can capture more than 96% of the photons covering the visible, ultraviolet and infra-red wavelengths. “Present-day light detectors suffer from severe reﬂection losses as current anti-reﬂection coatings are limited to speciﬁc wavelengths and a ﬁxed angle of incidence. Our detector captures light without such limitations by taking advantage of a nanostructured surface. A low incident angle is useful especially in scintillating X-ray sensors,” Savin explains. The full ﬁndings were published in Nature Photonics.
Fundraising campaign in full swing _ AALTO UNIVERSITY’S fundraising
campaign is entering its ﬁnal stretch. By the beginning of December, more than €12 million had been raised from almost 170 donors. The goal of the campaign, which will run until the end of June 2017, is to raise a total of €20 million. Academic Engineers and Architects in Finland TEK announced its €380 thousand donation to Aalto at its 120th anniversary seminar at Otaniemi in November. Tekniska föreningen i Finland announced its €34 thousand contribution at the same event. The donations were accepted by Provost Ilkka Niemelä, who said investing in competence was of key
signiﬁcance for innovation, competitiveness and the future of Finland. Neste Corporation took part in the campaign in October by giving a total of €1.5 million to Aalto and three other Finnish universities. There is a long history of cooperation between Neste and Aalto University. Common areas of research and development include, among others, products of chemical industries and renewable traffic fuels. Aalto alumni have been enthusiastic about the campaign, giving money and taking part in challenge campaigns arranged in conjunction with, for example, the School of Business Homecoming Day in August and the School
of Electrical Engineering’s Alumni Weekend in November. More challenges are in store towards the end of the campaign. The Finnish State has pledged to add up to three euro on top each euro donated to the University’s endowment. Donors can target their gift to a fund associated with one of three speciﬁc sectors of education: business, the arts or technology.
• Find out more about donating and the fundraising campaign at giving.aalto.ﬁ.
_ 110 entries, 340 academic experts, more than 160 organisations competing for €375 000 in the Helsinki Challenge, a science-based idea competition in 2017.
Link found between tropical storms and river delta decline _ A RECENT STUDY shows that changes in the behaviour of cyclones mean less sediment is running into rivers upstream of the Mekong Delta, starving it of material vital for guarding against ﬂooding. Deltas are landforms made from sediment washed into rivers and carried downstream. The sediment builds up where the river meets slow-moving or still water, such as seas or lakes. “Deltas naturally subside under their own weight, so a constant ﬂow of new deposits is vital to offset these changes and prevent ﬂooding, which could be disastrous to agriculture and the environment,” explains Assistant Professor Matti Kummu from Aalto University. “Our study is the ﬁrst to show the signiﬁcant role tropical storms play in delivering sediment to large river deltas. Human activity affects the amount of sediment, but cyclonic activity is also a very important contributing factor,” says the lead researcher, Professor Stephen Darby of the University of Southampton. The Mekong is the world’s thirdlargest river delta at 39 000 square kilometres. It’s home to 20 million people and has a large agricultural area vital to the economy of Vietnam. The international team developed
a new method of analysing archived measurements of water discharge into the Mekong River to detect sediment concentration dating back over two decades. Then, by modelling water ﬂows through the Mekong’s channels, they were able to isolate the impact of changes in tropical storms on the river’s sediment load. Their data shows that of all the sediment transported to the delta, one-third is due to tropical cyclones. It also shows that the Mekong’s sediment load has declined markedly in recent years – largely due to changes in the location and intensity of storms. The research has implications globally because other major rivers such as the Ganges, the Yangtze and the Mississippi have catchments that are regularly struck by tropical storms. Some 500 million people live and work in the world’s major river deltas. This study indicates that changes in storm climatology must also be considered when evaluating their future vulnerability to sea-level rise. The study was undertaken by the universities of Southampton, Exeter and Hull (UK), Illinois (USA) and Aalto University (Finland). The ﬁndings were published in Nature. AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 7
Words from the University’s leaders.
A brave horizon
RT MATTERS. We all know this and can talk
about its beauty or import in an abstract sense: how cultural or political movements can be shaped by art; how great cinema, graphic novels, photographs or paintings can move us to tears; how design or craftsmanship can add to the experience, livability or ergonomics of a thing. We know that art, and art-based activities, matter. But when it comes to society, the question remains: to what extent? Sometimes we hear that art, architecture or design are surface treatments, something nice to look at, but not as valuable as our economic or scientiﬁc drivers. At the same time, we can examine the needs of industry more broadly and see a demand for innovation, ideation and critical thinking. We want to educate young people to work within ambiguity, to navigate the unknown and to do so with great passion and dedication. This is also what society at large needs. If we want to ﬁnd completely new viewpoints and solutions to our challenges at hand we need multiple perspectives. We need to complement our “if-then” thinking with some “what-if ?” Today’s challenges are often complex, networked and global, so creativity is needed. Only focusing on one approach, be it in any ﬁeld, will only give us incremental improvements. Not radical shifts. The pages of this issue present examples of global actors like our alumnus, Cinematographer Peter Flinckenberg, of collaboration in the dynamic and playful A:Space, of partnerships with companies like
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Bang & Olufsen, of using art and design as a broader approach in our University Wide Art Studies and tackling global challenges through the building of stackable Kokoon Housing for migrants. Art and creativity have a large stake in reﬂecting on and renewal of modern education. We must continue to be bold and adventurous, we must be conﬁdent enough to try something new, to learn from it and to push ourselves towards the limits of our understanding or comfort. Again, we know that art matters. We can see it manifested in the energy and passion of our students, professors and researchers. Yet creativity is not clinical or obvious, it brings a different element to the mixture. It can introduce a different viewpoint into a familiar challenge or highlight an entirely new challenge to approach. So, when we look to the next generation for solutions to the many of the world’s pressing problems, it is our students who are uniquely qualiﬁed to be brave enough to do so. And that’s a truly beautiful thing.
Anna Valtonen Vice President of Aalto University, Dean of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture
This section recounts an event that didn’t go according to plan.
Sticktoitiveness Professor Zach Dodson, head of the Master’s Programme in Visual Communication Design remembers inauspicious moments as a DIY designer and publisher in Chicago. Text John Dugan Photo Aleksi Poutanen Illustration Annukka Mäkijärvi “I LEARNED something designing Brian Costello’s 2005 book, The Enchanters vs. Sprawlburg Springs, it was this story of a punk rock band in a Florida suburb. It’s not a very good design, but the cover was extraordinarily ambitious. The cover featured a photo of the Florida suburbs. I had the idea that we would print actual band stickers and stick them on the cover of each book and write vs. in Sharpie pen and it will be analogous to what the band in the book is doing. I thought that was a great idea. We printed the books, we printed the stickers.” “It was a terrible idea, because it meant we had to put each sticker on each book and write vs. on the cover, which took forever. The ﬁrst run was a thousand copies, so we were in my apartment for days stickering books. And I printed the stickers and the covers with the same gloss, so when you put the cheap thin sticker on the cover, you couldn’t tell it was a sticker unless you held it up to your nose.” “It’s fun to put one sticker on one book but after number 324, you’re over it.” Running Featherproof Books from 2005 to 2014, Dodson beneﬁted from a sense of adventure and naiveté in a trial and error plunge into publishing. The Featherproof gang drove overnight for a “book-
seller’s fest” that was a bust and found that its iPhone app arrived too late to make a splash. But its unorthodox efforts resulted in projects no established publisher would dare. “With Blake Butler’s book of post-apocalyptic short stories Scorch Atlas, I designed it to look like it was ruined by the world it was set in. When we sold em, the brave ordered their copies ‘pre-destroyed’. We took those books, kicked them around, put em in the shower, put em on the BBQ, tore out the spines and sent them to people in a totally destroyed state. They loved it.” Those that are known to integrate “mistakes” into their creative process, Miles Davis with “no wrong notes” and WIRED magazine designer Scott Dadich’s slightly off covers fascinate Dodson, but as a writer (his Bats of the Republic was selected as one of Design Observer 50 Books of 2015) he pursues perfection. “I deﬁnitely wrote my second book in some ways to erase my ﬁrst book. Just to say I know I can do this better, I want to try again. And I feel that way about my book now. I think there’s something about always being dissatisﬁed. If I wrote one that I was really satisﬁed with it might save me a lot of time, but I probably wouldn’t write another.”
AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 9
Contract theorist appreciates healthy competition Professor Holmström was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. He works at MIT and is a member of the Aalto University Board. BENGT HOLMSTRÖM ﬁrst left for the USA in 1974 with an ASLA-Fulbright scholarship. The young man ﬁrst upgraded his Bachelor’s into a Master’s degree at Stanford University before also completing a doctorate there in 1978. He returned to Europe after three full productive years in America, but his return proved to be short-lived. “Requests for me to go back to the United States soon started to come in from several universities. I ended up at Northwestern, which I knew to be a centre of high-standard research on incentives and related issues.” After Northwestern, Holmström’s career progressed via Yale to the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he still works as Professor at the Department of Economics.
a reputation that makes them desirable elsewhere as well, providing them with the freedom to choose where they work,” Holmström notes and merrily adds that he himself has never received ﬁnancial bonuses.
Competition is good
Holmström is a well-liked teacher and an advocate for student concerns. He says students are important. “In the United States, universities are viewed sort of similarly to shopping centres. Teachers are storekeepers and the students are customers who are looked after well. If things don’t work, a student can always select another university.” Holmström thinks both students and researchers should move around more, see the world and gain experience of different ways of thinking. Mobility and the availability of options increase Inﬂuencing decision-making provides motivation competition between universities. He Although Bengt Holmström’s permanent thinks that this is a good thing. “Competition between universities is residence is in Boston, he is an active tough in the USA. Healthy competition is participant in Finnish economic debate what created the nation’s high-standard as well. Just this August, Holmström academic institutions – state authorities and the economists Vesa Vihriälä and and legislation could not have achieved Sixten Korkman co-authored a report about the need to realign Finnish such results.” economic policy. Some of the report’s recommendations have already been implemented. “Motivation for scientiﬁc work is boosted if society takes researchers seriously,” Holmström reckons. “Various committees and organs take science into consideration quite well in the United States. Here, it is typical for Congress, i.e. the legislature, to invite researchers to speak at hearings concerning problematic situations, and these hearings are televised as well. Researchers need to have good argumentative skills and an ability to respond to comments.” Bengt Holmström shared the Nobel Prize with Oliver Hart. The two were recognised for their contributions to the ﬁeld of contract theory. Holmström has also studied incentive systems extensively. “For researchers, the best incentive for good work comes from building up 10 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
Text Eeva Lehtinen Photo Bryce Vickmark
The top is attainable from small countries This international academic has seen many universities and learned to appreciate diversity. “High-standard research can be performed in any part of the world. All countries and systems have strengths and weaknesses that can be learned from. A good research group can be quite small, as long as it isn’t lacking in enthusiasm and its members can understand one another,” Bengt Holmström says. “It’s perfectly possible to start in Finland and reach the top of the world in many different areas. Information ﬂows rapidly, and a company, university or a researcher can be located anywhere. A university’s reputation and interesting research will attract good scientists.” Serving on the Aalto University Board has kept him in touch with matters in Finland. “I believe that Aalto’s future is bright. A lot of good things have happened in just a short time: the students have been invested in, there are plenty of highquality researchers and Aalto’s lively entrepreneurship activities have been noticed globally,” the Nobel Prize winner says.
ing t a r b Cele rize P l e Nob ners n i W
Fun problem solving rewarded Michael Kosterlitz, a visiting researcher at Aalto, uncovered new properties of exotic matter by not knowing it was impossible. Text Minna Hölttä Photo Mikko Raskinen THE ATMOSPHERE inside Aalto Univer-
sity’s red brick walls can be as still as the sleeping sea on any given fall afternoon. The life of jovial Visiting Research Fellow Michael Kosterlitz is far from serene these days, however. “I could not sleep due to the adrenaline, and now there are 800 emails waiting in my inbox,” said Kosterlitz, who received news of his Nobel Prize recognition in October during a visit to Aalto University. “This is just unreal. I came here for a couple of months to do research, but now it seems that my plans for the last month will be changing,” said the fresh Nobel Laureate who was busy working as a Visiting Research Fellow at Aalto with Professor Tapio Ala-Nissilä. Michael Kosterlitz, who works at Brown University in the US, is one of the most internationally renowned researchers of theoretical condensed matter and statistical physics. He received the Nobel Prize in physics alongside David Thouless and Duncan Haldane ‘for theoretical discoveries
of topological phase transitions and topological phases of matter’.
Ground-breaking research Topology is a branch of mathematics describing the gradual changes of properties and the term ‘phase’ refers to the different states of matter. In the 1970s, Kosterlitz and Thouless used topology to prove that, although 2D materials that are one atom layer thick are not arranged the same way as 3D materials at low temperatures. They have a clear organisation, which is broken when heated due to the vortex and anti-vortex pairs breaking. Unlike the scientiﬁc community believed at the time, 2D materials did have speciﬁc phase transitions and could be superconductive. “Since I was young and ignorant, I was unaware of the many limitations established by conventional wisdom, so I merely saw an interesting, strange physics problem that was fun to solve,” Kosterlitz says with a grin. As he saw it, it was only meant to be
a theory with no intended application. Later on, exotic, structurally unknown materials have been eagerly studied and potential applications have been found in, for example, electronics and materials sciences.
Working together for 25 years Ala-Nissilä, who was hosting Kosterlitz’s visit, is researching how to utilise phase transitions for storing heat. At the moment, Kosterlitz and Ala-Nissilä are researching surface structures and developing a new theoretical approach for the solidiﬁcation of liquid matter. “I met Tapio when he was visiting Brown University as a postdoctoral researcher,” Kosterlitz recalls. “We have worked together for 25 years now. Working at Aalto is very different than working at home, where I am focused on theory, whereas here, the focus is more on technological material physics. It has been great to see how many fascinating problems there are with materials research – and that’s why I keep coming back here.” AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 11
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Brains without boundaries As the lines blur between creative and analytical roles in the modern workplace, people should be encouraged to take more advantage of art and creative thinking. Text Andrew Flowers Illustrations Anna Muchenikova
AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 13
ROM EARLY in life we’re trained to separate
the rational from the irrational; to distinguish between analysis and imagination. We’re subtly and overtly asked to choose the left brain or the right, and over time come to consider ourselves as “better at numbers, or better at pictures.” This dichotomy has traditionally played out in the business world too, where we’re seen as either rational decision makers, or creative thinkers. While most modern companies recognise that both types of people are needed, roles are often still split along a line between the two modes. The rational dimension drives business strategy with hard facts and calculated targets, for example, while creative thinking typically plays a stronger role in design and marketing efforts. This traditional split makes sense in so much as it utilises people’s relative strengths. However, the model often fails to fully grasp the opportunity for each side to contribute to the work of the other. By making underlying business decisions from a purely analytical standpoint, a company may overlook a valuable market or trend. On the other hand, designing or marketing with too much free-wheeling creativity can simply cost money and slow a company down. The answer? An emerging kind of cross-disciplinary thinking where rational analysis meets empathic understanding.
Antti Kujala talks at length about how the separation between traditional roles is becoming increasingly blurred. “It’s getting harder to isolate or deﬁne speciﬁc functions within companies, particularly when it comes to marketing or design,” says Kujala.
Antti Kujala, Suunto
“Traditionally, business leadership has been about analysis; about breaking something down into its constituent parts and making decisions based on what the numbers show. But this is shifting, and nowadays there is much more talk about empathy as the way to understanding the consumer and building a brand. This is where roles get blurred, because anyone in an organisation can put this hat on and contribute to the discussion.” Kujala illustrates his point with reference to an internal project Suunto undertook a year ago, where employees from marketing, sales, design, R&D and manufacturing came together to ask: what problem Putting empathy ﬁrst in the world can Suunto help people to overcome? One company where employees are working together in “Our purpose at Suunto is to inspire and equip this way is Suunto, a market leader for diving and sports everyone to live a healthy and active life. So the watches. Asked about the role of cross-disciplinary question is: how does this mission manifest in our thinking in the workplace, the company’s design head brand?” says Kujala. 14 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
“TRADITIONALLY, LEADERSHIP HAS BEEN ABOUT ANALYSIS. THIS IS SHIFTING, NOWADAYS THERE IS MORE TALK ABOUT EMPATHY.” “At the moment, our products record 23 different biometric variables. But we don’t necessarily need to add in 24 or 25, because that may not be what inspires the user. We need to ask ourselves what it is we can create that will show empathy.” “This is where cross-disciplinary, creative thinking from anyone has a strong role to play,” he says. “You can inﬂuence and help shape the foundation of a brand, and once this is done it shapes all the future work you do.”
Feeling the colour Kujala’s view is echoed across the Atlantic by Karen Korellis Reuther, who leads the creative functions at US-based VF Corporation, the parent company of more than 30 lifestyle brands including Vans, Timberland, The North Face, Lee and Wrangler. She also spent 12 years working in product design for Nike.
an argument for colour, for instance, as then it becomes subjective. It’s about the connection that colour has to people’s lives.” “This is why I think it’s very important for purely business people to also study creative disciplines, such as design,” she says. “Design teaches empathic thinking, putting people ﬁrst, understanding who you are designing for. It also teaches the need to iterate, prototype and take risks – things you don’t necessarily see when you approach business purely from the objective position.” Korellis Reuther recently collaborated with Aalto’s Professor Jaana Beidler on a colour and materials project for future designers. Several breakthrough concepts were created during this collaboration, and as a result one of Aalto’s students was invited to join VF Corp in California to further develop her work.
Breaking down boundaries
Karen Korellis Reuther, VF Corporation
“In the athletic footwear world, it’s easy to defend the decision to make a product that is lighter in weight, as reducing weight has a very clear function. So this is a purely objective conversation,” says Korellis Reuther. “It’s more difficult though when it comes to making
Aalto University is embracing multidisciplinarity by encouraging its students to take courses outside their ﬁeld of study. Aalto has created the University Wide Art Studies programme, which offers students from any discipline the opportunity to take a series of ﬁeldneutral courses with a creative and cultural dimension. This way Aalto students get the best of both worlds. “As a student at Aalto you can do work that is multidisciplinary – or even anti-disciplinary – creating something that challenges boundaries and doesn’t belong to a single ﬁeld,” says Professor Kevin Tavin, Head of the Department of Art. “This creates opportunities that may not be available at other universities.” AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 15
Kevin Tavin, Aalto University
As an example, Tavin refers to a collective of ﬁve students who call themselves Brains on Art, led by Aalto art graduate Kasperi Mäki-Reinikka. The ﬁve ﬁrst became friends at high school, then went off to study art, cognitive science, computer science and electrical engineering. They kept in touch, meeting from time to time to grapple with the way each of their world views were being shaped differently through their diverse academic experiences. Unable to reconcile their views through conversation alone, the crew decided on another way to try and ﬁnd some shared answers: they would produce art together. The result is a startling collective that combines cognitive science and art. Their signature project is an interactive poetry generator, where an electroencephalogram (EEG) monitor on a user’s head measures their brainwaves and then produces a poem on a screen in real time. The style, meter and wording used in the poem differ widely between individuals, depending on the brain activity read by the EEG. Other projects from Brains on Art include an interactive stock market performance tool that uses electric balance manipulation, a virtual petri dish pool where digital organisms are created from bio-signals, and a forthcoming exhibition where the group will build several installations that bring to life children’s drawings that imagine machines of the future. 16 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
“BY PUSHING BOUNDARIES, WE HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE NEW IDEAS. TO WORK BETTER, TAKE BETTER CARE OF OURSELVES, OF OTHERS, AND OF THE WORLD.” The art of silence For an example of art meeting the business world, Tavin refers to artist Pilvi Takala’s performance of The Trainee. In a rare and courageous instance of a corporation embracing workplace disruption, international accounting ﬁrm Deloitte allowed Takala to pose as an employee in their Helsinki office. Then, using a series of hidden cameras, Takala recorded employees’ reactions to her unconventional working style. In the ﬁrst scene, she simply sits at an empty desk in an open office, introducing herself as “on loan” from the company’s marketing department. When questioned as to why she has no computer in front of her, or why she isn’t doing anything other than sitting silently at the desk, Takala responds that she’s doing “brain work.” In another scene she rides the same office elevator all day long, telling curious colleagues who enter and exit that she simply “thinks better” while standing in the elevator than she does sitting at a desk. At ﬁrst the performance seems strange – even silly – and the scenes are actually uncomfortable to watch. But the point starts to sink in when you see and hear people’s reactions. One colleague whose curiosity gets the better of him eventually approaches her as she sits silently at the empty desk and implores her to tell him what she’s thinking. Others say of her elevator riding
Theme that she’s “cheering up their day,” while one department even starts writing a ﬂurry of concerned emails about “a girl sitting with a glazed look on her face… whom employees think is a little scary.” Office work can easily become drudgery and monotony, leading to uninspired and unproductive workers, which in turn can negatively affect a company’s performance. This is what Takala is both highlighting and ﬁghting against. The idea is that by disturbing the ways of working that we take for granted, she stirs up energy and creates discussion that could – from an industry perspective – spur original thought to positively impact a company’s performance.
important kind of intervention. By pushing and troubling boundaries, we have the opportunity to create and develop completely new ideas that help us to work better, take better care of ourselves, of others, and of the world – so that we can all build and share in a more fulﬁlling vision of the future.”
Learning both ways
The future of education exists at the crossroads of science, technology, business, and art. The idea of it is frequently cited, but it can be diﬃcult to require or mandate. In order to bridge this gap, Aalto University introduced its University Wide Art Studies (UWAS) programme. It is a series of courses that oﬀer access to art-based thinking for every discipline through ﬁeld neutral classes on creativity and culture. UWAS courses are being built one-by-one; ﬁrst with Introduction to Visual Culture and Creative Ways of Seeing the World, and now quickly ramping up to courses including Design Theory, Audio Across Disciplines, and Crystal Flowers – a course that looks at the connections between mathematics and beauty. These classes are available as equally weighted, credited opportunities for students of all backgrounds, to engage with arts studies as part of their core coursework no matter what their major. This way Aalto can oﬀer a truly trans- or post-disciplinary graduate, someone informed and educated in how art and creative practices shape and deﬁne the world around us.
“The core idea with multidisciplinary thinking is that no single discipline – whether it be business, science or technology – should get too comfortable with its position. Art and creative thinking can be used to raise questions that wouldn’t necessarily be part of that discipline,” says Tavin. “This goes the other way too – it’s dialectic – in that art and creative practices shouldn’t get too comfortable with themselves either. We need challenges both ways, as it’s this juxtaposition of disciplines that causes a troubling of normative ways of thinking and practices. This is when you don’t just start pushing boundaries, but actually question the very notion and function of boundaries. In some ways this isn’t just multidisciplinarity, but post-disciplinarity!” Already at the leading edge of multidisciplinary academia, Aalto University is continuing to create new opportunities for students to work outside of their main area of study. Enthusiasm for this strategy runs across the entire University, says Professor Tavin. “Students see things in the world that others may not, and the tools and language they use can be an
University Wide Art Studies – something for everyone
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Design for government When talk turns to experimenting with fresh approaches, governmental policy might not be the ﬁrst thing that comes into mind. In Finland, however, encouraging an experimental culture is one of the government’s key projects. Aalto students have been in the thick of the action. Text Joanna Sinclair Photo Glen W. Forde
OCTORAL RESEARCHER Seungho Lee sees the world through the eyes of a designer. Originally from South-Korea, Lee ﬁrst came to Helsinki in 2008 to work as a design consultant. In Finland he became fascinated by the pioneering design research at Aalto University, as well as the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra’s holistic approach to design. Fairly soon, Lee started working for a Sitrapowered initiative, Helsinki Design Lab. “This is where the idea of applying design thinking to policy making really hit me,” Lee reminisces. He retells a story he often heard at Sitra: A public swimming hall had clearly become very unpopular. Customer rates were down. City officials knew the building was getting old, so they asked an architect to design them a new swimming hall. She agreed, but after a few weeks she returned and said: ‘A new swimming hall won’t solve your problem. Last year, you changed the bus schedules abruptly. Getting to the hall is now highly inconvenient for everyone using public transportation. That’s why your customers vanished’. “It’s a ﬁctitious tale that opens up the potential of design thinking for policy makers,” Lee smiles. 18 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
“We should never assume we know the cause of a problem. A holistic user’s perspective is a fruitful approach for every design.”
by extending the lifecycle of electronic products, and ﬁnding ways to advance fruit and vegetable consumption among school children.
Working directly with ministries
Proposing a new model for the Prime Minister’s Oﬃce
The course Design for Government (DfG) has been a tremendous hit ever since it started in 2013. “We developed it together with the course teachers Hella Hernberg and Juha Kronqvist. Today, the 14-week course is arranged every spring as a part of the Master’s degree in Creative Sustainability, and we have Professor Ramia Mazé as our leader. Students come from ﬁelds such as design, business, engineering and social sciences,” says Lee. “What makes DfG unique is the fact that our students work directly with ministries and relevant stakeholders to provide them with experimental research. The course has two to three different ministries as the commissioner each year.” DfG students have worked with for example the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture, looking into themes such as accessibility of buildings, reducing the use of plastic bags, preventing waste
In 2014, the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office announced a tender looking for ways to advance behavioural and experimental research to support governmental policy making. The winning proposal came from think tanks Demos Helsinki and Avanto, with Aalto’s DfG course as a partner. The project consisted of two stages: establishing a global benchmark of best practices, and an experiment arranged as a part of the DfG course in 2015, with students attempting to solve concrete challenges faced by the government. Fittingly, the project was also named Design for Government. “The DfG Project examined, among other issues, how the DfG course’s unique approach could be operationalised in the Finnish Government. This was a truly exceptional opportunity for our students to take part in potentially policy shaping research,” Lee conﬁrms. The project report proposed a new, quick-to-implement model for including
experiments and behavioural approaches into Finnish policy design: humancentric governance through experiments.
Experimental Finland One of Finland’s current government’s key projects is to ﬁnd innovative ways to develop society and services. “We are advocating an experimental culture on a national level,” explains Dr. Kaisa Lähteenmäki-Smith, Science Specialist, Prime Minister’s Office. “The DfG Project that students successfully contributed to was in a way a starting point for us to take action from the PMO level. The project provided holistic knowledge of possibilities, and ideas on how hands-on behavioural approaches could make policy more user-oriented, targeted and efficient,” Lähteenmäki-Smith affirms. “One of the key notions we understood during the project was that we must be able to offer decision makers information from grass root experiments. We have thus far focused on evidence based decision making: what works? While this remains extremely important, we also need user based decision making: what makes people tick?” Lähteenmäki-Smith mentions a student design team’s work as an example: “Finnish farmers have to
Ramia Mazé, Professor of New Frontiers in Design
_ Building a common future Ramia Mazé is the leader of the Design for Government course. As Professor of New Frontiers in Design, she pursues a programmatic vision in ‘Designing our common future’: “As a researcher, educator and designer, I specialise in critical and participatory approaches to design for systems and products that alter social practices and public life. While design is traditionally formulated in relation to industry, this work explores the expansion of design roles in society.” Prior to her professorship at Aalto, Ramia Mazé worked in Sweden at Konstfack University College and the KTH Royal Institute of Technology. She has led several interdisciplinary and international research projects and worked as a professional designer in the EU and US. Professor Mazé encourages both the potential collaboration partners and Aalto students to take part in this course: “If you are a civil servant interested in applying design to policy making or a student interested in designing for the public sector, please see our website and contact us.”
ﬁll out a great deal of forms to receive subsidies. Students tackled the issue from the farmer’s perspective and came up with ways to make the process far more user friendly and effective – and also make public officials accountable for the forms they create through feedback.” While Lähteenmäki-Smith is highly enthusiastic of the prospects of an experimental culture, she underlines that Finland is not as advanced in utilising behavioural insights in policy making as peers around the globe often presume. “When I am asked what my vision is of Finland’s experimental culture, I often jest that I hope to see us where people think we already are,” says Lähteenmäki-Smith. “But while we are not as far as some suppose, we are every bit as brave as we have been given credit for internationally. One of the ﬁrst major initiatives to be implemented is a basic income • dfg-course.aalto.ﬁ experiment.”
All students of class 2015 at Säätytalo (House of the Estates) in Helsinki. AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 19
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The life of a Hollywood cinematographer A mix of talent and luck landed cinematographer Peter Flinckenberg in Los Angeles.
Text Liisa Jokinen Photos Jussi Puikkonen
T’S SUNDAY evening and a rare moment of quiet in the life of Peter Flinckenberg. He spent his day off at a Korean spa with his sons and now it is time to catch his breath at home in Silver Lake, Los Angeles. Flinckenberg’s alarm clock will once again wake him at ﬁve the following morning, when shooting of the I’m dying up here comedy series continues for CBS Corporation’s Showtime network. The show is set in a 1970s Los Angeles stand-up club and it is scheduled for release next spring. At the same time, Flinckenberg is working on a documentary ﬁlm about 60s comedy duo Cheech & Chong. Shooting of the movie The Sound of Metal, starring Dakota Johnson, is set to begin in January. Flinckenberg has realised his dream of working in the movie Mecca of Hollywood. “Life is amazing,” he laughingly acknowledges. But how did all this come about?
From building site to law school “It was actually a bit strange,” he says in reply when asked how he wound up working in cinema. After secondary school, he was at a loss about what to do with his life. For a while, he worked construction in Moscow. The years following
the fall of the Soviet Union were an exciting time to be in Russia. Social pressure and the examples set by his mates soon drove the young man back to Finland, however. Flinckenberg studied ﬁne art for a year and then successfully applied to law school. “But reading law books in solitude was not my thing. I wanted something more.” Frustrated with the reading, he recalled an earlier experience of success. “When the Soviet Union began to open its borders, I had the opportunity to accompany my parents and a group of scientists to meet with our FinnoUgric kin-folk on the previously-closed Yamal Peninsula. I hired a camera for our second visit and a YLE news cameraman showed me how to use it.” The material Flinckenberg recorded was ﬁrst bought by the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE and then also by other European TV channels, enabling the purchase of his ﬁrst veryown video camera. It took years before he dared think about cinematography as a profession, however.
A late bloomer Flinckenberg says he has always been an observer in addition to being sensitive to mood and light since a young age. In the end, it was natural for him to try out a creative ﬁeld.
“But I was anxious about the University’s entrance exam. I decided to completely ignore what the others were doing at the exam.” His approach was successful and Flinckenberg got in. “This was a new world for me. I understood what ﬁlm-making is and how demanding it can be. I was a late bloomer. My classmates had created their own operas and ﬁlms at 14, but I was not like that.” Flinckenberg originally wanted to make documentaries, but a training programme for documentary directors did not exist at the time, so he wound up studying cinematography. He became fascinated with cinematic storytelling and the possibility of cooperating with the director, set and costume designers, lighting and sound designers as well as the other crew to create entire worlds. Flinckenberg nearly runs out of words when singing the praises of his education. “Our professor at the time, Esa Vuorinen, had knowledge and experience of the world at large. He opened the eyes of us students and taught us how to think of the bigger picture.” Getting work experience by serving as, among other things, an assistant to cinematographer Kjell Lagerroos during the shooting of the ﬁlms AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 21
Fire-Eater and Ambush was also signiﬁcant. Without Esa Vuorinen, Flinckenberg would not be in Hollywood right now.
shows are recorded in Los Angeles, whereas movie shoots often take place somewhere else. It allows me to stay closer to my family.” Everything is, of course, much bigger The American in America than it is in Finland. There’s wonderland more money, equipment, staff and time. Pirjo Honkasalo’s Concrete Night The budget for one episode of I’m Dying was a stroke of luck for Flinckenberg. Up Here is $6–8 million and it takes In September 2014, the ﬁlm, which 12 days to record it. was directed by Honkasalo and shot by Behind each production is a large and Flinckenberg, was selected to represent well-oiled machine. Finland in the long list of candidates for “Working is easy when you’re the best foreign-language movie category surrounded by so many people offering of the Oscars. It didn’t make the short assistance. Each segment is managed list, but was nevertheless noticed by with care. Assistant directors are the American Society of Cinematogincredibly capable. They can, for raphers, which nominated the ﬁlm example, instantly conjure up 20 cops for its prestigious Spotlight Award. to block off roads and then 40 classic And the movie won this prize. American cars will glide into the picture. “All of a sudden, every agent in town The cost of things is not a constant was very keen to meet with me.” concern over here and you’re encouraged In just a couple of months, Flinckento focus on doing good work instead.” berg was asked to make his ﬁrst HollyFlinckenberg has found it most wood ﬁlm. He ﬁlmed a movie directed difficult to accept the rigid hierarchies by fashion designer sisters Kate and that Hollywood’s powerful unions and Laura Mulleavy in Northern California. guilds enforce. You are not allowed to After the summer, his family leased out stray outside your own professional role. their house in Espoo and moved to Los “I have to separately apply for Angeles. permission if I want to touch a camera Flinckenberg was terriﬁed at ﬁrst. myself. Sometimes I ﬁnd it hard to keep The high cost of housing and educating myself behind the monitor!” their children in America shocked him. Shooting is intensive work and a day Union membership also costs an arm and on set is 12 hours long at minimum. a leg, but you have to have it in order to The pace is hard in Hollywood, yet work in the industry. Flinckenberg ﬁnds the mood pretty The ﬁrst year also included a difficult relaxed. phase when agreed projects got post“Although you feel like all the juice poned and cancelled. This was often is getting squeezed out of you, there’s caused by starring actors rescheduling. plenty of support, humour and good Flinckenberg had also turned down vibes. You get a lot of encouragement. It’s some other projects to make time for easier to give it a go here and failure does the movies, which were now being not equal death. Good pay also makes rescheduled. Even though he was things easier.” constantly adding to his network of contacts, there just wasn’t enough work. Light – his most important tool Switching agencies rectiﬁed this A cinematographer’s main responsibility situation, however. Agents are vital is to direct the ﬁlming team. When cooperation partners for cinematographers and he had to do a lot of learning shooting a TV show, Flinckenberg supervises several camera crews of 4–5 about this aspect as well. people as well as even larger lighting and He also had concerns about his own grip crews. professional competence. Flinckenberg usually starts his work “The idea that everyone else is better than me can get into your head. However, by reading the script the producers send I soon realised that I’m good enough and him. “This is a sacred moment. I typically that I’m liked because I’m the way that begin to envision what the end result I am.” might look like when I read the script. I’ll Hard pace but then quickly try to engage the director in good vibes discussion so that I don’t push my own Now Flinckenberg is shooting a TV show, vision too heavily.” a documentary and a ﬁlm. Flinckenberg presents his own “Getting into television was a real proposal to the director in the form lucky break. The TV side seems to be of a visual collage that can include experiencing a big boost as organisations photographs, art and paintings. like Netﬂix and Amazon move into “My most important tool is light. And content production. I also like that TV light is emotion, it’s difficult to put into
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words. I’ll often emotionally recognise that something about the lighting or the movement of the camera is off relative to the scene being narrated.” Flinckenberg has one piece of advice for ﬁlm students. “Aim high. At the end of the day, everything depends on your own desire to achieve something bigger. I’ve always felt the urge to ﬁnd out what I’m capable of. Finns should absolutely feel in no way inferior. The standard of our education and our work ethic are just so high.” Flinckenberg thinks the best aspects of Los Angeles are its art scene, multicultural nature and social life. “I enjoy the different neighbourhoods of LA, their colour and diversity. The social life is also great here and the standard of the art scene boggles the mind.” In his free time, Flinckenberg can be found shuttling his kids to soccer and music practice. He plays soccer himself as well and likes to hang out at jazz clubs. Weekends are spent visiting friends. “Thank God I didn’t get to Hollywood as a young man. It’s easy to become ungrounded here if you’re not at peace with yourself.”
_ Peter Flinckenberg graduated as a cinematographer in 2003. He lives in Los Angeles, where he shoots TV shows, movies and ads. Flinckenberg received the prestigious Spotlight award for the movie Concrete Night in 2014 and this year Variety magazine named him as one of ten cinematographers to keep an eye on right now. He has won a Jussi Award for his work on the movies Concrete Night and Pixadores. Flinckenberg also shot Selma Vilhunen’s short ﬁlm Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?, which was nominated for an Oscar in 2014. In 2015, Flinckenberg ﬁlmed Woodshock in Los Angeles. The movie starred Kirsten Dunst and it was directed by the designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, founders of the fashion label Rodarte. Shooting of the ﬁlm The Sound of Metal, which stars Matthias Schoenaerts and Dakota Johnson, is scheduled to start in spring 2017. Right now, he is working on the TV series I’m Dying Up Here for the Showtime network.
“ALTHOUGH YOU FEEL LIKE ALL THE JUICE IS GETTING SQUEEZED OUT OF YOU, THERE’S PLENTY OF SUPPORT AND ENCOURAGEMENT.” AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 23
BeoLab S by Tuomas Hämäläinen
Sound meets form in the digital age Design students collaborate with Bang & Olufsen to create LOUD: a brave vision for contemporary audio in the home. Text Andrew Flowers Photos Tuomas Hämäläinen, Ville Piippo
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REATE A NEW form of loudspeaker for playing
music digitally. Explore your own creative vision that expresses your unique relationship to architecture and the environment.” This, in a nutshell, is the purposely open design brief given to Masters’ students in Collaborative and Industrial Design Programme for a project undertaken together with premium Danish audio-visual brand Bang & Olufsen. “The aim of this form exploration project was to get students to ﬁnd new solutions for digital music in the home environment, while also gaining a deeper understanding of contemporary design and aesthetics that can withstand the test of time,” says lecturer and industrial designer Simo Puintila, who led the course. “Each of the 12 students – who came from Canada, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Korea, Portugal and Russia – brought a very different relationship to the world. So the diversity of the end designs is incredible.”
Finnish form meets Danish sound For the project Puintila wanted to ﬁnd a partner who would give the students as much freedom as possible, so they could truly explore their creativity. “Design has become very much related to processes, systemic thinking and teamwork,” says Puintila. “While this is good – because students need to be prepared to make a living – for this course I wanted us to work with a company where traditional notions of the designer as an artist could also be explored. I wanted the students to be able to focus almost purely on form giving and artistic expression.” It was with this in mind that Puintila approached Bang & Olufsen’s design lead, Christian Thams, with a proposal for the joint project. Thams fell in love with the idea immediately. “When Simo contacted me and proposed the LOUD project I was very intrigued,” says Thams. “What would happen if we unleashed 12 students from all over the world to give their interpretations of what beautiful sound is in the modern home? What would their focus be? What do they ﬁnd relevant?”
Reﬂect by Yu-Shan Huang
BeoSound Cuisine by Leo Josephy
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Model n°0 by Joska Heikkilä BeoSound Inspire by Gyöngyi Fekete
BeoSound 50 by Henry Daly
Belong by Anastasia Ivanova
Diverse deﬁnitions of luxury The course was divided into two seven-week modules, the ﬁrst of which the students spent collecting information and submitting ideas. During the second module they built the physical prototypes using components and materials provided by Bang & Olufsen. “I was trying to get the students to do something a bit different for Bang & Olufsen,” says Puintila. “Traditionally, the company has used a lot of oak, rosewood, aluminum and glass; prestigious materials that match the premium nature of the brand. But we were interested in redeﬁning what luxury aesthetics could be. You don’t necessarily need to use prestigious materials; it’s also about you treat the materials and the context in which they’re used.” The end result is a striking diversity of designs that range from small, free standing units to tall, wall-mounted products. While the original brief had only required the creation of physical mockups with no working sound, many of the students went above and beyond to add working Bluetooth audio connections too. “At least once in your career as a designer you need to be able to work on something like LOUD,” says Puintila. “To freely express your artistic vision, and to experience how much of the form giving process happens while you’re actually working on the material. It’s incredibly rewarding, and I’m extremely proud of how the students rose to the challenge. This is really beautiful work.”
Sten speaker unit by Mikko Akkola
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• Master’s Programme in Collaborative and Industrial Design focuses on design innovation. It’s about in-depth understanding of design’s role in society and the emerging ﬁelds where design activities can protect the environment and enhance the quality of people’s lives. • The programme teaches the empathic, critical, strategic and technological skills needed in design innovation processes, and encourages students to explore diﬀerent roles within the ﬁeld of design. • aaltoloud.tumblr.com
Sustainable growth from win-win cooperation FINNISH LIVING STANDARDS have
continued emergence of breakthrough innovations. Closer collaboration between business and academia is also needed to allow ﬁrms to beneﬁt from university connections and to provide access to research labs, knowledge and talent. In this respect, government cuts to the funding of universities and research institutions may prove short-sighted and detrimental to long-term economic growth. Cuts are likely to have a negative impact also on potential research collaboration between universities and ﬁrms as well as the creation of innovative ecosystems with multidisciplinary R&D. Examples from many countries show that one of the best ways to achieve sustainable growth is tight-knit, longterm cooperation between universities and companies. This creates win-winsituations that boost revenue, employment and academic progress – all the while advancing living standards and welfare. At the Otaniemi campus, Aalto University has created a dynamic innovation ecosystem that draws researchers, students and ﬁrms to collaborate. Aalto’s ecosystem is substantial – it creates 70–100 new companies every year that generate new business models and industries, export revenues and a lot of jobs. Canatu is an inspiring spin-off example. The ﬁrm uses carbon nanotubes to make transparent conductive ﬁlms for ﬂat, ﬂexible or formable touch devices. It recently signed a deal with Faurecia which may lead to its products being installed in millions of vehicles. Innovation ecosystems also promote
research synergies and strategic collaborations between Aalto University Schools. CHEMARTS is an outstanding example of this. It encourages students and researchers to explore biomaterials and create new concepts for the future use of wood-based materials like cellulose. Sustainable growth requires a steady ﬂow of investments into education, research and ventures supporting continuous innovation. The IMF has urged Finnish policy-makers to boost public R&D spending to revive our economic growth. In light of Aalto’s achievements, it is reasonable to expect sufficient funding also for the continued development of the University and the Otaniemi campus innovation ecosystem. Growth emerges when sufficient resources meet will, determination and versatile talent. Global demand for multidisciplinary competence to match the needs of the digital world is soaring and we have only begun to grasp the huge value that design thinking can create for business and society. Aalto University is well-poised to turn these new opportunities to the seeds of growth in Finland.
_ Anne Brunila The writer is Chair of the Aalto University Board, PhD (Economics), and Professor of Practice at Hanken School of Economics.
increased 12-fold over the last century and labour productivity 14-fold. Thanks to higher productivity, Finland is now one of the world’s richest countries. To continue this favourable development we need to focus on factors that increase productivity as it is the ultimate engine of growth and the main driver of future prosperity. Like elsewhere, productivity growth in Finland has slowed substantially from the mid-90s. A recent OECD study shows that the main reason for this has been the slowing pace at which innovations spread across the economy. Speciﬁcally, the gap between high-productivity ﬁrms and the rest has grown during the past decade. Productivity entails working smarter thanks to new ideas, technological innovation and new organisation and business models. It reﬂects an ability to produce more output with less inputs. The widening gap between highand low-productivity ﬁrms makes it necessary to enhance the ability of all companies, and the public sector, to adopt productivity-boosting innovations and new technologies. The OECD study indicates that the diffusion of productivity depends on global connections, experimentation by ﬁrms with new ideas and technologies, the efficient allocation of scarce resources as well as synergic investments in R&D, skills and organisational knowhow, managerial capital in particular. Hence, the OECD recommends signiﬁcant increases to public investment in basic research, R&D and experimentation to support the
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Virtual reality Naysayers will naturally disagree, but virtual reality enthusiasts believe we are at a cusp: these may well be the last months or years in our lives when VR is not a ﬁxed part of our everyday reality – and entertainment. Text Joanna Sinclair Illustration Annukka Mäkijärvi
T AALTO UNIVERSITY, VR is being explored in
numerous settings, and aﬁcionados can be found in nearly everywhere. Researchers and students are keenly exploring, for example, virtual auditory environments, VR instruments, VR conference solutions, intelligent open data 3D maps, and 360° VR short ﬁlms. Professor of Film and Television Producing, Aleksi Bardy plans on bringing VR enthusiasts closer together at the new Media Centre – one of the University’s spearhead initiatives. Bardy is Academic Head of the Centre, which was born in 2016. “We have a sundry of VR ventures ongoing all around the University. Teaching, research, and artistic projects,” says Bardy. “As VR is not an established ﬁeld, projects are currently quite scattered.” The Media Centre is in the midst of exciting times, with large-scale renewal ongoing in both its strategy and facilities. The centre has many ambitious aspirations, including an aim to support all of the various VR projects at Aalto, and also to bring VR project teams closer to each other.
allow prospective buyers to walk around a house before it is built; and in product design, VR prototyping can already save companies considerable time and resources. Bardy predicts that in games especially, the sky is the limit: VR enables an immersive, interactive experience where outside stimuli are cut off. This may mean 360° vision, smells, the sensation of touching something virtually – probably all of these and more. For Aalto University, VR entails a great deal of trial, error and discovery. After all, you cannot teach what is not yet known, but you can learn and create together. “In emerging new ﬁelds or technological breakthroughs like VR, teaching is about teachers and students genuinely exploring and discovering new things together. Part of what we believe in today will be in the trash bin tomorrow – and this is a good thing,” Bardy states.
Sound, colour, 3D, VR
VR aﬁcionados have high hopes in Bardy’s own area of expertise: ﬁlm and television. VR promises to allow storytellers to fully immerse the viewer in the story’s Trial, error and discovery world. Perhaps it won’t be long before we will all be Today, VR mostly refers to goggles or virtual reality able to virtually wander around the set of our favourite phone cases that turn your phone into a VR headset, TV shows or stand right beside the protagonists in and you are more likely to run into VR at a science fair a blockbuster movie with a 360° view of the scene. than at a movie theatre. Yet when it comes to virtual Although otherwise enthusiastic about VR’s many reality, there is no status quo. New ideas are emerging possibilities, when it comes to his own ﬁeld of work, at record pace. Bardy thinks that the winning concept has not been Bardy estimates that consumer-friendly VR found yet. applications will probably be found very soon for games, “I believe that in the future, VR movies will offer us infotainment, virtual travel and exploring different more immersive experiences than traditional movies, kinds of spaces. perhaps something between movies and theatre “I believe that in these ﬁelds, VR holds a great deal performances. This said, no matter where technology of promise to be a genuine game changer. All of these takes us, people will nonetheless also consume silent, examples have promising applications today,” Bardy black and white, or colour 2D movies as well,” Bardy points out. emphasizes. Currently, the most advanced VR applications in “VR is still at its early prototype phase in our ﬁeld. existence are ones created for games, sales and product What it will amount to in the ﬁlm and television design. In industries like new construction, VR can industry remains an open question. It is very likely 30 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
that VR will establish a position in ﬁlm and television as an effect – just like sound, colour or 3D,” Bardy assesses. He reminds that interactive storytelling has been possible for a long time, but audiences have not wanted it. “The storyteller’s dictatorship has driven narratives since the beginning of time, and cinematography is a direct descendant of the amphitheatre. No technology so far has ruptured this setting and I doubt VR will. Experiencing stories is based on surrendering yourself to a well plotted tale, it is regression!”
VR can shut out the world A good example of recent activity at Bardy’s own academic home, the Department of Film, Television and Scenography, is the VR workshop arranged in August 2016 by Euphoria Borealis in cooperation with Tanja Bastamow, Synes Elischka and Victor Pardinho from Aalto. The workshop offered participants a hands-on experience during which they developed, wrote, shot and edited 360° VR short ﬁlms that were shown at a public screening as a part of the Love & Anarchy ﬁlm festival in Helsinki. “We are seeing a great deal of interesting experimenting,” Bardy smiles. “As of now, the majority of our students are not active in VR. Then again, the ones who are – they are not asking questions, they are busy doing.” “I estimate that in ﬁlm and TV, the greatest way VR will change our lives is by offering us the possibility to expand a fully immersive experience outside the traditional movie theatre. VR will give us possibilities to completely shut out the outside world. Will this lead to isolation – or an opportunity for us all to take nice little breathers away from this chaotic world? Time will tell.”
_ Professor Aleksi Bardy is a television writer, screenwriter and ﬁlm producer, well-known for scripting movies such as Restless (2000) and Heart of a Lion (2013). Bardy was appointed Professor of Practice, Film and TV Producing, in 2013. He is responsible for teaching ﬁlm and television production as a major on the MA level. Bardy leads a research team called Menestys (Success) and he is also the Academic Head of Aalto’s new Media Centre, where he works together with Marcus Korhonen as the Operational Leader. Alongside his academic work, Bardy remains active at the production company Helsinki-ﬁlmi, most often in the role of Executive Producer, but from time to time also as a scriptwriter. Helsinki-ﬁlmi’s largest endeavour at the moment is the Tom of Finland movie, which will premiere in February 2017.
Aalto Media Centre brings together media-related actors from inside and outside Aalto University. It enables advanced artistic and technical productions by oﬀering production services and research in media; for example in virtual reality, television, games, acoustics, stage art – and combinations of these.
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A space for collaboration The A:Space is an open home for Aalto students, the community-at-large, businesses, and partners from across the globe. Text David Lewis Photos Eeva Suorlahti
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Guests visiting A:Space can see popup galleries of new materials and hear lectures from visiting artists and educators. The multifunctional second ďŹ‚oor space operates as a laid-back meeting room for critiques and brainstorming sessions. An additional building located next door, has more hands-on facilities for prototyping and fabricating new ideas with industry partners and companies.
A:Space is located in the old shopping centre designed by architect Alvar Aalto in the 1960s.
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AID OUT in Alvar Aalto’s historic shopping centre, the multi-function concept spans two buildings and is outﬁtted with handson workshop with state of the art equipment and facilities including a sublimation printing station, ﬂatbed knitting machines, pop-up offices, exhibition spaces, a lecture stage, a coffee shop and, of course, good company. A:Space was envisioned by the students from the Department of Design. Its idea is to “speed up” the department’s move to the Otaniemi campus, while waiting for the Väre building to be completed, break down boundaries and encourage collaboration. For companies looking to work and experiment with design and technology, the A:Space offers access to engage with students and get their perspectives on innovations, or the next big idea. Visitors and students can take part in games like PowerPoint Karaoke, meet up for advice sessions with entrepreneurs, participate in design-lead workshops or any number of visiting lectures. The space is overseen by a rotating genie who looks to ensure that the programming is current and interesting. In short, A:Space is a platform for the future; a user-deﬁned fusion of functional design, colour and material experimentation, technology, community and entrepreneurship.
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The layout of A:Space is set to rotate regularly around different themes or seasons with new works, curators, and courses happening throughout the year. Visitors can expect to ﬁnd new exhibits frequently, but the backdrop is always vibrant; the room is full of colour and light – fuelled by Brooklyn Bakeries’ fresh coffee, sweets, and food.
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Fashion forward Lecturer Tuomas Laitinen is a highly respected fashion expert. His status stems from a profound understanding of the needs of current fashion industry as well as the ability to guide students to ﬁnd their place in its ﬁelds. Text Elina Peltonen Photo Chris Vidal
HIS YEAR, London’s top fashion
magazines covered only two student fashion shows, with one being that of Aalto University. At Hyères, the most highly regarded fashion competition in Europe, Aalto students have gained three Grand Prix wins and numerous ﬁnalist positions since 2011. The latest acknowledgement came in the form of a university ranking in which Aalto’s BA fashion programme was listed among the top three in the world. This goes to demonstrate, how lucky Aalto is to have Tuomas Laitinen. To his own surprise, four years after ﬁnishing his BA studies in fashion design, Laitinen returned to his alma mater in 2005. The years elsewhere had been an eventful time for him, to say the least: Laitinen had completed an MA at Central Saint Martins in London (CMS), the best fashion school in the world, and gained valuable working experience from the industry both in Paris and London. 36 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
During this period, he had not only witnessed a different way of teaching, but a fundamental change in the industry as well. On commencing his work as a teacher, he knew things demanded urgent reform. “The whole structure of education was designed to serve the fashion industry in Finland: an industry we had in the 1980s and, to some extent, up to the 1990s. However, the problem was that it was not relevant any more. That industry no longer existed here and it had changed so much outside of Finland, too.”
Culture of openness Changes were plentiful, but required years of persistence to implement. “Professor Pirjo Hirvonen and I started to replace small design courses with more comprehensive projects and also to emphasise the meaning of ﬁnding one’s own identity and creating one’s own world through visual research.
Also, getting closer with textile and encouraging people to make their own materials. We have all these amazing facilities with which we do almost haute couture level materials.” At CSM, under the renowned professor Louise Wilson, Laitinen had witnessed how one could demand a lot more from students, and consequently get much more out of them. Therefore, his most transformational impact of all was likely the fostering of a new study culture based on open communication. Initially, Laitinen’s directness came as a shock to some, but proved elemental in teaching students to tap into their full potential as designers which transferred to their collections. Now, students cannot wait for the opportunity to work with him. “People were not used to receiving criticism or talking about their work and bringing it into the broader context of what’s happening elsewhere. It took a
long time to create a culture of openness, where we can discuss anything. Creating an experimental atmosphere where we encourage people to make mistakes was another goal because it really is the only way to learn.”
showing clothes in an industry way to industry people. That is also why the show is long. And the headhunters are there to see the clothes. The fashion show requires an insane amount of work, work that is both at a very high level artistically and product-wise.”
Show craze Tuomas Laitinen stresses the importance of working in the ﬁeld you teach, while you teach, as an utter necessity. “The relevance of people changes, as does that of phenomena, and you have to be there to know and feel it.” Laitinen has willingly put his extensive and relevant networks at the service of his students. His contacts have been indispensable, especially in relation to the fashion show arranged each spring by the University. This show has become the key element in Aalto’s continuously growing reputation as a fashion school. “The biggest change happened in 2012 when we held the ﬁrst show in the Suvilahti cultural centre in Helsinki. That same year, Helsinki was the World Design Capital and our student Satu Maaranen won the Grand Prix at Hyères. There was all the attention because of that and we had 20 foreign guests. That was a watershed, now it’s madness! Last year, we hosted iD, Dazed, Italian Vogue, Chinese Vogue, Japanese Vogue as well as headhunters from LVMH and Kering. Sometimes I wonder if the students think it’s normal to have Michel Gaubert in the front row or to have your graduate collection styled by the same person who styles Balenciaga!” In addition to the show being a formidable marketing tool for the University, it is also essential in promoting the students and their work. “The show is not for someone choosing a coat to wear that summer, it is about
Fashions’ future Tuomas Laitinen ﬁnds the persistence of the idea of fashion as a frivolous industry frustrating. “People still refuse to understand the sheer turnover or money that fashion brings and the jobs it creates. It’s one of the biggest industries in the world. They also don’t understand high fashion and often think what we do is too artistic or too individual, but it does actually serve the industry. We also work with many mass market companies like H&M who want the same students Balenciaga or Lanvin want because they are after the same kind of creativity.” Laitinen’s mission as a teacher is solid and straight-forward. “I think that, if you work in education, you should have one prime responsibility: educating people so they have a chance to ﬁnd employment, live full lives and be a part of society.” However, as many of the best students are hired to work abroad in fashion capitals like Paris, London, Milan and New York straight after graduation, concerns are voiced about local talent dispersing. “What we can do is provide Finnish people with very wide knowledge, skills and creativity that can be sold to foreign clients and which have the potential of becoming big business.” The successes of recent years are, to Laitinen, a logical result of the wholehearted effort put into developing
the fashion education programme. “Of course it feels nice because it’s been a lot of work for everybody! I’m not the only one here, there’s a whole team of tutors and professors, and the people who work in the studios must not be forgotten either. Our huge, decade-long team effort is now ﬁnally bearing fruit.” Tuomas Laitinen wants us to know that now is not the time to get comfortable nor to ﬁx what is not broken. “This really is the beginning of things, not the end. We are doing something right, but that should be developed much further and the freedom to do so should not be compromised.”
_ Tuomas Laitinen completed his BA degree at the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 2001 and graduated with a distinction from the MA fashion course at Central Saint Martins in London, 2004. In 2006, with his sister Anna, he won the special mention of the Jury Prize at the Hyéres Festival. The prize was strongly supported by the competition’s head of the jury Ann Demeulemeester and it enabled the Laitinens to launch their collection Laitinen in 2007. For seven continuous years Laitinen was stocked at leading retailers across Europe, Asia and US. Laitinen Autumn-Winter 2014 collection was also featured in the Hunger Games Mockingjay Part I and II Hollywood ﬁlms. Currently Laitinen is the Fashion Director of SSAW Magazine and works as a consultant for various industry clients and contributes to international publications including Harper’s Bazaar China and L’Oﬃciel Hommes Paris. He has been a lecturer in fashion design at Aalto University since 2006.
Ones to watch:
1. “Elli Savolainen, graduated with a BA in 2001, currently Design Director of Saint Laurent menswear in Paris. Long career behind the scenes both at Christian Dior and Saint Laurent, probably the Finn with the biggest chances of becoming a Creative Director of a major international fashion house.”
2. “Kaisa Inari Kinnunen, graduated with an MA in 2011. Currently works for Balenciaga in Paris under the Creative Director Demna Gvasalia as a research designer, which is an important member of any creative team and an unknown position to many unaware of the fashion system.”
3. “Sophie Sälekari, graduated with a BA in 2015, print designer at Alexander McQueen in London and ﬁnalist at Hyéres Festival 2015. Sophie’s opulent style is very much what is wanted in fashion right now. Previous work experience at H&M shows that the opposite ends of the fashion ladder are often after the same talent.”
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Fresh perspectives The multidisciplinary WiTLAB network connects research, education and grassroots action to build a more sustainable future. Text Tim Bird Photos Anne Kinnunen, Reko Laurilehto
CREATIVITY SHOULD not be thought of as a characteristic only possessed by people who work in ﬁelds classiﬁed as creative,” says Saija Hollmén, Vice Dean of the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. “Work in sciences and coming up with new connections and combinations requires trust in one’s intuition as well as creative problem-solving skills and our University is a giant resource of this type of people, regardless of their ﬁeld.” A good example of this approach is provided by the Aalto WiT (World in Transition) LAB, a network bringing together a range of researchers, stakeholders and projects that embraces resilient communities, human settlements, humanitarian architecture, environmental awareness, pre-disaster planning, reconstruction, sustainable technologies, community engagement and grassroots action. Hollmén is keen to build on this framework. Her own background as an architect as well as president and cofounder of an NGO called Ukumbi has given her a heightened awareness of how the University can collaborate with foundations and NGOs in their cultural sustainability activities.
Well prepared students “I see architecture as a powerful tool for modifying contemporary societies,” says Hollmén.
She points out that the variety of courses available at Aalto means the University can send its students to projects in other countries with a very strong information package. Travel broadens the mind and it can also provide a fresh perspective, she believes. “We ﬁnd that, as we cooperate with partner universities, in Africa or Asia, for example, our students are sometimes more aware of issues than the local students might be. It’s a general phenomenon that, if you live very close to something, you might not see things as clearly as if you come from outside.” Especially in the context of architecture, it’s important to consider how people use space, which is by no means the same from place to place. “You need to use your background to gain an understanding of the culture from a spatial point of view. You need to understand other people, not teach them how to live,” says Hollmén. “But the most important thing is that we learn lessons and that our students start by understanding the essentials of other cultures. Regardless of their discipline, we want students to understand how their collaboration can be of use to solving problems that right now we can’t even imagine. At the end of the day it’s always a local approach that needs to be taken.”
Opening doors In terms of opportunities for students, WiT LAB opens doors to various courses rooted in different departments as part of the Creative Sustainability Master’s Programme. One of these is the Cities in Transition Studio, an arts-based course that focuses on the local context in development, architecture and local planning. In the engineering sphere, the Sustainable Global Technologies programme consists of cross-disciplinary courses that examine how sustainability and technology are connected. A student visit to the Greek island of Lesvos to ﬁnd solutions to the environmental challenges posed by thousands of arriving migrants fell within this sphere, as did a workshop visit to a Mexican community by Aalto LAB Mexico. The course How to Change the World – Innovating toward Sustainability is an example of what’s available under the business umbrella. It examines inclusive business models in low-income emerging markets. WiT LAB also serves as a platform for research, and Hollmén points at Matti Kuittinen’s doctoral dissertation Carbon footprinting in humanitarian construction as one result. “We want to connect research, education and grassroots action. In order to achieve something worthwhile, you need to do background work and research, and to do valuable research you need to do the practical things ﬁrst. Societal impact is a crucial part of a triangle completed by education and research. I don’t see how any one of those can exist without the others,” Hollmén concludes.
The Kigali Master Class 2014 took students to Rwanda in Africa to work with local communities. 38 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
Shaking up our ideas on energy Harvard Professor Kiel Moe thinks focusing on energyefficiency does little beneﬁt to nature or architecture. BOOMING NOISE rattles Alvarin aukio,
the square which lies amidst the many construction sites of the Otaniemi campus, but an unperturbed Kiel Moe stands on a pile of maple leaves talking about wood, his absolute favourite material, with enthusiasm. “No matter what way you look at it, wood is the best,” the Harvard Associate Professor of Architecture & Energy says with a laugh. “When we harvest a crop of trees, we’re also collecting carbon for storage and creating opportunities for new carbon-storing trees to grow. This makes wood superior to other materials. Of course, other materials are ﬁne as well, as long as the building is made to last for generations.” Lifespan thinking is a key consideration in the work of Moe, who is visiting Aalto as a Fulbright Distinguished Professor. Materials and construction account for 80% of a building’s energy impact, which is why designing them to be durable or lengthening their useful
life through renovations is much more signiﬁcant to the environment than adding a few layers of insulation. “Engineers and architects usually consider issues like heating when they think about energy. I, on the other hand, think about all the energy that ﬂows through buildings.”
Power design Moe calls his way of thinking maximum power design. It starts with the idea that 98% of the Earth’s energy comes from the Sun and all material, be it paper, brick or concrete, is really solar energy that has been transformed into something solid. “Maximum power design intakes as much of this energy as possible, transforms it wisely and also feeds it back to the environment – an aspect, which is often completely forgotten in design. This dieback might be recycled materials, by-products for fuel, information about better ways to build, or durable structures for future
Text Minna Hölttä Photo Maija Astikainen
generations. So I would like to move beyond the hegemonic doctrine of energy-efficiency, which is built on a shaky scientiﬁc foundation, as energy is always transferred with 100% efficiency. Fixating on energy-efficiency does not serve architecture or our world in the best possible way.” Kiel Moe will dedicate his six-month visit to travelling in pursuit of ﬁne architecture and ﬁnalising his book manuscripts as well as to the Department of Architecture’s Wood Program and its students. He would like to see wooden surfaces erected alongside the red-brick structures and concrete, glass-walled new buildings of the Otaniemi campus. “Large-scale wood construction would suit student housing well. Wood could also be used to make interesting extensions to existing buildings. Naturally, my own designs utilise wood, and I usually also build them with my own hands.”
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Take a look at an interesting study project.
Carefully constructed Architecture students build a modular housing solution that addresses temporary needs for migrants. Text Andrew Flowers Photos Marc Goodwin, Tuomas Uusheimo, Juho Haavisto, Anne Kinnunen
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“EVERY FALL there’s a mini housing crisis
in Helsinki,” says architecture lecturer Philip Tidwell. “Families often move after the summer and students return to the city, so there’s always a temporary shortage of ﬂats here. And this year the situation was compounded by the need to provide additional shelter for an inﬂux of migrants.” Tidwell is describing the background to Kokoon, a modular and transportable housing solution designed by students from Aalto University’s Wood Program. The self-contained 11 m2 wooden units can be combined in various horizontal and vertical conﬁgurations, making the Kokoon concept ideal for meeting temporary housing needs.
From border to home In previous years the students of the Wood Program have built pavilions, saunas and a zero-energy home – each of which was linked to a particular location, function or social need at the time. This year the project coincided with the From Border to Home competition organised by The Museum of Finnish Architecture, which aimed at ﬁnding new ideas for accommodating migrants. So the stage was set for Kokoon. The project began in the autumn semester with each of the 18 students submitting a proposal for the design,
from which one was chosen by the instructors. The students then broke out into groups to study various aspects of the building – façade, interior, lighting, design plan, etc. – to leave no stone unturned. “We place great emphasis on prototyping,” says Tidwell. “When you’re dealing with such tight dimensions you need to know all the interdependencies. So everything needs to be scrutinised from every possible angle.”
Energy-eﬃcient design The inside walls of the Kokoon buildings are made from laminated veneer lumber (LVL), a form of plywood called Kerto in Finland. The outside walls are made from spruce that the students chose to paint rust red in a nod to traditional Scandinavian wood architecture. For insulation, recycled newspaper is blown into the gap between the inside and outside panels of the walls. The units are powered simply by plugging them into an electricity source, and are lit through LEDs carefully integrated into the walls and furnishings of the houses. Heating – which is low energy thank to the compact nature of the units – takes place via an underﬂoor element. Waste water from the kitchen and shower drains into a tank, while toilet waste is frozen to be collected later.
Big ideas, open minds “People often ask me what I like most about teaching, and I always refer to this way of working where we deliberately bite off more than we can chew,” says Tidwell. “We consciously choose a project in which we aren’t completely clear what the end result will be, and each year the students rise to the occasion. Probably this is partly because we have such a diverse set of skills in the Program. Most students have an architectural background, but many also come with other experience in design or engineering. They just need to be able to draw and come with an open mind – curiosity is what’s most important.”
The Wood Program oﬀered by the Department of Architecture is a one-year intensive course focusing on wood and wooden architecture. The Program explores the ecological, technical and architectural properties of wood through an all-round view of the chain of wood construction. Each year, it begins with the tree in the forest and ends with the construction of an experimental wooden building. woodprogram.ﬁ AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 41
Text Tim Bird Photos LIFT Project
Leaving legacy in Lesvos When confronted with the challenges faced by the migrant crisis on the Greek island of Lesvos, students learned valuable lessons – and devised practical up-cycling solution. IN HAPPIER times the Greek islands might bring to mind whitewashed houses set against skies of pure blue and swimming in clear, warm water. But when four students set off to Lesvos in March 2016, they had no time to relax on the beach. In any case, the beaches were covered with a carpet of orange life-jackets, the debris left by the tens of thousands of migrants, mainly from Syria, making the short but perilous crossing in ﬂimsy dinghies from Turkey. The students – Faisal Al Barazi, a Syrian national, Oona Anttila, the group’s only Finn, Melanie Wolowiec from Germany and Canadian Eve Żórawska – arrived with a brief from their mentor Kristjana Adalgeirsdottir, Architect and Project Researcher in the Department of Architecture, is to work on solutions to alleviate the crisis. Drawing on their cross-disciplinary interests in sustainability, embracing architecture, planning, business and urban transitions, the team created The LIFT Project to focus on how they could offer solutions to the crisis. The name expressed the three main aims of the project: to physically lift the life jackets from where they lay and clean away the debris from the beaches; to come up with recycling ideas to lift the discarded jackets into new applications; and to lift the attitude towards the migrant crisis across Europe to a more sympathetic level.
Raising awareness “On our ﬁrst day we were superconﬁdent, but when we got there we 42 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 16 18
began to see the real complexity of the situation,” says Oona Anttila. The team coordinated their visit with the Lighthouse Relief NGO and a number of local volunteer coalitions working to recycle the mountains of life jackets piling up on the beaches. “It was a huge problem to know what to do with the jackets,” says Eve Żórawska. “In a way it was a metaphor for the whole crisis and the attitude of Europe. My main concern was that we should not be too naïve and expect to solve all the problems.” “We had to focus more on certain ideas because we started on such a broad scale,” says Melanie Wolowiec. Eight months later, the media attention focused on Lesvos and the other Greek islands and the immigration crisis had moved on, although migrants continue to perish in the Mediterranean. But the team believe the project has left a worthwhile legacy. “We learned enormously about the complexity of a humanitarian crisis, how deep the roots go in politics and the whole system of countries involved. I think one of the main lessons was related to problem-solving skills. You begin to realise that you can focus on a smaller thing that will contribute to the whole,” says Oona Anttila.
Focus on environment From the beginning the group decided to focus on the environment. They noticed that there was a lack of seating in the migrant camp, so they looked at
ways of up-cycling lifejackets to provide seating. “We combined the environmental and humanitarian needs to come up with a solution that would help both the people in camps and the beautiful nature of Lesvos,” explains Anttila. “We were especially inspired by how people notice a problem and come up with solutions with limited available resources – and by how many genuine, sincere and kind people we met!” On their return to Finland the team engaged in intense brainstorming and discussions, especially in relation to up-cycling. “We developed the idea of a DIY seat made from life jackets and made our ﬁrst sketches,” says Anttila. “We didn’t know much about fabrics, so we started experimenting. We also got help from the textile studio at the University in how to handle the material, which was essential for the success of our ﬁrst prototype.” The team were very satisﬁed with the end results, she says. “We started off with a general brief, ‘Migrant crisis in Europe, destination Lesvos’, and built on that. We had the freedom and the responsibility to make whatever we thought was important. It was deﬁnitely hard at some points but we had a strong team and it ended up being a lot more than just a school project. We have sent the DIY instructions for the seat to our NGO partners. They can use them for up-cycling the waste and utilise the seats in the camps. We hope the solution will be useful.”
Summer in the city Designers bring a hint of Finnish summer cottage living to Paris. Text Tiiu Pohjolainen
A RUSTIC FINNISH cottage, clear and
bright. It breathes the tranquillity of a summer night just prior to sunrise. The air is fresh, it is peaceful. Six cottages will open their doors to bed and breakfast guests in the fast-paced 5th arrondissement of Paris in January. The beds are covered with linen, while bright-light boxes mimic the unique summer light of the far north within the wooden interiors and a breakfast consisting of pure Finnish ﬂavours is set outside on a community table. Visitors go to bed in Paris, but the idea is to experience a summer night in Finland. This cottage accommodation is available for booking via Airbnb, and up to 12 people can spend a night there from January to May. Beds are in private cottages, while the dining and sanitation facilities are shared with other guests. The village is situated in the exhibition space of the Finnish Institute in France.
Bare essentials only
The minimalist cottages are very reminiscent of Finnish summer cottage living being equipped with only the bare essentials. The installation’s
tableware was designed by Nathalie Lahdenmäki, while the furniture is the work of designers Laura Mattila and Mikko Merz for Nikari. Overall responsibility rests with lead designer Linda Bergroth. Bergroth wanted to keep the team relatively small and invited Aalto students Salla Luhtasela and Wesley Walters in the KOTI project. Bergroth had seen Piippu, a coffee and tea pot designed by Walters and Luhtasela, and wanted it for the community space. Luhtasela and Walters also designed a hand mirror and a candle holder for KOTI. The wooden mirror is part of the accommodation space, while the candle holder can be found on the community table alongside their coffee pot.
preferred to stay in Finland, apart from an exchange period at London’s Central Saint Martins. The pair were brought together by a ceramics course. At ﬁrst, they commented a lot on one another’s work and soon furniture design student Wesley found himself making wooden parts for ceramics student Salla, and vice versa. Their form language is deliberately sparse and glimpses of both Nordic and Japanese aesthetics can be identiﬁed in it. The minimality of the KOTI project is also what they ﬁnd intriguing. ”It was a good ﬁt for us because we tend to be pretty minimal in our designs,” the duo says. The furnishings of a typical Finnish summer cottage are fairly bare and clutter-free, and now the task was to Dynamic design duo design only a very few, hand-picked “We are both very production-oriented items for a space that was going to be designers,” says Wesley Walters. minimalist by necessity. The California-born design student “Nature is a central source of wound up in Finland via a long and inspiration for me,” describes Salla winding road. Luhtasela. “I’ve studied in New York and Japan, Wesley Walters, on the other hand, where I heard about Finnish design and is fascinated by machinery, structures, eventually came here to study.” By contrast, Salla Luhtasela has always metal parts and utilitarian products, things that exist solely for function.
The many meanings of home The installation and the products will continue their journey from Paris to Finland. The cottages will be on display in Helsinki next autumn. KOTI is a part of the Finnish cultural institutes’ joint Mobile Home 2017 project spanning Paris, the Benelux countries, Berlin and London. Through this project, the institutes are exploring the meaning of homes in major cities. Mobile Home 2017 is a part of the Finland 100 Programme. kotisleepover.com studiokaksikko.com
“We often make ceramic mock-ups for our designs,” Wesley Walters and Salla Luhtasela describe their methods. AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 43
In-house This section gives you a picture of what’s happening at Aalto University.
Such great heights Text Eeva Lehtinen Photo Kalle Kataila
A central block of Aalto’s new campus is dominated by a 43 000-square-metre building site and the helmeted professionals, massive construction machines and sky-scraping cranes that inhabit it. The tallest building there is Väre. It is due for completion in summer 2018 and will be used by the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Next to Väre is a site for the School of Business, which will be completed in 2019. The wishes of students and staﬀ have been listened to and both groups have participated in the design of the new facilities. All of the core functions of Aalto University will be relocated to the Otaniemi campus by 2021. A single shared campus will promote multidisciplinary cooperation and support the birth of fresh innovations. The new buildings will form a meeting point for the University’s students, staﬀ and alumni as well as our partners and area residents. The same block will also include the Metro Centre, which is due for completion in 2018. It will house shops, cafés and other services as well as a metro station that will handle some 12 000 passengers per day once metro services commence. The buildings will form a signiﬁcant part of the new centre of Otaniemi that will sit well with the architecture of Alvar Aalto and the other famous designers of the area’s older buildings. • Architectural design: Verstas Architects • Builder: SRV
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Doctoral theses Edited by Marjukka Puolakka
Waste prevention in industry Raimo Lilja’s, Lic.Sc. (Tech.), thesis sets out to identify and assess the applicability of selected policy instruments for promoting waste prevention in industry – with a speciﬁc focus on Finland. The thesis argues that material efficiency (MEf ) is more pragmatic than waste prevention in the search for practical actions to minimize the quantity and hazardousness of industrial waste. Regulatory instruments with a co-governance approach, namely thematic MEf agreements, were compared. Material efficiency gains are best achieved using a life-cycle or a value chain perspective. The case studies present alternative ways of framing MEf in Finnish waste, resource and industrial policy. It is proposed that waste prevention should be distanced from waste management policy. The results have already been applied in producing a manual for environmental authorities to use in regulating waste prevention or material efficiency in environmental permits. The results are also applicable in industrial waste prevention audits and in planning interventions based on voluntary agreements with industry. Raimo Lilja 5.8.2016: Promoting waste prevention in industry – search for policy instruments. School of Chemical Technology.
Increasing solar cell eﬃciency Päivikki Repo’s, M.Sc. (Tech.), thesis focused on increasing solar cell efficiency by reducing both surface recombination and surface reﬂectance. The former was done by passivating the surface with different atomic layer deposited (ALD) coatings. In the case of black silicon (b-Si), surface passivation becomes even more important because of the nanostructured silicon surface. The work shows that ALD provides excellent passivation also for black silicon. This was utilised on actual solar cells and photodiodes. Black silicon has gained much interest in photovoltaic applications due to its low surface reﬂectance on a wide spectral range and acceptance angle. 46 / AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18
Solar cells fabricated as part of the thesis showed good performance with 18.7% efficiency. Even higher efficiencies of 22.1% are gained with back contact solar cells. This is the highest efficiency reached so far with black silicon solar cells. Bringing black silicon from the lab to industry in the near future looks very promising. This is due to its strong resilience to multiple processing steps. Päivikki Repo 9.9.2016: Reducing surface recombination in black silicon photovoltaic devices using atomic layer deposition. School of Electrical Engineering.
Energy system needs more ﬂexibility National energy policies seek to increase the share of local renewable energy. Behnam Zakeri’s, M.Sc. (Tech.), thesis examined the ﬂexibility of the Finnish energy system regarding large-scale integration of variable renewable energy (VRE). The integration of VRE was examined by employing quantitative energy system modelling methods. In studying the role of international power markets, a market-based multi-region energy system model was developed. The results indicate that Finland’s energy policy for the period 2020–30 would reach planned targets if the ﬂexibility of the national energy system remains on today’s level. However, the energy system’s ﬂexibility will be reduced by the addition of new nuclear power capacity and the retirement of thermal power plants. Furthermore, ﬂexibility may be reduced by the integration of large-scale wind power in the Nordic power market. Therefore, the Finnish energy system needs to increase its ﬂexibility and promote investment/markets for ﬂexibility. In this way, the country can achieve the planned beneﬁts. Behnam Zakeri 30.9.2016: Integration of variable renewable energy in national and international energy systems – Modelling and assessment of ﬂexibility requirements. School of Engineering.
Virtuality increases managers’ workload A study by Johanna Saarinen, Lic.Sc. (Econ.), M.Ed., addressed managerial work in global virtual teams. Saarinen gave voice to 36 managers from a multinational corporation based in Finland. The study indicates that virtuality alters the nature of cross-cultural
managerial work. Conﬂicting expectations create pressure on managers and lead to feelings of inadequacy. Managers are separated by distance and cultural differences from their employees, and simultaneously face high expectations and demands from stakeholders. Challenges are highlighted in multinational teams. The ﬁndings call for new leadership competencies, such as virtual communication and recruitment skills for the managers of global virtual teams. Instead of learning by trial and error, virtual managers need more support and training. Business schools and universities should focus more on developing the critical competencies needed to lead global teams from a distance. Johanna Saarinen 7.10.2016: Managing global virtual teams. School of Business.
New methods for computer graphics The goal of Miika Aittala’s, M.Sc. (Eng.), research was to develop practical low-cost methods for capturing the visual appearance of materials from realworld examples and reproducing it on virtual objects. This will enable rapid content creation for computer graphics applications. Three novel capture methods were introduced. The ﬁrst method uses a standard ﬂat-panel monitor and a camera to measure reﬂections off the surface and computes a high-quality material model out of this data. The other two methods take advantage of the textural repetition typical of many real-world materials, allowing them to produce rich appearance models from only two mobile phone photographs and a single photograph, respectively. The methods produce high-quality material descriptors that are directly usable in modern game and ﬁlm rendering engines that are foreseen to have practical applicability in the industry. The ﬁnal stages of negotiations about licensing some of the methods to a major American technology company are ongoing. Miika Aittala 28.10.16: Computational methods for capture and reproduction of photorealistic surface appearance. School of Science.
— Doctoral theses online: aaltodoc.aalto.ﬁ, shop.aalto.ﬁ
Filling the frame Marc Goodwin grew up around photography and cameras. His doctoral thesis urges architectural photography to move on from the blue and white of eternal summer. Text Marjukka Puolakka Photo Camille Kirnidis
MARC GOODWIN has been viewing the world through the lens of a camera since his childhood in London, where his father and older brother were both keen amateur photographers. Goodwin earned a BA in California, majoring in English literature and photography. After California came Barcelona, where he worked on writing novels, learning Spanish and Catalan, and largeformat, urban landscape photography. Eventually, it was time to return to London and learn more about art. Goodwin completed his Master of Arts studies at prestigious Goldsmiths, University of London. “It was there that I began to obsessively focus on architectural photography,” Goodwin says. This passion for photography then took him around the world. But then, it was time to earn a doctorate.
Away from blue and white “Before applying to Aalto University, I wrote to several people and received lengthy, detailed answers about studying in Finland. I really appreciated the time the busy professors took to help me. In London, it was more like: tick the boxes and send us a cheque.” His doctoral thesis at Aalto examined the conventions of architectural photography. His detailed study of architectural photos covered 3 493 pages of the maga-
zine Finnish Architectural Review published between 1912–2012. “Architectural photography in Finland is far too formulaic, conventional and uniform. It’s beautiful and skilful, but also standardised and placeless. Diversity is important in photography, just as in everything else in life.” Conventional architectural photography is reliant on one atmosphere: the blue and white of eternal summer. Because it is safe. The problem is that architectural photographs appear to also affect architectural design. You design things to look good in images and, if those images are all of one type, the buildings will be too.
images reﬂected the lived experience of autumnal Helsinki. Perhaps good architecture can also be shown in bad weather.
From weather to people
After the doctorate, it has been full steam ahead with photography. Today, Goodwin creates architectural photography with a focus on atmosphere in his company Archmospheres. “I’m shooting more than ever, with two partners and a network all around Europe. I focused on weather for the thesis because I moved north, but now it is time to put people back into the picture.” The person Goodwin deﬁnitely wants to put back in the home picture is his Grey matter wife. Considering a range of atmospheres “My wife and I have been in a longinstead of a single set of practices distance relationship for years. So the could be a way out of the impasse for conventional architectural photography. dream is to live in the same place once she ﬁnishes her studies in France. I hope “Finnish and Danish architects were really receptive to the idea of atmosphere we can together develop Archmospheres in architectural photos. However, when to show how complex and interesting it came time to buy images, they stuck to the world is.” their standard practices because no one wants to take risks in business.” Goodwin tested the viability of nonconventional atmospheres in architectural photography with students of architecture and photography. His nineMarc Goodwin 30.9.2016: month course ended in a successful Architecture’s Discursive Space: Photography exhibition called Grey Matter at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture Finnish Museum of Architecture. Its AALTO UNIVERSITY MAGAZINE 18 \ 47
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Everyday choices This column focuses on the personal choices experts make in association with their ﬁeld of research.
Jaana Beidler, do you ever see red? Colours and anger do not mix for Professor of Colour and Material Design. Text Paula Haikarainen Photo Veera Konsti
What is your favourite material? I am intrigued by innovation and new material concepts. Last summer, for example, I had a wonderful opportunity to work with applied physicists in a design-driven project focusing on biomimicry as well as the materials and processes found in nature. Rocks and minerals count from more of an emotional perspective. The striking colours of rock minerals, the optical effects of crystals, the beautiful sand grain patterns formed by wind and water, the versatility of glass and concrete, and paper made from limestone – these are all very important to me. The experience of writing on limestone paper is a pure delight beyond compare.
Before you joined Aalto University, you worked in the clothing and footwear industries in the US for two decades. Were you able to include your own favourites in the collections that you directed and designed? At Nike, Patagonia and all the companies I have worked at, design direction always starts with a deep empathy for customers or end-users and an understanding of their needs, motivations and aspirations. It was never about my personal preference. However, I always bring great passion into all my colour and material design projects.
Are athletic shoes proper for all occasions? What are your favourite sneakers? How about your favourite colours? Sneakers are absolutely proper and My favourite colours change constantly, suitable for any occasion. I recently depending on the weather, light and general mood of a season. At the moment, attended a wedding where the bride and groom both wore sneakers. I loved how I’m attracted by warm turquoise, moss the Nike Air Force 1s and Minna Parikka green and rusty, bright orange. They are Bunny Sneakers contrasted with their all somewhat quirky tones that bring traditional wedding outﬁts. energy to my fall and winter. I am loyal to Nike with my sneakers. I absolutely love Nike’s Flyknit technology When do you see red? and admire pretty much every shoe ever The dictionary deﬁnes “seeing red” as becoming suddenly very angry and losing made with it. Its opportunities for colour execution are so exciting, the multiple one’s temper. In those moments, I see shades and tonalities remind me of how no colours at all. That’s actually ﬁtting, colour appears in nature. For exercise, because when you lose your temper, you lose perspective. Colour always provides I choose Nike Frees and Air Max 90s. you with perspective, a point of view. But anger makes you blind. I believe being “blinded by anger” is also an expression and it holds more true with me in those unfortunate, but luckily rare, moments.
What materials should we utilise less of? Sustainability is the world’s greatest innovation challenge. I’ve been fortunate to have worked in companies that take environmental aspects of material use extremely seriously. Patagonia switched to organic cotton in 1996 when there wasn’t even enough organic cotton available to manufacture our usual collection. At Nike, we learned that materials account for up to 60% of a sneaker pair’s environmental impact. This makes it very clear that us designers play an important role with lots of responsibility when creating and selecting materials. The goal is to design products that are fully closed-loop: they use the fewest possible materials and can be easily disassembled, allowing them to be recycled or safely returned to nature at the end of their life. Lots of work is being done at Aalto University in the ﬁeld of colour and material sciences and sustainability. What makes me excited is that we designers are doing more and more innovation and working alongside scientists and engineers. Together, we can make a difference.
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THIS ISSUE TALKS ABOUT art and creativity
This issue looks at art and creative practices in society. The entire magazine is in English but you can read Finnish translations of some a...
Published on Dec 20, 2016
This issue looks at art and creative practices in society. The entire magazine is in English but you can read Finnish translations of some a...