Annual Conceptual Design courses have been running since 2007, with content developing each year. While the course is influenced by Conceptual and Critical Design, it is also critical of them and aims for real-world impact. Students are encouraged to study current challenges and address them in designerly ways.

From 2018 the Conceptual Design Workshop is running as Critical Design Practices, a joint course for MA-programs of CoDE – Contemporary Design and FaCT – Fashion Clothing and Textile Design. The new Aalto site is used create an online archive of the course outcomes.

Images from courses and exhibitions:

Building up Conceptual Exploration exhibition

Idea Outlet, pop-up exhibition at Kamppi shopping centre

Student projects include:
Proverbs for the Digital Age (2018)
by Linnea Kilpi, Elisa Defossez, Megan McGlynn, Yuanyang Zhou

“Proverbs stick in the mind and guide our behaviors in powerful ways. As the digital world engulfs our societies and cyber security becomes more important, we hope these proverbs generate discussion and provide wisdom.”

You Found it (2017)
Johanna Boyd, Ida Korsström, Cecília Kugler, Reea Peltola, Anastasia Poljatschenko

“The Finnish Teenage Perspective on Fashion and Lifestyle. After studying teenager´s perspective to fashion and lifestyle, we are collaborating with a second hand shop in Helsinki – Vallilan Stoori. We curate a selection of clothes and accessories specifically for teenagers that will be available for purchase at their shop.

Teenagers are the producers and consumers of the future, therefore it is important to understand their lifestyles, interests and concerns. As designers, we want to help teenagers make sustainable consumer decisions while expressing their personal and interpersonal styles.”

Who U R (2016)
Pia Grassi, Emilia Kuurila, Justus K, Ervin Latimer

“Our group group comes from Finland, Sweden, Mexico, Italy and the US so the subject of race and culture naturally dwelled in our conversations.

We were fascinated by the thin line between appropriation and appreciation, exoticism and inspiration. What are the “ethical rules” of this issue? How politically correct do we have to be when referring to each other in a multicultural context? Can we own the identity of our heritage, when do we have the ‘right’ to represent a certain heritage? Can we use science to determine any of these questions?”

Installation and experiments in collaboration with the University of Helsinki, faculty of Biological and Environmental sciences.

Somebody Else’s Problem, SEP (2014)

Heta Vajavaara, Taija Sairanen, Pirita Lauri

“SEP -mentality implies to a presumed someone else that can refer to another individual, group of individuals as well as to an authority or an administrative organ. In many cases SEP-mentality also contains a peculiar trust, or admiration, in that someone else. This trust clouds our natural common sense and judgement, making us passive and look the other way. The “SEP -mentality may not be a permanent disability”. SEP-mentality should be addressed as a wholeness of excuses, and as something that may be overridden.” 

Primary research question(s): Who is Someone Else? Can anyone act as a (someone’s) Someone Else? Is it possible to act in spite of the SEP -mentality beliefs?

The group compiled a list of “someone should do something” requests in Helsinki area and proceeded to address the requests; from cleaning a littered street, to asking questions from prominent politicians and philosophers. The outcome is a collection of requests and deeds presented as an installation: videos, photographs and texts.



Title image from Plastic 101 project by Atso-Kasper Costiander, Laura Meriluoto, Riikka Piippo, Milla Vainio