Designing for New Realities! Seminar

06.03.2012 / 10:00 - 16:00

What kind of future realities do you want to see? How can we affect our immediate social and wider environment through design? And how does design positively change the world?

The Copenhagen Wheel by the MIT Senseable City Lab 
Photo: Max Tomasinelli

Victor Papanek_credits Yrjö Sotamaa.jpg
Victor Papanek in Finland at the end of sixtees. Photo: Yrjö Sotamaa.


Our globalised world brings with it an increased sense of the deepening inter-dependencyof countries. Environmental challenges are global and local. The internationalisation of economies coupled with the explosive growth of social media have created a situation where events taking place in different corners of the world can rapidly impact the daily lives of people living anywhere else on the planet.

At the same time, the focal point in design is shifting increasingly from object orientation to more human, user-centred, and societal approaches. Designing responsibly and imaginatively is not new, but a fresh will and spirit seem to be emerging. Can these socially aware design approaches really offer something meaningful that we can adopt today, and will they be relevant even tomorrow?

Finding answers and crossing boundaries

Aalto University will strive to answer these questions in a seminar organised on the 6th of March 2012. The international Designing for New Realities! -seminar challenges us to re-consider the significance of design in society. The seminar opens up the historical and current trends of responsible design through real-life projects and creates perspectives into the future.

The seminar crosses boundaries between countries, age groups, nationalities, and different sectors of the economy by including contributions from students, researchers, professors, overseas university partners, and experts. Aalto’s partner universities (Tongji University, China and MIT and the Stanford University, USA-originating Embrace Global) will take part in the seminar and provide concrete examples to be displayed in the DesignWorld exhibition at the Design Museum.

Follow the stream

A total of 150 invited guests will take part in the seminar, and a direct webcast of the event will be available to viewers throughout the world.
Follow the live stream on March 6th at

Seminar Program

10:00 Opening words
President Tuula Teeri

10:15 Papanek’s heritage – Design for a Real World
Professor Yrjö Sotamaa

11:00 Aalto Global Impact, Presentations and Discussion
Professor Alastair Fuad-Luke, moderator
Andy Clutterbuck, Aalto-Unicef collaboration
Professor Minna Halme
Professor Turkka Keinonen
Creative Sustainability student Sujil Kodathoor
Professor Olli Varis
Architecture student Inari Virkkala

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Designing for New Relationships
Researcher Tuuli Mattelmäki

13:50 A Design Driven Sustainable Community
Professor Lou Yongqi, Tongji University

14:10 Embrace Global
COO Linus Liang

14:30 Break

14:50 Copenhagen Wheel,
Designer, Architect Eric Baczuk,SENSEable City Lab, MIT

15:10 Cape Town Calling
Professor Mugendi M`Rithaa, Cape Peninsula University of Technology

15:30 Panel Discussion

Professor Alastair Fuad-Luke and Cindy Kohtala, moderators
Senior Researcher Tuuli Mattelmäki, Aalto University
Professor Lou Yongqi, Tongji University
COO Linus Liang, Embrace Global
Designer, Architect Eric Baczuk, MIT
Dr, Mugendi M`Rithaa, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Professor Turkka Keinonen, Aalto University
Professor Martin Steinert, Stanford University, Centre of Design Research

16:00 Closing Words
Dean Helena Hyvönen



News / DfNR seminar videos are up!

If you missed the live streaming of the Designing for New Realities! seminar, never fear. The seminar is now online on YouTube. As summed up by moderator Alastair Fuad-Luke, "the collective ambition of the speakers and audience was palpable and, hopefully, societies are ready to take action to finally validate the foundation laid by an earlier generation who raised the socially conscious design flag back in the 1960s."


News / Designing for New Realities! seminar - follow the stream on March 6th

Can socially aware design approaches really offer something meaningful that we can adopt today, and will they be relevant even tomorrow? Aalto University will strive to answer these questions in a seminar organised, as part of World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 program.


News / Design in Pictures: music action painting

The Design Exploration and Experimentation: Family project is nearing its end. The students are placing finishing touches to their works, which will be presented at the Design Museum next Tuesday, March 6th. Before the big day we take a look behind the scenes, including a pilot project by Maarten den Breeijen.

Key facts

Aalto University


Kaisa Kivelä, Project Manager
kaisa.kivela [at] aalto [dot] fi

Important dates:
March 6th 2012, 10:00-16:00

Ateneum Hall, Kaivokatu 2, Helsinki

By invitation only


Design Museum