Future of ARTS

Get to know our vision

Pattern Lab 20 Collection Paradise 1 ©Pattern Lab

Pattern Lab 20 Collection Paradise 1 ©Pattern Lab

In August 2019, the Aalto ARTS community embarked on a journey of self-organised, collective reflection. Our ongoing mission is to learn from each other, gather insights and release the innate creativity and leadership in us all. We invited our whole community to contribute to the future vision for Aalto ARTS. We took collective responsibility for the topics we care about. Not by controlling but by promoting creative chaos as our force. This is a summary of our many Open Space* community sessions, discussions and the multiple efforts and aspirations that arose from them. Nobody and everybody at Aalto ARTS owns this content, nobody and everybody can claim full credit for these insights. Our work remains in progress, and we will re-evaluate these findings on a regular basis. We are shaping a sustainable future. Join us to explore these ideas further!

*Open Space is a highly self-organised technique of facilitating.

Photo: Valo Motion

an interactive climbing wall

Impact through creativity

lights in an empty studio

Photo: Mortti Saarnia

Photo: Mortti Saarnia

We are in the midst of an ecological, technological, social and economic transformation that will fundamentally alter our way of life. The scale and complexity of this change is unlike anything humankind has experienced before. To adequately address the challenges linked to this transformation, we need collective and comprehensive new thinking as well as tangible solutions. Aalto University leads the way in this big transition by providing transdisciplinary knowledge and skills deeply integrated with design, art, business thinking, and technology. Solutions to the world’s pressing issues can be found by surpassing traditional boundaries, being bold and enabling renewal. At Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture we provide creative and collaborative approaches to problem-solving. We nurture the ability to perceive the world in new ways, to find hidden patterns, to make connections between seemingly unrelated phenomena, and to imagine the yet unimaginable. We thrive on variety, imagination and inspiration.

Our expertise is rooted in the fields of design, architecture, film, new media, and art. Our work is framed by our wider Finnish and Nordic context which strives for a fair, happy and secure way of life for all. We’re bringing new perspectives to pressing social issues. As part of Aalto University, our three cross-cutting approaches are linked to sustainability, an entrepreneurial mindset and radical creativity. We're making an impact: through collaboration and originality.

The Aalto ARTS mindset

What kind of a future is the Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture striving for? Which trends will shape education and research, and the present and future of the whole Aalto community? Our mindset is not just about preparing to adapt to a changing world. Instead, we want to grasp the opportunity and power we possess to shape the future and direct it toward something that reflects our common values: courage, responsibility and collaboration. There is an unlimited number of different possible futures, and it’s up to us to create the one we want — through the decisions we make on a daily basis as teachers, students, researchers, academics and staff members. At Aalto ARTS, we share a strong ethical compass: we all want our work to contribute to creating the best possible future for the people and the planet, for this generation and for generations to come. We are actively shaping a sustainable future. How do Aalto University students see the future? A transdisciplinary student group defined five central trends that will affect our future.

From hands-on to sky-high!
three white mannequin torsos lined up beside eachother

Education, Research, Impact & Collaboration

dried leaves and flowers on black background

Photo: Materials from nature, CHEMARTS / Eeva Suorlahti

Photo: Materials from nature, CHEMARTS / Eeva Suorlahti


The education sector is booming as a growing global population has a keen thirst for knowledge. But how can today's universities prepare students for a world that doesn't yet exist?

At Aalto ARTS, we are developing our education curricula and teaching methods to respond to the needs of a rapidly changing society. Alongside formal degree-based provision, the need for continuous and life-wide education is growing, while digitalization is also opening up fresh opportunities. We seek synergies between all forms of education as well as collaborations with emerging actors in the education ecosystem. This way we can ensure that the training we offer remains relevant under all the different and possible future scenarios. The traditional role of universities might be challenged in the future — we say bring it on! Read more about our studies and programmes.

Impact & Collaboration

Universities are a source of reliable and unbiased information. There is now a huge demand for our knowledge outside of academia. In particular, there is a need to put purpose above profit, to develop a better understanding of humanity, empathy, storytelling, equality, ethics, user and planetary centric designs, sustainable lifestyles and living environments as well as attractive cultural and creative organisations – to name just a few. At Aalto ARTS we can speed up change and increase our social impact. What we look for in our partnerships, are shared values and mutual benefits. Dialogue, two-way learning and research and employment opportunities for our talents are just some of the benefits collaboration can bring. At the same time, we’re looking for new ways to safeguard our funding. Are you looking to explore an alternative perspective? Contact us!


Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture cultivates creative and transformative research in a dynamic relationship with business, society, technology and the environment.

In our research, we are focused on:

- Co-creating sustainability through art, design and architecture. We are shaping a sustainable world through transdisciplinary and inclusive participatory research topics and methods.

- Social responsibility through art, design and architecture. Our research drives ethics, justice and empowerment in a shifting society.

- Creative practices in art, design and architecture. We promote creative professional practices in all their forms to achieve reflection, impact and economic viability and sustainability.

- Digital opportunities in art, design and architecture. We are inspired by innovation, experience, narration and learning in the digital world. Below, you can find more information on open techno-scientific entities.

To learn more, get to know our departments and their strengths.

When logic says no, creativity says: why not?
black and white illustration depicting arts education with a communal and hopeful feeling

Illustration: Annukka Mäkijärvi

Illustration: Annukka Mäkijärvi

black and white illustration with people in an urban space doing different thing such as walking dos, sitting on park bench, biking, out with a stroller
black and white image with people climbing a big ball of yarn with the word 'problem' on it trying to solve it together

Open techno-scientific entities

Technology is spreading through our lives and creating a new landscape of opportunities. The boundary between what is human and what is machine is becoming blurred. Despite their increasingly sophisticated decision-making abilities, technological systems still need human inputs, such as creative thought processes and reasoning. The grey area between human and machine is of enduring interest to us at Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture. We explore creativity in stimulating techno-scientific innovations, philosophies and emerging practices with a human touch. How can artists and designers create and manipulate sound, visuals and games using digital, computational and AI methods? How do we empower creative expression? How can we positively affect how the world is seen and understood, including through artistic and information visualisation or novel imaging technologies? Ultimately, we are interested in what it means to be human, and how our way of perceiving and interacting with the world is shifting.

Video documentation of audiovisual collective ALOES by Aalto graduates Alex van Giersbergen (Medialab) & Marloes van Son (ViCCA)

Video documentation of audiovisual collective ALOES by Aalto graduates Alex van Giersbergen (Medialab) & Marloes van Son (ViCCA)

Culture and well-being

Responsibility, courage, collaboration

Two people wearing jean jackets

Photo: Veera Konsti

Photo: Veera Konsti

Great universities have great cultures, and student, faculty and staff wellbeing is a fundamental contributor to getting there. A culture of wellbeing can’t simply be tagged on an organisation as an afterthought. It’s far too important to our success. Instead, student, faculty and staff wellbeing must remain at the top of the agenda for School leadership. This is true for any organisation aspiring to be great.

At Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture, building a culture of wellbeing means addressing workload and workspace issues, assessing emotional risks linked to social interaction and feelings of isolation, and building a strong, well-resourced and versatile support system that meets the many individual needs of both students and staff.

In our diverse and international community, wellbeing means different things to different people. The definition remains in constant flux, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. This means that we can’t simply design foolproof services that automatically deliver wellbeing for all. Instead, what matters is constant reflection and service improvement alongside actions that allow physical, psychological, social and even ecological wellbeing to emerge.

collection of Aalto people
I’m wearing my memory jacket, which reminds me of all my years at ARTS: my bachelor’s and master’s degrees, my friends’ degree shows, and projects I have helped with.
Amina #AaltoLooks
collection of faculty members

Photos of our faculty by Veera Konsti

Photos of our faculty by Veera Konsti

As a teacher, my most important task is to help a new generation to become talented agents of change.
Jenni Reuter #FacultyStories
I’m interested in the grey areas of art & society.
Max Ryynänen #FacultyStories

Radical creativity & Transdisciplinarity

white abstract forms on black background

Artworks: Pedagogical Encounters – educational development research project at ARTS (Nuutinen & Löytönen, AoF, 2012 – 2015) Photos: Anne Kinnunen Artwork: Eeva Jokinen

Artworks: Pedagogical Encounters – educational development research project at ARTS (Nuutinen & Löytönen, AoF, 2012 – 2015) Photos: Anne Kinnunen Artwork: Eeva Jokinen

Radical creativity brings forward new ideas that challenge prevailing organisational modus operandi, rejecting incremental and iterative processes in favour of novel practices and approaches.

Aalto School of Arts, Design and Architecture is committed to an experimental culture. We want to encourage practices that break boundaries between different disciplines and between theory and practice.

In the context of radical creativity and transdisciplinarity, our learning objectives focus on meaning-making, triggering curiosity and tackling complexity through problem framing.

Our teaching practices acknowledge diversity and are student centred and process driven. By sharing expertise and embracing mistakes, we foster communication and learning through reflection.

Our learning environments are open and safe spaces for experimentation. Material explorations enable multimodal, experiential learning and new discoveries through making.

Going beyond the obvious.

Artwork: Kirsti Taiviola

Eye artwork

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Wooden shelter 'Kohta' at Koria train station by Wood Programme.

Kohta, Koria train stop by Aalto Wood Programme. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo

Kohta, Koria train stop by Aalto Wood Programme. Photo: Tuomas Uusheimo