Aalto students’ eco-art exhibition opens at Helsinki Airport

Krista Kinnunen

The exhibition From Nature to Future combines material experimentation and art with surprising results.

Evol by Sushant Passi. Evol is a series of artistic explorations with two natural materials from trees: cellulose and natural rubber latex. Photo: Eeva Suorlahti.

The exhibition is a launch of a new long-term collaboration between Aalto University and airport operator Finavia, who agreed this autumn on a three year collaboration including three exhibitions at the airport. The first one can be seen in Terminal 2 starting before Christmas and it will be open for a year.

The exhibitions belong to Finavia’s Art Port Concept. The idea is to offer passengers surprising new services.

- For Finavia, the Art Port concept is also part of our corporate responsibility. We think it is an excellent way of presenting Finnish expertise and offering artists the opportunity to get international visibility for their works, says Ville Haapasaari, Airport Director and SVP of Finavia Corporation.


Photo: Eeva Suorlahti.

The first exhibition is called From Nature to Future. It presents visionary concepts made out of natural raw materials. Altogether 22 design students from Aalto University took the challenge to imagine a more sustainable future by developing their own biomaterials.

They attended a study course that is part of Aalto University’s CHEMARTS activities, combining biomaterial research and creative design. The main objective is to inspire students and researchers to explore and to create new concepts for the future use of cellulose and other biomaterials. 

Towards a more sustainable future of materials 

- Aalto University is first of all an educational platform for our students to explore, develop their ideas and cultivate their expertise. What we can see in the exhibition is results of only seven weeks' work, yet it reveals that the students really are ahead of time and they have the capacity to create a more sustainable future” explains the teacher of the course Anna van der Lei from Aalto University.

The exhibition works are experiments, not products - yet. The students used renewable raw materials like wood-based cellulose, food waste, feathers and plants. They started experimenting by collecting some materials by themselves in the Nuuksio National Park. Those materials were foraged, scavenged and collected before they were refined into new novel products ready for a more hopeful future.

Aalto University, together with partners has been developing new biomaterials and techniques in years long research projects, where cellulose has been the starting point.
The exhibition shows what Finland can offer to the future. Having a solid reputation as a country with brilliant forest expertise, Aalto University takes it further and shows that Finnish expertise also extends to developing new biomaterials that may be key to resolving material sustainability challenges globally.

- Cellulose has the potential to be a real supermaterial of the future, and new biomaterial experiments are opening promising views, says Designer in Residence Pirjo Kääriäinen, who is a leading design expert in the CHEMARTS research project at Aalto University.


Photo: Eeva Suorlahti.

CHEMARTS is a long-term strategic collaboration between two Aalto University schools: the School of Chemical Engineering  and the School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The aim is to invent new ways to harness wood and cellulose, and to research the performance and design of advanced cellulosic materials for new innovative uses.

The exhibition From Nature to Future can be seen in Baggage Claim Hall 2B where passengers arriving from e.g. Asia and America and other non-Schengen countries collect their baggage. It is open from December 2017 to the end of year 2018

Students: Sara Akhlaghmoayed, Marjut Alitalo, Jin-young Chun, Lofti El Salah, Anastasia Ivanova, Tomi Jeskanen, Martha Jessen, Xiaoyu Ji, Enni Karell, Simona Kliuciute, Heikki Konu, Alexander Munsters, Anna-Riikka Nuutinen, Riko Omata, Zuika Owada, Sushant Passi, Meri-Tuuli Porras, Riina Ruus-Prato, Dayoung Song, Miu Tanaka, Linda Vanni and
Sini West.

Teachers: Anna van der Lei, Pirjo Kääriäinen and team at CHEMARTS lab and Aalto ARTS

Time: December 2017–December 2018
Location: Terminal 2, Baggage Claim Hall 2B

Read more about the CHEMARTS project:


Photo: Eeva Suorlahti.