Academic events and traditions

Honorary doctors of Arts 2019

At the conferment ceremony of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in June eight new honorary doctors in the field of arts were conferred their doctorates.
Aalto University / Heli Sorjonen
Aalto University / Matti Rajala

Eija-Liisa Ahtila is a renowned contemporary visual artist and filmmaker. She experiments with narrative storytelling in her films and cinematic installations. In her earlier works, she has dealt with the unsettling human dramas at the centre of personal relationships, dealing with topics such as teenage sexuality, family relations, mental disintegration and death. Her later works deal with profound and fundamental artistic questions where she investigates the processes of perception and attribution of meaning, at times in the light of a broader cultural and existential thematic like colonialism, faith and posthumanism. Ahtila's work in the intersection of film and media art, integrating contemporary critical and theoretical approaches connects to the cross-disciplinary values of Aalto University. She has often acted as visiting lecturer at Aalto.

Aalto University / Matti Rajala

PhD. (Eng.)Jacob Buur is a professor in User-Centred Design at the University of Southern Denmark and director of the SDU Design Research Environment. Dr Buur is a visionary researcher and appreciated academic leader, and he also has substantial experience in industrial research and product development. Buur’s work has been world leading in building cross-disciplinary collaboration between engineering and human sciences. He has experimented with a range of innovative design methods, such as using theatre and drama approaches to engage users and to facilitate collaboration. Buur has also developed techniques to utilise visual material, especially video for a wide range of analytical and creative purposes in design. Jacob Buur has been collaborating closely with Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture since 1990 in several advisory roles, especially in doctoral education.

Aalto University / Matti Rajala

Professor emerita Helena Hyvönen acted as the President of the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 2008–2009 and as the Dean for the School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2010–2014. Prior she has been the professor in textile art, the Head of programme and the Head of the Department of Design. Hyvönen has underlined the possibilities that art, creativity and design offer for societal impact. She actively developed the School to answer to the needs of the surrounding society. Sustainable development, human-centeredness and esthetics were the basis of Helena Hyvönen’s academic work. Hyvönen had a central role in starting the activities of Aalto University and she led the School of Arts, Design and Architecture to become the multidisciplinary entity, which it is today. Helena Hyvönen has actively contributed to the advances and internationalization of the field of design. Her active work at the Donghua University in China has strengthened the international ties of the School and created basis for student exchange. In addition to her academic career Hyvönen has substantial artistic merit. She was elected the textile artist of the year in 1997, and her textiles and unique art textiles are displayed in various public spaces.

Aalto University / Matti Rajala

Landscape architect Leena Iisakkila is a pioneer of landscape architecture in Finland. She was a central figure in the birth of the university level landscape design program, that will be 30 years in 2019.  She was also influential in how the field of landscape design solidified in Finland from 1960s until 1980s. Leena Iisakkila graduated from Kunstakademi, Denmark in 1965 and has since worked as an independent designer. Iisakkila worked as the first academic teacher of the field in Finland at the Helsinki University and the Helsinki University of Technology. Her constructive and action emphasising co-operation was significant when the new field was springing to life. Leena Iisakkila’s career as a designer, teacher, writer and influential person is a role model for many actors in Finland.

Aalto University / Matti Rajala

M.Sc. (Econ) Kari Korkman is an internationally leading figure in design management and design promotion. Korkman has had a visible role in commercialising and internationalising Finnish design since the early 1990s. He is best known for his achievements in creating and leading Helsinki Design Week (HDW) since 2005. HDW has grown to the most important event in maintaining the design reputation of Helsinki and Finland, and it has been instrumental in creating design infused urban culture. Korkman’s design promotion work and especially HDW has provided School of Arts, Design and Architecture faculty and students excellent venues for showcasing their design achievements. Korkman’s view of design is broad and progressive and he is actively creating opportunities for new forms and kinds of design to be communicated outside the academic circles. Korkman is also the president of World Design Weeks.

Aalto University / Matti Rajala

Irit Rogoff is a professor of Visual Culture and founder of the department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and one of the world leaders in establishing the academic field of visual culture. Her work articulates the substantive and methodological strands of the field as a meeting ground between the philosophical, the political and contemporary creative practices. More recently, Rogoff’s work concerns geography, counter cartography and questions of globalisation. Irit Rogoff has worked as a visiting professor in the Department of Art at Aalto University and has engaged in academic teaching, theoretical writing, curatorial projects and organising events with faculty and students. Together with professors from Aalto, she co-curated The Bergen Assembly in 2016.

Aalto University / Matti Rajala

Gerfried Stocker is a pioneer of new media, media artist and Engineer in Communication Technology. Since 1995 he has been artistic and managing director of the world-leading organisation of art and technology, the Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria. Stocker is a founder of art and technology laboratory X-SPACE, and he initiated the establishment of the interdisciplinary research and development unit, the Ars Electronica Futurelab. He was also heavily involved in the design and planning of the new and expanded Ars Electronica Centre - Museum of the Future, which opened in 2009. The Centre is probably the world’s most significant and impactful public centre, devoted to the marriage of Art & Technology. He has repositioned the Ars Electronica Festival as a broad international platform to meet the massively growing interest in combining art and technology. This has expanded to include the European Union STARTS Prize Awards granted to projects that demonstrate the successful integration of science, technology and art to contribute to social and economic innovation. Stocker is a guest speaker at many international conferences and universities, and a consultant for numerous international companies and organisations in the areas of creativity and innovation management.

Aalto University / Matti Rajala

Daniel Thawley is the editor-in-chief and publisher of the renowned A Magazine Curated by. Mr Thawley is among the leading fashion writers of today, who also contributes to various editions of Vogue, Business of Fashion (BoF), Pop, Wallpaper and Another Magazine. Daniel Thawley has collaborated with Aalto University since 2012 as the driving force behind yearly Aalto Fashion Seminars. He has promoted Aalto University and the talent of its students to his vast professional network, thus convincing numerous key characters of the fashion industry to arrive in Helsinki for the seminar and the university's fashion show. Through Thawley's input Aalto University, its students and alumni have gained recognition in top international media and it has also led to students employment. Mr Thawley has also acted as the chairman for the annual Näytös prize.  

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