Department of Design

Aalto Design Research

Aalto Design Research is at the international forefront of enquiry into and through design.
Main image of Aalto Design Research Page

Our research

Our research environment fosters goal-oriented research, imaginative experiments, critical discussion and cross-disciplinary enquiry.

We work with businesses, scientists, technologists, sociologists, policymakers, public sector organisations and communities of interest towards a more just and sustainable world. 

Aalto Design Research has three, interlinked foci:  Design for Sustainability, Collaborative and Human-Centred Design and Practice-Based Design Research.

 

Julia Lohmannin Hidaka Ohmu. Kuva: Mikko Raskinen

Design for Sustainability

Development of new sustainable materials, research on product/service systems for sustainability, sustainable consumption and research on sustainability transitions.

Department of Design
Aalto Sustainability Hub community

Collaborative and Human-Centred Design

Collaborative and Human-Centred Design research includes co-design, service design, interaction design, user experience, end-user innovation and open design.

Department of Design
Prof. Maarit Mäkelä and her work

Practice-based design research

Practice-based design research includes artistic research, design-driven exploration on emerging technologies and materials, and the action research–oriented development of new design methods and approaches.

Department of Design

We also research design management and innovations as well as contemporary and historical issues of design culture and society. Our work extends to applied research that serves industry and the public sector.

Aalto Design Research seeks both rigour and high societal relevance. A high proportion of its work involves multi- and trans-disciplinary collaboration. It is also characterized by engagement with societal challenges and collaborations with organizations in the private and public sectors and with civil society actors.

Research Groups

The research foci of the Department of Design are pursued in seven research groups. In addition the Department of Design has expertise in design strategy, design management and innovation research and in research on the historical and cultural significance of design.

 

 

Embodied Design Group

Conducts prototyping-driven research to investigate design thinking, design opportunities, and user experience.

Aalto University/Flags

Empirica – Research on art, design and culture

Group approaches research with an attitude, where making, acting and engaging play important roles.

Empirica tutkimusryhmän työtä

ENCORE– Engaging co-design Research

ENCORE team’s research combines human-centered design, experience design and empathic service design.

Encore group

Fashion/Textile Futures

The Fashion/Textile Futures research group explores new perspectives on human-centered design research. The group approaches research in the field of fashion, clothing and textiles in multi-faceted ways.

A coat made of Ioncell. Design: Anna-Mari Leppisaari. Photo: Eeva Suorlahti

INUSE - The users and innovation research group

Researches the roles users play in design and innovation.

Aalto Flags - Aino Huovinen

NODUS – Sustainable design research group

NODUS Sustainable Design Research Group undertakes transdisciplinary design research for sustainable futures.

Nodus tutkimusryhmäläisiä keskustelemassa

SDIM - Strategic Design Integration and Management Group

The Strategic Design Integration and Management (SDIM) research group organises researchers with an interest in design management and the organisational adoption, implementation and leadership of designers and design-based practices at the Department of Design.

SDIM research group image

Aalto Design Research in Numbers

We currently supervise over 50 active students within our doctoral programme  and we achieve around 40 peer-reviewed articles and books annually. The number of international peer-review journal articles has grown 400% since 2012. The qualitative improvement is visible in the increase of publications in top-of-the-field (the world’s top 10%) outlets, which has grown from 1–2 annually in 2011–2013 to 18 in 2016:  about a 1000% increase. 

In the University's Research, Art and Impact (RAI) assessment of 2018, the Department of Design's research was described by an international expert panel as 'one of the top design departments in the world...There clearly is buzz about what the Department of Design is producing.'

In 2015 the Aalto ARTS Crown indicator was 2.14 and in 2016 it was 2.65. This indicates the status of a global leader in research among the art-based design schools and is the highest crown score among Aalto’s six schools. The Department of Design is a major contributor to both the volume of articles and the number of citations in the crown score.

in 2020, Aalto Design ranked 7th in QS

Aalto University’s Art & Design now 7th best in the world according to the annual QS Ranking

number of post-doctoral students in design

There are now 14 post-doctoral researchers engaged in our research activities.

num of phd students

There are now 52 active doctoral students enrolled in our research community.

num of exhibitions in 2019 at Aalto Design Research

We organised or took part in 71 exhibitions in 2019.

num of research groups at Aalto Design Research

We are a research community of 7 research groups with diverse backgrounds.

News & Events

1,5 degree lifestyles
Research & Art, Studies Published:

Addressing climate change will require radical changes in lifestyles: new report by international consortium of research institutes

The Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Aalto University, D-mat, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, and the KR Foundation, at the World Resources Forum (WRF), today announced the launch of a report which analyses the carbon footprints of household lifestyles and how changes can contribute to meeting the ambitious 1.5-degree aspirational target envisaged by the Paris Agreement on climate change.
Towards an eco-welfare state – how to direct the transition?
Research & Art, Studies Published:

Towards an eco-welfare state – how to direct the transition?

We interviewed Mikko Jalas, Creative Sustainability Programme Director and Professor of Practice, about Towards Eco-Welfare State: Orchestrating for Systemic (ORSI)
Julia Lohmann's Department of Seaweed at WEF. Photo: Mikko Raskinen
Research & Art, Studies Published:

Julia Lohmann: ‘We know too much and do too little’

Lohmann’s magnificent seaweed pavilion encourages leaders to make difficult decisions and establish a ‘do-tank’ way of collaborating at the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos.
Marium Durrani
Research & Art, Studies Published:

Revival of garment mending: communal reskilling addresses global issues of textile waste

Dissertation of the month: Mending clothes, one of the oldest practices known to humankind, nowadays stands for global awareness of the textile waste problem.

Doctoral Studies at Aalto Design Research

Studying for a doctorate with us

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Aalto University, Otaniemi stories: Anna Kholina, doctoral student in Design / photographer: Sinikoski

Contact Aalto Design Research

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