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.

Empirica – Research on art, design and culture (external link)

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

Empirica tutkimusryhmän työtä

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 (external link)

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 (external link)

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

ENCORE– Engaging co-design Research

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

Encore group

Embodied Design Research Group

Embodied design (ED) can be seen as a design agenda. Current computing systems treat human beings mostly as connected minds, quite completely disregarding our bodily engagement with the world. Embodied design embraces the human body as a central resource for action, communication, and play.

EDG Research Group

Department Of Design | Latest Publications

Latest research output and publications from the Department of Design.

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Aalto University's Research Portal

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.

Design Research News

Resource Wisdom Designs for a Cooler_Planet heroimage design Aino Salonen and Oona Raadelma
Campus, Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

The Designs for a Cooler Planet exhibition showcases 30 projects for a more sustainable future

What is wise to design for future generations in a world of plenty?
Särkyvää-keramiikka näyttely EMMA-museossa toukokuu2021_elokuu2022_kuva_Ari KArttunen_EMMA_2021
Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

Let ceramics challenge you at the EMMA Museum

The newly opened exhibition reflects on our relationship to ceramics, clay and the environment.
Leevi Ikäheimo's anatomical outfit (2020). Photo: Mika Kailes
Cooperation, Research & Art Published:

The exhibition Intimacy featured at the Design Museum

The exhibition Intimacy opens this autumn at the Design Musem and will explore the intimate relationship between the body and the clothes we wear.
Tummatukkainen nainen katsoo suoraan kameraan, hänellä on punainen mekko yllään ja taustalla vaalea seinä
Research & Art Published:

‘Materials shape our understanding of the environment’

Dissertation of the Month: Bilge Aktaş believes that if we start paying more attention to what happens in the world beyond humans, we can start repairing our relationship with the environment.

Design Research Events

designtalks_cities
Online event

#3 DesignTalks: The relevance of design for cities

Why design is especially useful for cities? Núria Solsona (Aalto University) and Päivi Hietanen (City of Helsinki) are sharing their insights. Everyone is welcome to join!

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

Contact us

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