Unlikely materials

Experimenting with underutilised bio-based materials.
Unlikely Materials exhibition: Material Experiments design Tiina Otala and photo Esa Kapila, Aalto University
Material experiments by Tiina Otala and Tuomas Laakkonen, ARTS and Tam Nguyen, CHEM. Photo: Esa Kapila / Aalto University

Imagine if you could dress in lupin flowers and cover your head with a seaweed hat. Sounds like a fairytale, right? But it could be the future – and not even a far-away one. 

Unlikely materials presents a collection of bio-based material innovations and early experiments made with novel technologies. From cellulosic bubble wrap to wood-based superblack colour pigment and garments made of invasive, abundant plant species, the exhibition allows us to imagine an alternative future of materials choices that could do good for the planet.

Welcome to see Aalto University's latest material prototypes by researchers and students.

Person standing in the nature wearing a hat made out of seaweed.
Algae research and experiments by Nina Riutta. Photo: Mitja Harvilahti

Create your own seaweed hat!

The seaweed hat is one of the surprising material experiments on display in this exhibition. But did you know that you can make one too?

Just collect, rinse, felt on a mold and let dry. Soon you'll have a seaweed hat, lamp shade or a bowl of your own.

See the instruction video

Unlikely Materials-exhibition: Lupin design Maija Vaara and Mithila Mohan, photo by Anne Kinnunen, Aalto University
Lupin experiments Maija Vaara and Mithila Mohan. Photo: Anne Kinnunen / Aalto University

Exhibition team: 

Co-curated by Pirjo Kääriäinen, Associate professor, Design and Materialities and Enni Äijälä, Senior specialist, Outreach with partners, Aalto University

Exhibition design, Baldur Haraldsson, student in Interior Architecture, Aalto University

Thank you Anna van der Lei

Designs for a Cooler Planet 2020 exhibition piece.

Designs for a Cooler Planet

The festival returns to Otaniemi this fall, 6 Sept – 3 Oct 2024, revealing how we can change the world.

Additional information:

Pirjo Kääriäinen
Associate professor, Design and Materialities 

Enni Äijälä  
Senior specialist, partners and outreach 
+358 50 359 4810 
[email protected] 

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