Give for the future

Radical creativity sparks discoveries

An idea that may sound crazy at first can be the key to solving significant challenges. Aalto University provides a favourable environment for daring initiatives that can lead to the discovery of some genuinely novel solutions.
Aalto innovations present at Flow Festival, photo by Samuli Pentti

The world is changing at a rapid pace and society will continue to face more and more perplexing global challenges that cannot be solved by individual disciplines alone. We are in need of radical new ideas to move forward.

‘With abundant multidisciplinary expertise, Aalto University provides a remarkably fertile environment for even the most unexpected col-lision of ideas. Now more than ever, the world needs radical thinking and new perspectives’, says Tuomas Auvinen, Dean of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

Ten years ago, the establishment of Aalto University showed the world a new way: it gave rise to a unique and innovative community for art, technology and business. Aalto now aims to be a global trailblazer of radical creativity, and make a substantial contribution to a sustainable future for all.

‘We at Aalto, have the capacity to think differently and identify connections that have not yet been discovered elsewhere. I hope that within another ten years, academics around the world will exclaim: “Wow, this idea originated at Aalto too!”’, Auvinen adds.

Tuomas Auvinen
‘Now more than ever, the world needs radical thinking and new perspectives’, believes Tuomas Auvinen, Dean of the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

A culture of novel discoveries

Radical creativity requires curiosity and the willingness to ask ‘What if ?’. When people still travelled on horseback, it would have been crazy to think that one day, we would be using flying as a mode of transport!

At Aalto, radical creativity between various disciplines is already commonplace: what if spiderweb was used as a building material, and clothes were made of seaweed? What if retirement homes were replaced with grandma’s cottages, and all of us were energy producers?

Creativity and management have also come together. Auvinen says, ‘Creativity is ingrained in each and every one of us, whether it is with art, technology or business and critical thinking, innovation, problem solving and the identification of connections are human skills that can be developed together’.

Creativity can take flight when various viewpoints meet without having to compete for superiority. An atmosphere that supports new discoveries can also make positive use of disagreements,‘We should create a culture where individuals can engage even in intense dialogue without having to feel insecure or experience any sense of competition’, Auvinen adds.

Students at Aalto are considered an essential asset as they are the ones that find each other from the beginning and form bold and promising connections between disciplines; helping them to push forward their vision of the future.

Shared home bases and Idea Tinder

It’s impossible to create something new without experimentation, but not all experiments lead to discoveries. For individuals, radical creativity requires courage, and from the community, it requires an environment where risk-taking and failure are permissible.

Auvinen explains, ‘People don’t dare to take risks unless experimentation with even crazy ideas is supported by a safe environment and a sufficient amount of time. Researchers should have a button for stopping their everyday work for a period of, for example, two months to explore the functionality of a new idea’. If the idea does not fly, it can be openly stated that (at least) the topic was investigated, and rightly so.

Radical creativity also needs new kinds of facilities. ‘It’s important to have home bases – common spaces where people feel comfortable – and where they can familiarise with each other and each other’s work. The campus facilities are developed to facilitate natural cooperation between disciplines’, Auvinen says.

In the future, new ideas may also collide with the help of an “Aalto Idea Tinder” which could be a meeting place for ideas, where people could browse or offer new research openings or just find other likeminded people. Optimally speaking, a match would lead to joint action and a radically creative idea is born.

Text: Marjukka Puolakka

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