Designs for a Cooler Planet: ‘The Race’ theme calls for action

Aalto University’s large event shows in practice how collaboration between designers, researchers and stakeholders can lead to better solutions for society and the environment.
Väreen aulaan on pystytetty näyttely, jonka rakenteiden alla voi kulkea: kattorakenteesta roikkuu kasveja ja julisteita
Designs for a Cooler Planet, Väre 2020, photo: Tiina Toivola

On 2 September Aalto University celebrated the opening of Designs For a Cooler Planet exhibitions and events. It is part of Helsinki Design Week (HDW) program, including several exhibitions and events taking place in Otaniemi through 25 September. With this event Aalto is one of the main content partners for the HDW.

‘With the event we want to showcase our thinking, across fields, and what design and creativity can do to save the planet’, says Enni Äijälä, Designer in Residence at Aalto University, who is leading the content collaboration between Aalto and HDW.

In his opening speech, the president of Aalto University, Ilkka Niemelä emphasized that Aalto was the first Finnish university to endorse the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Accord in February 2018.

‘We promised to commit to the UN goals in teaching, research, innovation and campus development’, says Niemelä. ‘Our projects are examples that help us to imagine alternative futures, unlearn our assumptions of what is standard practice, and start a debate that can result in radical changes.’

This year the event’s visual identity is a sports theme, highlighting the spirit of a battle against time. The researchers and students are encouraged to actively find solutions to pressing societal challenges. ‘The Race’ theme emphasizes that action is needed in all fields, not only talk.

‘Especially in these days it is important to find ways to share and showcase with real samples of what type of research is done in the university’, emphasizes Enni Äijälä.

A hybrid event

Helsinki Design Week’s theme for this year is Commitment matters.

‘At Aalto we want to show our commitment to sustainable development and what we can do with our creative skills and with the mindset of experimenting new. HDW offers us a possibility to share our insights for a wider and different audience than normally’, explains Enni Äijälä.

The exhibition’s topical main themes, which all require major changes in the coming ten years, are:

  • Farewell to fossil fuels
  • Close the loops
  • Hack our habitat
  • Consume consciously.

Due to restrictions related to the covid19 pandemic, the event had to be transferred to a hybrid mode: it is partly physical, partly virtual. Some public visits to the exhibition will be organized.

For those who cannot see the physical exhibitions can get to know the exhibitions online. Furthermore, exhibitors organize a lot of different panels, workshops that can be joined virtually.

For HDW visitors and people outside Aalto community tours will be organized for small groups at Väre and Vuorimiehentie 2A. Visits must be booked in advance.

Registration to the Väre tours

Registration to Vuorimiehentie 2A

Did you know:

  • Designs for a Cooler Planet is an umbrella event, gathering over 30 projects all around Aalto University, inspired by the United Nations’s sustainable development goals.
  • Cooler Planet is three times bigger than last year when it was organized for the first time.
  • There are 25 exhibitions at the campus, 3 satellite exhibitions and 16 virtual events open for everyone
  • Unfolded magazine on radical creativity is published and available around campus.
  • More than 70 people from 5 Aalto schools have been creating exhibitions and happenings to the event.
  • The visual look is by Visual communication students Olga Elliot, Milja Komulainen and exhibition design is by Interior architecture student Markus Koistinen.
  • Aalto’s Experience Platform, Energy Platform, Materials Platform and Sustainability Hub have offered irreplacable support and insight regarding the projects and exhibitions.


See the video: The Race

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